I have been wanting to read this book for quite a while, but never really got around to it due to a very busy schedule. However, the news and trailer for the movie adaptation of the novel spurred me on to finally get around to reading it. When it also appeared on Storytel as an audiobook, I knew I could spend my commute every day doing something productive.
Now, I watched the trailer for the movie before I started reading this. It doesn’t really spoil that much. but I can see that they have made some pretty drastic changes to the characters’ importance in the movie, as compared with the book. The entrance to the loop, for example, seems to be positioned underwater rather than through the cairn, and Emma seems to have been replaced with Olive, the levitating girl. Now, I haven’t seen the movie so I don’t know how well these changes work, but I’m still slightly sceptical. Personally, I loved Emma and since Olive didn’t have that big of a role in the books, I kind of struggle to see her as a romantic interest for Jacob when Emma was a more likely candidate.
But I won’t lose myself in guesses and predictions. Let’s focus on the book, shall we?
This was exactly the kind of fantasy book I like. Rooted in the real world, it brings in fantastical elements hidden in plain sight. Based on the ‘wandering circuses’ and ‘freakshows’ of the past, ‘Miss Peregrine’s Home for Peculiar Children’ explains ‘peculiars’ as simply a different type of human, a human with special abilities. There are as many abilities as there are varying facial features among ‘common’ people, as Miss Peregrine explains to Jacob. There is also the time travel/time loop element of the story, but this, I think, will be more important in the sequel to this book, as they only touch on the possibility of time travel by using the time loops, pockets of frozen time, to travel through the past. Now, I’m not a specialist on time travel rules, but I was left slightly confused as to the laws of this kind of time travel. I’ll wait for the sequel to see if it sounds plausible or not, I guess.
Now, it was the characters themselves that drew me in. I loved hearing about the different abilities, like superhuman strength, levitation, fire, having living bees inside you (eeeewwww), or a second mouth at the back of your head. Some of the abilities sound rather nice, like the ability to grow and shape plants, while others were terrifying, like necromancy. The children themselves were also given distinct personalities and stories, some of which were delved deeper into while others were left untouched. You get small hints as to what happened to them, but nothing in detail, not even with Emma, who is arguably the most important peculiar in the story.
However, for as much as I liked the book, I found it very predictable. From the nature of Jacob’s peculiarity to who the White was, I kind of guessed it long before it was revealed. This did dampen the excitement and suspense a little, but not to the extent that I lost interest in the story. The description of the Hollows was so detailed that I could almost see them in front of me and I made the mistake of listening to the audiobook right before bed, giving me bad dreams of shadowy monsters with snake-like tongues chasing me. Not fun. As far as a rating, I’d give this book a 3.5 out of 5. I really liked the characters and the descriptions, but the predictability of the story let me down, as well as me not really buying the time travel element as of yet. Once I read the sequel, I might change my mind. As of now, it stands as a pretty good and entertaining fantasy book, but nothing more.