It’s that time again – Book Club. This month Wendy challenged me. A lot! She asked if we could read Miss Peregrine’s Home for Peculiar Children. I admit that I almost told her no, even after knowing that her son had read it. You see, I had picked the book up before and thought it sounded really interesting. Then, I opened it. I was really creeped out by the photos. So badly that I put the book back on the shelf and resolved not to pick it up again. Visual things stick in my mind for a long time, even well written descriptions, so I avoid things like this for my peace of mind. I figured if the photos creeped me out so badly what would the book and all its detailed descriptions do? Then, Wendy brought the request to read it for this month. I decided that part of the challenge of the book club was to read and experience genres and books that I wouldn’t necessarily choose to read of my own accord. This one certainly fell in this category. So, I decided to be brave, said yes and here we are, pleasantly surprised.
Jacob Portman has been told stories all his life. As he grew, he quit believing they were real. But what if they were? What if his grandfather’s stories were not fairy tales about peculiar children that could levitate? Or were invisible? Or could create fire? Or all those other strange abilities? When Jacob grandfather is killed, Jacob struggles with what to believe, with who to believe. Perhaps a trip to the island his grandfather always talked about would help remove the mist from the stories, to put these peculiar children and their pictures behind him and allow Jacob to get on with his life. Or perhaps the trip will turn into something much, much more.
As always, a spoiler warning is in effect. The questions come from LitLovers.
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?
As I mentioned above, I was NOT going to read this book simply because of the pictures. But, I was able to get around that when I checked the ebook out from the library and read it using the OneClick app on my Kindle. I was able to skim past the photos without looking at them. There was enough description in the book that there was no need for me to spend any time on the pictures. The book was fascinating and the story propelled me along without the photos and I am thankful that I didn’t need them to get through the story.
2. What’s wrong with Jacob Portman? What’s his problem?
I don’t think anything is wrong with Jacob Portman. I think he is just a kid trying to figure life out.
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?
Abe Portman was a grandpa who loved his grandchild. He wove stories for him, teaching him things he needed to know in a way that wasn’t scary. His stories brought to life much of what he went through and wanted to prepare Jacob for. It was a fun, fascinating, wonderful world that he taught Jacob about. He did such a good job telling his stories that it was hard to differentiate between the real and the unreal.
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?
He begins to doubt the stories because he is trying to connect them with things that he is being taught as fact, as truth, as real and possible. Yet much of the stories cannot be connected with fact and truth, real and tangible, because too many people don’t know it. It is difficult to continue believing something when the majority of people tell you it is made up.
5. What makes Jacob think his grandfather’s death is more sinister than what the official version claims?
He saw the scene and the creature. He talked to his grandfather during those last moment of his life, when his grandfather was going through trauma and extreme fear.
6. Talk about the house in Wales. When Jacob first lays eyes on it, he observes that it “was no refuge from monsters, but a monster itself.” Would you say the house serves as a setting to the story…or is its role something else—a character, perhaps?
I did not see the house as something bigger than a setting. It was a foundation for the story, anchoring what Jacob knew to what he was seeing and experiencing throughout the story.
7. 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 was hard for me to understand the first time it was experienced in the story but after that, it made sense and was interesting. It played a pivotal role in how the story works and to have come up with that idea, to employ it in this way was interesting. The ability to pass through or manipulate time has long been fascinating to mankind and I think Riggs does a wonderful job of using the ideas of time travel and what can be done through it in his story.
8. Were you surprised by the direction that the story took? Were you expecting it to go elsewhere? Were you able to suspend disbelief enough to enjoy the story’s turn of events?
I can’t say that I was surprised, except by the lack of ending. It just stopped. But as for expectations with the twists and turns of the story, I didn’t really feel like I was expecting something but rather just enjoying the ways the paths ran through the story.
9. Talk, of course, about the peculiar children. Which of their oddities and personalities do you find most intriguing?
I don’t know that I liked one more than another. Each was unique and added a lot to the story. I will say I found it rather disturbing that the author spent such time thinking up strange and creepy ways for these children to be “peculiar.” It did make the story interesting in a way it could not have been with normal, ordinary children.
10. Some readers have complained about the inconsistency of the narrative voice, that it was perhaps too sophisticated for a young boy, even an adolescent? Do you agree, or disagree? Does the narrative voice change during the course of the novel?
I kind of liked the way the narrative grew and changed as the story unfolded and Jacob experienced more and more, realizing where reality lay. As he matured in his knowledge of the stories of his grandfather, I think is right that his narrative voice would mature as well.
11. Does the end satisfy? Are loose ends tied up….or left hanging? This is the first book of a planned series. Will you read future installments? Where do you think Riggs will take his readers next?
Leaving the story unfinished was pretty lousy, in my opinion. I like to have reason to continue reading the next book but I don’t like it when the story is left completely unresolved, with more questions than it even began with. I don’t know if I will read the next ones or not. It was a fun and pleasant read but I don’t have a burning desire to follow the story, even with everything left in a shambles.
Visit Ladybug Daydreams to read Wendy’s thoughts on Miss Peregrine’s Home for Peculiar Children.
Did you read along with us this month? If so, we would love to hear what you thought. You can connect with us by writing a comment or if you wrote a blog post about it, link it up in the linky. Then go visit others to read what they thought about the book.
Thank you for joining Wendy of Ladybug Daydreams and myself on this journey through literature we might not dare on our own.
Next month, we will be reading the GA Henty novel titled Beric the Briton. I have read three other Henty novels and loved them. This one ought to be fun as well. Hope you will join us for that discussion, posting on Feb. 2, 2017.
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