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Miss Peregrine's Home for Peculiar Children

picture of book cover

While I appreciate a dystopian universe as much as the next Hunger Games aficionado, I’ve been bothered by the recent trend of violence in young adult fiction. Even I grew weary of the vicious attacks by the last third of Mockingjay, and even with recent books I’ve enjoyed, like Ashes , I’ve felt that the level of gross violent acts was unnecessary.
That’s one of the reasons, although by far not the only, that Miss Peregrine's Home for Peculiar Children is so refreshing. Jacob grew up hearing fantastical stories from his grandfather Abraham about a special home for children with gifts, and their war against monsters. As he grows up he learns that his grandfather had in fact faced monsters, but they were Nazis. Abraham survived by being shipped off to a home for orphans in Britian.
Still, Jacob observes, “when I was a kid, Grandpa Portman’s fantastic stories meant it was possible to live a magical life. Even after I stopped believing them, there was still something magical about my grandfather. To have endured all the horrors he did, to have seen the worst of humanity and have your lie made unrecognizable by it, to come out of all that honorable and good and brave person I knew him to be – that was magical.”
When his grandfather is killed, Jacob begins a search to discover the story of the home where he met these strange children, and all of the sudden the reader discovers she's reading a science-fiction-esque young adult novel. And it turns out, it’s still pretty great.  Riggs, a screenwriter, nails the precocious protagonist, as Jacob is a sensitive teenage boy who is looking for a place to belong. It’s a coming-of-age story, with a not-overplayed analogy to the Holocaust, creative plot twists, and snappy writing. At one point, Jacob observes that one uncle was always “pulling people into corners for conspirational chats, as if plotting a mob hit rather than complimenting the hostess on her guacamole.” I even learned about types of falcons.
My only criticism is that the ending seems to be setting up Jacob for a sequel. I understand why this is the fashion of the times, but I yearn for YA books where there is a logical and comprehensive ending.