Tuesday, May 8, 2012

Book Lust: Miss Peregrine's Home For Peculiar Children

Since I finished this book a few weeks ago, I've been toying with the idea of how to write about it. Which is unusual for me.  I tend to fall in love with a book and have oodles to say about it.  Even the really bad ones have always been an excellent source of conversational fodder.  But somehow, Miss Peregrine's Home For Peculiar Children has cuddled up between the rock and hard place of my brain.  

"I used to dream about escaping my ordinary life, but my life was never ordinary.  I had simply failed to notice how extraordinary it was."  

Using an impressive vocabulary in the guise of a young adult book, the premise of Ransom Riggs' novel is an impressive undertaking.  A house of 'peculiar' children - children with special gifts: levitation, fire starters, invisibility, etc. - locked in a loop of a single day more than 50 years ago.  Riddled with the unusual, the supernatural, a pseudo-complicated love story, time travel and inexplicable monsters who only hunt 'peculiars' - Miss Peregrine's Home for Peculiar Children is rife with potential magic.  However...  However. 

When I was in high school I had to read Mark Twain's Huckleberry Finn.  I was not a fan.  It's a classic. It's adored by millions.  But I just didn't see it.   Maybe I'd love it if I read it again.  It's been known to happen.  And yet, it's so difficult for me to forget.  
After reading and discussing Huck Finn in class, my teacher told us a little backstory.  Rumor has it Mark Twain wasn't happy with his progress and after toiling away, despite the progress of the plot, he decided to just up and end it.  The book takes a dramatic plot turn and ends abruptly, leaving much of the previous plot unresolved and unsubstantiated by the ending.  The details of Huck Finn itself have faded with time, but that conversation stayed with me.  Regardless of the validity of that story, the effect remains the same.  

I can't help feeling like the frustration I had for the ending of Huck Finn is the same that I feel for Miss Peregrine's.  It's not that it's a bad book.  It's not.  But when something claims to be 'extraordinary'... well... nothing less will do.  And frankly, after spending time with Miss Peregrine and her flock, well... extraordinary isn't exactly the word I'd use.  

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