Getting sick is the pits. Your nose runs, you cough a bunch, and all the Samoas Girl Scout cookies you stuff in your mouth taste like coconut flecked plywood. Okay, maybe that last part is just me, but you get what I mean. There’s a solid upside to contracting acute coryza though: you have an excuse to put off all your “responsibilities” and just read a bunch of books.
My latest bout with the common cold afforded me the chance to get down with two books I’d been meaning to read for a more than a minute. The first, A Million Suns, was my topic of the night a couple days ago. The other was Miss Peregrine’s Home for Peculiar Children, the first novel by a fella named Mr. Ransom Riggs.
Riggs did a solid job of catching my attention from the get-go. He lays out the wicked boring life of Jacob Portman, a Floridian rich kid who is destined to inherit a drug store empire. This kid Jacob, he kind of bugged me when I first met him. He reminded me of one of these bourgeois trust-fund brats who somehow end up with a bunch of emotional troubles despite never having anything to be upset about. His parents were more of the same–a dad who at middle-age is still trying to find himself, and a mom that divides her time between downing wine and complaining about “the help.” Not the sort of folks I’d take pleasure in knowing.
Jacob’s life gets screwed all the way to H-E double hockey sticks when he stumbles upon the body of his dead grandpa, a WWII veteran with a bit of a mysterious past. What’s more, his grandpa’s last words–a cryptic message that make sense as the story unfolds–lob Jacob into the shallow end of the depression pool. Poor Jacob ends up in therapy, trying in vain to sort out the craziness that his grandpa’s message stirred around his brain while his parents try and coddle him back to his old self. The story eventually moves on–a little too slowly, in my opinion–to a handful of discoveries that lead Jacob across the Atlantic so that he can find his true calling as a peculiar child.
Taken as a whole, the book was pretty darn good. The idea was super original and didn’t rely at all on the sort of gimmicky twists that plague a lot of YA mysteries. I think it’s worth mentioning too that I got sort of a Chronicles of Narnia meets X-Men vibe from it. I think this came from Jacob having a whole world that he can see juxtaposed with all the amazing powers of the kids who live there (I’m thinking mostly of Emma here and her ability to throw fire like a pro). Also, I felt like the role he had to play in this new world was similar to the role the Pevensie children had to play when taking on that cantankerous old White Witch.
The only gripe I had–and this is a pretty small one, believe me–was the part of the book between the discovery of his grandpa’s body and his trip across the Pond. Jacob complains so much about the people in his life that I half-expected him to get all Holden Caulfield on me and start calling everybody phonies. I would have appreciated if Riggs had sped this part of the book up, moving us onto the action that made this book so fun to read.
That’s about it on the review side of things. I’ve got to work on my own book now–you know, the one I’ve neglected for two fricken days. But I definitely want to know what you thought of this book. So lay it on me–good or bad, I want to know.