Perhaps this will explain to you how big of a cheapskate I really am.
In between two Fort assignments yesterday, I found myself lounging in my favorite Fully Booked engrossed in a copy of Miss Peregrine’s Home For Peculiar Children. Feet propped up on the club chair, bag (and contents) on the floor, finger on mouth nail biting (so sorry but my DNA may be slathered all over one of the copies, at least from Chapters 1 to 8)–that kind of engrossed. The kind of absorption I reserve at home and not in a public space where across from me is a man equally pored over a book with a grinning blonde face on the cover.
I didn’t have much time. Roughly two hours before I had to leave for my event. But there I was, taking Mr. Ransom Riggs (I do hope this is a pseudonym) in word for word, page by page. Miss Peregrine’s Home For Peculiar Children is about 16-year-old Jacob Portman. A loner of some kind, he grew up listening to his grandfather’s tales of monsters and children with two mouths, with bees living inside their tummies, and with powers to fly. As Jacob grew up, he found himself becoming more disbelieving, thinking the stories were hyperbolic accounts of his grandfather’s experience in the war.
But when he witnesses Grandfather’s Abe’s strange death and tries to decode his vague final instructions, Jacob discovers a new world–where women could turn to birds and manipulate time, where girls could produce fire without so much as a match, where people can be invisible, where one could live and relive the third of September, 1940 for 80 years. He soon learns he inherited his grandfather’s talent of seeing “monsters,” and only he can lead Miss Peregrine’s peculiar wards to safety.
Jacob as a narrator was the perfect touch. He had just enough angst to be believable, and he suffered from usual adolescent issues like a crummy job, having no friends, overbearing parents. The issue with writing in the first person is that, sometimes, the narrator tends to drone on and on–telling the reader what’s happening without showing it. But not Jacob. He lets you in, and being inside allows the reader to relate with him and take part in his adventure. How it was told in the eyes and mind of a 16-year-old barely cramped Riggs style, too. Full and complex sentences, a sprinkle of an unfamiliar word every now and then–of course, Jacob was in all honors classes.
On a minor note, I like that his dad accompanied him on his trip to an off-the-map island somewhere in Wales. Realism, check!
There are so few novels in this world that make me want to burn through the pages to find out what’s really going on. Miss Peregrine’s Home For Peculiar Children is a reasonably paced adventure with an extra-special spooky twist–and a hero that’s eccentric enough to be interesting yet grounded enough to be relatable. Really, in a young adult fiction section littered with inter-species paranormal Romeos and Juliets, warring dystopian societies, about a hundred “chosen ones,” a simple well-told story with a solid original plot can still take its rightful place on the bestseller list. It’s supernatural, yes, but in a refreshingly eerie, almost unglamorous manner.
The story itself is a haunting page turner, but the inclusion of several old photographs puts intrigue and adds a thrilling, more visual account. Ransom Riggs originally intended to make a photobook of his collection of old “weird” photos, but decided to use them as basis for a novel instead. By today’s standards, the, er, “vintage” photoshop of a girl inside a bottle, a dog with a human baby’s face, and double reflection on a lake is crude at best, but they have that spine-tingling quality of old photographs.
By Chapter 9 I had to go. Begrudgingly, I replaced the book beside a pile of Hunger Games box sets and a series called The Power. I wanted to buy it, seriously. It cost of P565. Not bad, but I still haven’t been able to withdraw (Damn you, BPI) anything from my bank account. I’m not sure if I was just being unreasonably stingy or it wasn’t enough to make me want to buy it. But here I am, typing up unfinished sentiments. The last part of the adventure left hanging until my next Fully Booked trip.
I heard Tim Burton’s directing the film version to be released in 2013. EXCITED. It had to be him, really. Dark, depressing, and with monsters? That’s Tim Burton right there. I’m guessing Helena Bonham Carter as Miss Peregrine and Freddie Highmore as Jacob. I’m thinking Big Fish and Alice in Wonderland.
If you have a digital or hard copy, please lend. I’m salivating in anticipation.
I bought a copy. Paperback P399. I figured that was the compromise. But I read the last 100 pages in under three hours. Ngek.