Hype or Like Friday is a meme that was created on Goodreads by Jill @Rant And Rave About Books, Larkin @Wonderfilled Reads, and Britt @Geronimo Reads. The focus of the group is to talk about hyped books and whether they deserve such high praise. Each month, there’s a Book of the Month that will be reviewed on the last Friday of said month. To join the group or find more information about it, please go to the Goodreads page HERE.
October’s Book of the Month is Miss Peregrine’s Home for Peculiar Children by Ransom Riggs, and…it’s the last Friday of the month today, so here’s my take on the book!
A mysterious island. An abandoned orphanage. A strange collection of curious photographs.
A horrific family tragedy sets sixteen-year-old Jacob journeying to a remote island off the coast of Wales, where he discovers the crumbling ruins of Miss Peregrine’s Home for Peculiar Children. As Jacob explores its abandoned bedrooms and hallways, it becomes clear that the children were more than just peculiar. They may have been dangerous. They may have been quarantined on a deserted island for good reason. And somehow—impossible though it seems—they may still be alive.
Okay, I will start by saying that I own a paperback of this book as you can see on the picture up here, but I listened to the audiobook version via my new app (Storytel; totally recommended but not available in many countries yet, unfortunately) for about 75% of the book. Hence, my final judgement is mostly based on that.
Let’s start with the book in general. As you’ve probably heard or seen somewhere by now, there are pictures in this book. Real pictures of real people. At first, I thought it was awesome because they’re not just your average pictures. They’re black and white, and old, with either peculiar looking people or people posing peculiarly (or both) in front of the camera. You can see an example of this on the cover with a floating girl in front of a creepy looking background.
After a while, though, it started to get on my nerves a little. The pictures in itself were still pretty darn cool, but to me, it seemed like the author just spread out a bunch of those odd pictures on his desk and invented a story around them. Which, let’s be fair, he probably did, but it was so obvious? “Here’s a guy with a red beard who’s looking kind of creepy. Ya know what? Let’s give all the evil characters a red beard!“
Mixed feelings about this! On the one hand, it’s a certainly a creative way to write a book. On the other hand, I just felt like I could’ve come up with the same kinds of background stories as well? Meaning it’s not very imaginative at all.
The less you know about the story, the better; the best quality of the book is not knowing where the story will lead you. Which accounts for many books, of course, yet, some of them can be re-read again while discovering all kinds of new and exciting things. If I have to read this book again, I don’t know if I’ll be able to abstain myself from falling asleep.
While the characters could’ve been awesome, most of them fell pretty flat to me. This is most likely largely due to the narrator of the audiobook version, but just looking at the characters in general doesn’t get me very excited either.
Jacob, the protagonist is a 16-year-old boy with ‘issues’. I didn’t really feel any sparks coming off his character. In fact, he’s often so boring he can’t even entertain an idea.
Emma Bloom, the female main character (in my opinion), is more adventurous but seems a little too eager to me at times when it comes to smooching. She could be a product tester for Viagra for crying out loud (don’t worry, though, little ones, there is no real sexy time in this book. I’m just saying it would’ve been a different case if it were up to Emma!).
The only two characters I liked were Miss Peregrine, and Horace, a boy who always dresses like a true gentleman from the ’40’s, monocle included.
Since I’m not going to tell you more about the story, apart from the fact that it really isn’t as scary as I thought it would be, let’s move on to my thoughts on the audiobook.
Ah yes, the audiobook. When I started listening to it, I thought: “Great! Slow paced, clear voice, I can totally work with this without getting distracted and having to rewind whenever I lose track of the story because of it.“
Then, Jacob’s grandfather, Abe Portman, was introduced. Abe is Polish. Abe, however, speaks with a German accent. Mkay, shit happens, it’s probably a fluke, right?
When it comes to the narrator (Jesse Bernstein): he doesn’t know his arse from his elbow when it comes to accents. Miss Peregrine? A German transvestite. Emma Bloom and most of the other peculiar children? Mentally challenged transvestites coming straight out of the Mary Poppins movie. And just when you thought you heard it all, there’s a Welsh sheep farmer who sounds like Apu from the Simpsons…
Needless to say, this pretty much ruined a LOT of my experiences with the book. The suspense that is in there falls dead, and while the atrocities of accents are kind of funny at first, they will really start to get on your nerves after a while.
As I’ve heard the series gets better (and I bought the boxed set right away because I thought it was going to be awesome), I will read the sequel and hope for the best. It will probably help a lot that they have replaced the narrator with someone who is capable of doing a proper British accent. Jesse Bernstein has a nice and soothing voice, but he should really stick to his own American accent.
The story, in general, was okay but not as exciting as I hoped for. Can still be recommended to the faint-of-heart because it’s really not that scary. The narrator of the audiobook couldn’t hit sand if he fell off a camel when it comes to his European accents. This book is a hype for me: an okay book mostly. I hope the movie is better.
Links to the book: