You may or may not notice this about me, but I like to read. Back in the day (when I was ~10 years old) I would read several hours each day, dreading the time when I was forced to put whatever novel I was reading down. Then high school happened, and mandatory reading happened, and I no longer loved reading. Instead, I was forced to read books I didn’t love and find metaphors that the author never intended. I stopped reading. That is, until just two years ago, when I expressed interest in reading The Hunger Games, and Tim lent me his dusty Kindle (which he never saw again). And so, when Kelly announced that she was starting a blogger book club, I got really excited. After all, we’re combining two of my favorite things to do.
Up first, July’s book:
Miss Peregrine’s Home for Peculiar Children
by Ransom Riggs
Jacob, a young teenage boy, undergoes therapy in attempt to rid his mind of the monsters he swears he saw while witnessing his grandfather’s traumatic death. Instead, he decides to dig deep into the depths of his grandfather’s past, visiting the small island where his grandfather spent his youth at a strange orphanage. As Jacob investigates the old home, he uncovers old photographs, some matching those his grandfather own, that prove the children of this orphanage were anything but ordinary, and may even still be alive.
I gave this book 3 out of 5 stars (keep in mind I’m stingy with my stars) because while I enjoyed it toward the middle, the beginning and end were slow-going. Honestly, it’s kind of a weird story. I’m not sure how this story could continue on to a second book, and I may or may not attempt to read that one. The strange photographs (which apparently are real vintage photographs found in flea markets and estate sales) made the book better than it would have been.
Book Club Questions:
1. What effect did the photographs have on how you experienced this novel? In fact, what was your reading experience of Miss Peregrine’s Home for Peculiar Children? How did it make you feel? Were you disturbed…or fascinated…or something else? Did the book hold your interest?
The photographs definitely made this novel more eerie. I was initially disturbed, and expected the children to be more haunting (which I probably would have enjoyed more), but later on the children seemed normal and boring.
2. What’s wrong with Jacob Portman? What’s his problem?
Jacob has a weird genetic thing going on. He’s also really unhappy with his life, which is made clear by his choice at the end of the novel.
3. What about Abe Portman, what kind of character is he? What kind of a world does he create in his stories for young Jacob? Why do the stories intrigue Jacob so much?
I feel like we didn’t learn a lot about Abe, but the description of him once we learned the truth about his hunting trips reminded me of Sam & Dean from Supernatural. I’m unsure as to why he told Jacob (or even Jacob’s dad) these stories. Did he know that his children might share his gift?
4. As he moves into adolescence, why does Jacob begin to doubt the veracity of his grandfather’s stories? In what way does he think they may be connected to Abe’s struggle under the Nazis?
Jacob assumes that Abe’s stories are materialized from his struggles during WWII, and a coping mechanism to deal with all the horrors he faced.
5. Are you able to make sense of the “after,” the time loop? Can you explain it? Do you enjoy the way Riggs plays with time in his novel?
The time loop, and the time after the time loop “slipped” made sense to me. But maybe that’s because I’ve watched and read too much sci-fi. The day that they were living over and over again did not reset, and instead they went on to live the time that they had not lived. Kind of like the end of Groundhog Day. I actually wished Riggs had described this time loop a little more, not just explaining it, but encountering the problems it might cause. The withering apple was a good example, but I would have liked to have seen more issues arise.
Would I recommend to a friend? Yes, just be prepared for some weirdness. :)