Cannonball Read IV

A bunch of Pajibans reading and reviewing and honoring AlabamaPink.

Archive for the tag “Ransom Riggs”

Idgiepug’s CBR#4 Review #27: Miss Peregrine’s Home for Peculiar Children by Ransom Riggs

I loved everything about Ransom Riggs’ Miss Peregrine’s Home for Peculiar Children except the ending.  The novel skillfully incorporates a selection of unusual old photographs into the story of a teenaged boy coming to terms with his grandfather’s life and his own troubled past.  It’s a unique and interesting story.

The novel opens with Jacob Portman, a privileged kid who will inherit his share of a drugstore chain when he comes of age, discussing the stories his grandfather told him when he was younger.  Abe Portman told his grandson that he was pursued by monsters until he found safety in a children’s home in Wales where every child had an unusual gift or trait.  As he grows older, Jacob realizes the stories can’t possibly be true, but after his grandfather’s mysterious death, Jacob finds pictures that may support at least some of his grandfather’s claims.  After a very difficult time at home and with his psychiatrist’s blessings, Jacob goes to Wales to find the truth.

The story is suspenseful and creative, but the ending bothered me a bit.  It seems more like a set-up for a sequel than a good, solid ending to this story.  That said, I will likely seek out and read the sequel when and if it’s published.

Quorren’s #CBRS Review #31 Miss Peregrine’s Home for Peculiar Children by Ransom Riggs

There’s nothing I can really say that hasn’t already been covered in any other review of this book.  In theory, the books sounds great.  In practice, it fails.  Sometimes that happens when you try something innovative.

The books follows Jacob, who has a Big Fish kind of grandfather.  Grandpa tells a lot of tall tales, which as Jacob ages, he starts to disbelieve.  After his grandfather’s death, Jacob begins having nightmares and general anxiety issues.  He decides to visit the house his grand father stayed in during WWII in Wales, which turns out to be an olde time Xavier Academy for Mutants.

The books is interspersed with slightly creepy old fashioned photos, several of which use trick photography, like the Cottingley fairies.  It is kind of a novel idea to take a bunch of old photos and construct a story around them.  However, like I said, it doesn’t work so well in practice.  Several photos were a stretch for the author to include them in the story.  Some of the photos we’re lead to believe are of Miss Peregrine’s students.  However, when Jacob locates the mutant school, those particular students are never introduced.  I REALLY wanted to know what the deal was with those two creepy twins in the weird masks and I was left disappointed.

The story really does suffer from many plot holes and unresolved mysteries.  It had a lot of potential.  The author would’ve been well-advised to let this story ferment a bit.  Maybe set it on a shelf for a few months and read it with a more critical eye.  As the book ends on a cliffhanger, I can only hope the next one has better writing.


CommanderStrikeher’s #CBR 4 Review #13: Miss Peregrine’s Home for Peculiar Children by Ransom Riggs

Argh. This book. I wanted to like it. It had an interesting premise. Lots of creepy pictures and a story tying them all together. About halfway through the book I wanted to throw my Kindle across the room if I saw one more damn stupid picture.

Basically, the author found a bunch of weird pictures and wrote a story about the pictures.  Frequently he had to stretch to make the story fit the pictures.  It was just bad storytelling.  Basically, there is a kid named Jacob.  Growing up, his grandfather told him tall tales about the kids he went to school with.  He talked about kids that could fly and ones that had bees inside of them.  Then he dies, and Jacob finds out that Grandpa was not completely full of shit.  He travels to a remote Welsh island and finds Miss Peregrine’s Home for Peculiar Children (Hey, that’s the name of the book!).  As many other reviewers have pointed out, it is basically Charles Xavier’s school from X-Men, except these kids are annoying pussies instead of well-characterized badasses.  They are stuck in a time loop in the middle of WWII so they can hide from some kind of monsters that want to…eat them?…I think.  Honestly, I read this over a month ago, and I am a little fuzzy on some of the details.  I just remember that Jacob falls in love with a girl that used to be his grandfather’s girlfriend.  Ick.  Also, frustratingly stupid pictures.

Of course this book ends on a cliffhanger, because every damn book has to be a series.  Did I mention how grating the pictures became?  Yeah, I won’t be reading anymore of these.  I’m not sure if anyone over the age of 13 would appreciate this one.

1/5 Stars

genericwhitegirl’s #CBR4 Review #6: Miss Peregrine’s Home for Peculiar Children by Ransom Riggs

I’ve said it before and I’ll say it again, kids are creepy. What can take a horror movie to the next level? A creepy kid. Remember the kids in The Shining? That boy who would make his finger talk and say “redrum” over and over? Or those twin girls? What about The Others? Or The Sixth Sense? Or all those other movies I haven’t seen because they have creepy kids in them and I’m too scared to watch them? Who doesn’t agree that dolls are creepy? And why were garbage pail kids so popular back in the day? Creepy kids. Has anyone seen the teletubbies? Weirdest shit I’d ever seen.

Having said all that, what drew me to this book was the eerie picture of a girl floating on the cover. The picture looks real, and it looks old. Which brings me to another creepy device…old stuff. And this is a black and white photo, so it’s old. At least, it looks old. After I did some asking around, I realized the book’s premise is based on several photos that the author obtained. They are an eclectic bunch of pictures, many of which involve amateur photo tricks like the picture of the girl floating on the cover. Some of the photos don’t involve any kind of trick, per se, but they’re just strange, out of context images. And a lot of them involve kids. Creepy kids. Riggs uses these photos as inspiration for his story, and every now and then, he’ll describe a character or a scene, and voila! On the next page is a picture of just what he is describing.

So what’s the deal? The story is about Jacob, a teenager who has grown up hearing strange stories from his grandfather, who fled to Wales during WWII. His grandfather grows up in a home with other children, who are all special in some way. Set in modern times, Jacob finds himself delving into his grandfather’s past and visiting the orphanage to better understand the strange tales he heard growing up. Although the orphanage and its inhabitants are from the 1940’s, Jacob finds a way to connect with his grandfather’s past.

It’s difficult to get more detailed without giving anything away. But the book is basically a mix of X-Men/sci-fi/fantasy all in one. My reaction to the book was a little mixed…as it is with creepy kids in general. I’m a bit put off, but intrigued at the same time. Although I was more intrigued than put off in this case. I felt the incorporation of the photos was creative, but contrived at times. I could see the author thinking, “How do I get this photo into my narrative?” and then making up a random scene just to make it work. That took me out of the story a couple of times, but I was still excited to see what photo would be next and it definitely made the tale more visual for me. The story definitely fits a young adult genre though, which I find (except in a few cases) can dilute the potential of a story (if that makes any sense to anyone other than myself).

I agree with many others who have reviewed this book – the pictures are creepier than the story itself; and the tale is somewhat immature and underdeveloped.  But despite the mixed feelings, if you like fantasy stories or are a YA fan, you may get a kick out of this one.

Read The Blist for more reviews by genericwhitegirl.

Rahael’s #CBR4 Review #11: Miss Peregrine’s Home for Peculiar Children by Ransom Riggs

Miss Peregrine’s Home for Peculiar Children has shown up on a bunch of Best of 2011 lists and is currently still so popular that I had to wait a few months to receive my hold copy from the library.  It was reviewed six times for CBR3 and twice already so far for CBR4.  The main character, Jacob, is a teenager who grew up listening to his grandfather’s fantastic tales of fleeing from monsters to an island filled with children with special powers.  Although he believed the stories when he was younger, as he ages Jacob begins to believe that the monsters were in reality Nazis and the island was a home established for refugee children.  When Jacob discovers his grandfather’s dying body, he starts to believe that there might be some truth to the tales and decides to try to find the island and home.  To supplement the novel, Riggs uses creepy found photos which is an intriguing idea but actually bogs the book down as the characters and plot are forced to fit his favorite photos instead of being allowed to progress organically.

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Carolyn’s CBR Review #7: Miss Peregrine’s Home for Peculiar Children

Growing up, Jacob formed a strong bond with his grandfather over his bizarre tales of invisible boys and levitating girls. As he grew up, Jacob realized that his grandfather was telling tales, masking his experiences as a Jewish World War II refugee in the guise of fairy tales. The monsters the peculiar children feared were in reality Nazis; the children themselves were only different due to religion. Or so Jacob believed, until his grandfather is killed under mysterious circumstances and Jacob swears he saw a tentacle-mouthed creature lurking in the nearby woods. Soon after, Jacob receives a mysterious letter that propels him on a journey to the remote Welsh island where his grandfather grew up. When he gets there, he discovers Miss Peregrine and her Peculiar Children who are the same age as they were in his grandfather’s stories. That’s because they are in a time loop, living the same day over and over in order to protect themselves from creatures like the one that killed Jacob’s grandfather. Basically, Miss Peregrine’s orphanage is:

although far less compelling. The book little more than a regurgitated version of XMen. Clearly the author found the awesome, uber-creepy photos first and then devised a story around them, but the narrative never reaches the level of creepy that the pictures have. All the characters are flat and provide little reason to care for him. Jacob doesn’t have any friends, probably because of his immature abrasive personality, and he spends a fair amount of time complaining of how rich his family is (must be nice). Even the mutants (sorry, peculiar children) aren’t interesting. Each has only one note to play and has no background, nothing to make them remarkable beyond the one ability that Riggs has given them that may or may not have anything to do with the picture. And thinking about these “children”: isn’t it odd that they look and act like children? Shouldn’t we see something more along the lines of Kirsten Dunst’s character in the movie, “Interview with a Vampire”–an adult stuck in a child’s body? And what is it with all these guys being attracted to ice cold women pointing knives into their bellies? Do I need to read more Freud or something? The only “child” who is even remotely fleshed out is Emma aka: The Obligatory Romantic Interest (and no one finds it odd that they’re hooking up considering she was canoodling with Jacob’s grandfather 70 years ago. Thanks Twilight).  Also the book just…ends. So stay tuned for the sequel.

I had more fun writing this review than I did reading the book. Just Google Image search the cool photos.

Alexis’s #CBR4 Review #7: Miss Peregrine’s Home for Peculiar Children, Ransom Riggs

by Ransom RiggsStep #1: Find a huge collection of authentic and uber-creepy antique photos.
Step #2: Write book based on creepy photos and incorporate said photos in book for full creepy effect.
Step #3: Give your book one of the coolest titles ever, using creepy photo for cover art.

Ah…such a great concept. Such a great cover. Such a disappointment.

girls by lakeJacob is your average high-school slob whose life is upended when he stumbles upon his dying grandfather who seems to have been killed by a horrible creature (that Jacob’s friend can’t see). After a bout of severe depression, PTSD, and a few months of intensive therapy, Jacob and his dad head off to the island where his Grandfather was raised by “the bird.” Jacob’s therapist believes that connecting with his grandfathers past may help him heal from the trauma. Also Jacob’s grandfather had all these weird photos & stories from his childhood (which have to be fake right?) and Jacob wants to put to rest all the fantastical tales he’s been told.

Once on the island he finds Miss Peregrine and her Peculiar Children caught in a time loop – living the same day over and over, to keep them safe from horrors like the one that ate Jacob’s grandfather. And despite the excitement of finally (literally you’re almost halfway through the book by now) meeting the peculiar children, things start to unravel from here.

The pictures and premise here are so strong. But the author lacks the imagination to create a truly compelling mythology to explain the peculiar children, the time loop, and why they need to stay hidden. Having grown up on books from Stephen King and Neil Gaiman, authors who are master craftsmen in creepy world building, I couldn’t swallow the thinly conceived premise of the story. Jacob, the main character, is fairly generic. The peculiar children all have their own peculiar talent but have no character traits beyond that. I couldn’t get beyond the feeling that the whole story was shoehorned together to make the “cool photos” fit.

This book got a B+ from EW and was listed as one of the best books of 2011 by Amazon. So perhaps I am alone in my disappointment. However just in case, you may want to hold off unless you can pick this up at the library. Disappointment stings a little less when it didn’t just cost you. $7.95.

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