Saturday, February 4, 2012

Miss Peregrine's Home for Peculiar Children

     Miss Peregrine's Home for Peculiar Children may not have been the best book to choose while I was sick, but it seemed like a good one to distract me from my fever and coughing attacks.  It has been sitting in my pile for a couple of weeks, bought on the spur of the moment because the pictures and back of the book reminded me of Stephen King.  
     After witnessing the horrible murder of his beloved grandfather, Jacob sets out to understand his grandfather's dying words.  He discovers his grandfather Abe's fairy tales are true.  As a young Jewish boy, Abe is sent to Miss Peregrine's Home for Peculiar Children to hide from the Nazis.  The orphanage is an ideal refuge until the Nazi bombing September 3, 1940.  The Nazis are soon overthrown, but new monsters take their place.  Abe is the only one who can see the new monsters, and he risks everything he loves to keep the monsters at bay.  Jason has unknowingly inherited his grandfather's gift and must save the children his grandfather leaves behind.           
     It is definitely one of the weirdest books I have ever read.  It has a bit of everything thrown into the mix: romance, horror, mystery, action, time travel, children with "freak show" abilities and the Nazis.  Unfortunately, the book tries to go too many places and loses its focus.  There are so many characters to keep track of, it is hard to feel for any of them, which is too bad because I want to feel for the kids.  The romance between Jacob and the girl his grandfather also loved is too much of an "ick factor" for me to get past, and the random sexual comments are too much for a recommendation to my students.         
     The photographs in the book are supposed to be actual photographs that people donated of peculiar children, and they are fascinating.  
     The book could have made a very cool allegory about monsters and the underlying truth of his grandfather's experience with the Nazis.  It also could have been a cool horror story.  It's too bad it tries to be everything and fails at all of them.  
     Tim Burton has bought the rights for the movie, so it will be interesting to see how it translates to the big screen.       

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