I finished reading this novel a couple of weeks ago, but hadn’t come round to writing a review yet.
So, Miss Peregrine. Overall, I quite enjoyed the book. The author writes eloquently and uses a broad vocabulary. I appreciate this especially, since I generally see a tendency (especially in more commercial and YA novels) to write very mainstream. This means that the writing style is unobtrusive and does not draw attention to itself. This also means that these books have a limited vocabulary and never use words that are anything less than mainstream. Although this is perfectly fine, I do especially admire a more eloquent writing style. I like to ‘taste’ the words as well as enjoy the story. Miss Peregrine has a style like that, although mostly at the beginning. It becomes more mainstream as the story progresses.
And this is exactly what I feel about the book in general: the beginning is the best part. It is fresh and promising, but as the book progresses, it becomes more and more mainstream. The novel tells the story of Jacob, a troubled teenage boy whose grandfather, as a child, stayed on a small British island to survive WW2. From his time there, he has a number of strange photographs which he likes to show Jacob. They show children in old-fashioned clothing doing impossible things, like the floating girl on the cover. Before too long, Jacob and his father travel to this remote island to figure out the meaning of the photographs.
This first part of the story is quite intriguing. Things are unclear and mysterious and there is a sense of promise. However, when Jacob finally discovers the truth about these peculiar photos, about 1/3 into the novel, I felt a sense of disappointment. Up till that point in the story, the book had been more or less magical realism: realistic, but with ‘peculiar’ hints. After that point in the story, it becomes firmly fantasy and that disappointed me. I love the kind of magical realism that allows some magical or fantastical touches while remaining firmly rooted in reality. In general, I’m not a big fan of faeries, demons, angels, aliens, werewolves and other supernatural creatures. The kind of creatures that do not exist and which we just have to accept as magical. Of course there are always exceptions to this rule, but in general I prefer magical realism over fantasy, if such a comparison is at all legitimate.
So the great revelation was not quite as great as I’d hoped. It mostly leads to a lot of running towards things and away from things. The ending, too, is not all that great. It is so open that a sequel seems inevitable. Jacob makes his choice, but the emotional consequences of that choice are rather muted. It’s very quick and rational, whereas the choice is in fact life-changing. It seems written for a sequel, yet I cannot find any evidence that such a book is forthcoming.
All in all I found it an enjoyable book, but especially the first 1/3 of the book is really good. I’d give the first 1/3 of the book 4 stars while the other 2/3 deserve only 3 stars, in my opinion. The photos, however, are a great idea. They are intriguing and captivating!
Has anyone read this book? What did you think of it? I’d love to hear it!