Thanks to NoQStore Asia, I was able to get my hands on Miss Peregrine’s Home for Peculiar Children by Ransom Riggs (together with a few other books). And this Next-in-Reading post will be featuring Miss Peregrine and her peculiars.
Title: Miss Peregrine’s Home for Peculiar Children
Author: Ransom Riggs
Publisher: Quirk Books
“And then she met my eyes and said, “He could see the monsters.””
Raised by the countless stories told to him by his grandfather, Jacob Portman grew up in the middle ground of heroic fantasy and skeptical reality. Growing out of those stories, Jacob continues to care for his grandfather, until he stumbles upon his grandfather’s corpse while looking for him in the latter’s retirement home, resulting in the return of his grandfather’s stories and nightmares. Armed with an old collection of peculiar photographs and a letter from one Miss Peregrine, who his grandfather has mentioned, Jacob makes his way to an island off the United Kingdom, where his grandfather was raised, to find out about the mysteries of his past. Little does he know that those photographs carried more truth than he believed.
Jacob Portman, the Hidden Key
A teenager trying to find his identity, Jacob may actually feel inadequate or lost, possibly due to the many paths that have already been laid out in front of him. His part time job at his maternal family’s drug store conglomerate, his summer plans as somewhat dictated by his maternal uncle, his parents forcing him to go to psychiatrist after psychiatrist, him having to follow all his doctor’s orders etc…
Therefore, upon discovering the peculiars and how welcoming they turned out to be about him, he finds a new kind of freedom – a freedom from what we know as “first world problems” – where he is able to find himself, be himself, and live and develop to his full potential without the worry of ensuring that he is living up to someone else’s.
Finding out that he himself was a peculiar also freed him from his “sickness”, a kind of sickness of self, and what his surroundings said his self was meant to be.
Miss Alma Peregrine, in Flight through the Times
Stoic and disciplined, Alma Peregrine is probably everything you would expect a strict headmistress to be. Due to the nature of her job, however, it is expected that she keeps the peculiars on a tight leash, in order to protect them. This is indeed, similar to that of a mother bird taking her chicks under her wing.
As the story progresses, it does feel like Miss Peregrine has a kind of forlornness about staying in the same era for almost close to a century. And despite being able to catch a glimpse of the present day as we know it, Miss Peregrine has to do her best to keep all the advances of the world to herself in order to not excite her wards, protecting them from going out of the loop.
Peculiarity & Individualism
In the eyes of the world (both realistically and within this story), peculiarity is seen as weird, special, or living on the outcasts of society – the peak of individualism, with almost no sense of community.
However, the community of the peculiars is juxtaposed against communities we know, especially through their treatment of Jacob. While he was treated cordially and lovingly at first by the people he knew – family, friends, relatives – it came to a standstill and he was eventually ostracized when he was diagnosed with a psychological problem. Conversely, he was treated with suspicion and abuse at first glance with the peculiars. However, as time passed, he was accepted as who he was, with no pretense of kindness due to relations or ties.
It can also be said that the peculiars represented cliques in our society – groups of people who we think are just “too weird” or “too different” – and how society often paints a broad brush over subcultures without regard to their humanity.
Nature of the World
Though it was portrayed through a rather abstract and far-fetched way (via time travel or loops), the message behind it speaks clearly to us as well. A metaphor for the way nature works, the time loops are portrayed as something that has been fixed since time began (a.k.a. nature), and messing with it will come with major consequences.
As with nature, messing with the time loops results in a twisted product of greed (Hollows are always looking for souls to consume), and far reaching consequences affecting innocent parties (Ymbrynes all over the world keep peculiars under their wings for safety).
Style & Structure
This is one of the few books I’ve read that is able to blend photography and the story together almost seamlessly. Unlike books where photographs are either mere pullouts or accompaniments that only serve to enhance the setting of the story, what Ransom Riggs has done is a good balance of both the words and the images.
Giving stories to the photographs he has gathered, what Riggs has given us is a story where the photographs are the main character, the key to the rest of the novel, and not just an element of the plot.
The Miss Peregrine’s series is written by Ransom Riggs. To find out more about him and his work, click here.
In the meantime…
And I’ll see you next week!
Note: Many thanks to NoQStore Asia for their generous sponsorship! Stay tuned to this blog to find out about my shopping experience with them. Readers to this blog also get a 15% discount when they type “JOELYN15” before checking out their items, so click here to start shopping! Terms and conditions apply.