In Barnes and Noble this summer, I picked up “Miss Peregrine’s Home for Peculiar Children” by Ransom Riggs. The outside cover intrigued me as it was a little girl with a strange crown on her head, and her feet were a few inches off of the ground.
The book itself had a slow start. In fact, the majority of the book is background information. The main character, Jacob, listens to his grandfather tell stories in the beginning. Jacob’s grandfather is an eccentric man who carried around strange photographs of children doing extraordinary things, such as levitating and lifting a boulder above their head. Along with these photographs, Abraham, Jacob’s grandfather, tells stories of the children in the photos from when he said he lived with them in a children’s home. Jacob believes intently in these stories until he is teased at school and becomes convinced his grandfather is crazy. Abraham continues to insist his stories are true. As Abraham becomes older, he becomes senile. He meets a nasty and suspicious death, leaving Jacob traumatized and confused about what he saw the night his grandfather died. Jacob, in an attempt to know more about his grandfather’s stories, ventures to the island where his grandfather said he knew the peculiar children.
On the island, Jacob learns that his grandfather’s stories and photographs were not just an elaborate imagination. This is where the plot picks up. Jacob finds the children, who are still mysteriously children, and Miss Peregrine, the woman his grandfather said would hold all the answers. Before Jacob can get used to this other world he has fallen into, the world is attacked by its own form of monsters. Jacob must decide to fight or go back to his boring, unfulfilling life.
This book is part of a trilogy and drops off rather abruptly. Having only bought the first book, I had to rush back to the bookstore to grab the second book to see what happened with the characters. The book itself was a fairly good read. It had a Harry Potter/X-Men vibe. Anyone who is a fan of fantasy will probably enjoy this novel.
It seems books are written just to be turned into movies these days, and “Miss Peregrine’s Home for Peculiar Children” is among those books. I decided to go see the film, and I had high hopes for the film since Tim Burton directed it.
As the movie began, I was struck by the fact that the actor who was playing Jacob, the main character of the book and movie, was absolutely awful at acting. I have no idea what he did in his audition to land the part, but he could not portray emotion effectively. Still, I could overlook a bad actor. The movie makers also made the decision to switch the roles of two major characters. Emma, in the book, is Jacob’s love interest. However, Emma is not in the movie. Instead, she is switched with Olive, who is the levitating little girl in the movie. Olive, in the movie, is much older and is Jacob’s love interest. Even though this was a pretty big discrepancy and did not seem to have a point, I still tried to enjoy the film.
Other than the major change in characters, the plot seemed to remain closely mirrored to that of the book – that is until the end of the movie. I sat in the movie theater anticipating the end of the movie because it was drawing near to where the book ended. However, the movie kept going and going. The end of the movie was unrecognizable compared to the book, and it was silly. The ending battle was shown more as a rave than a fight. The ending of the movie, and its complete fabrication and deviation from the book, ruined the movie for me. I do not understand why three books were condensed into one movie. This butchering of a book series reminded me of the movie that attempted to depict the “A Series of Unfortunate Events” series.
“Miss Peregrine’s Home for Peculiar Children” as a book is worth a read if you like fantasy novels. The movie’s downfall is the ending that deviates so far from the book that it was created from.