Ransom Riggs’ teen bestseller, Miss Peregrines Home for Peculiar Children, tells a suspenseful, mind-altering tale of Jacob Portman, a typical sixteen-year-old boy. Though Jacob seems to be a normal teen at the beginning of the story, the audience learns that Jacob is truly gifted— or peculiar.
The adventure begins when Jacob tells about his past experiences with his grandfather. He explains that his grandfather used to reflect on his childhood, fabricating wild phenomena regarding a mysterious island he inhabited as a child after World War II. He told about children with inhumane qualities, such as a girl who could not succumb to gravity, a girl with two mouths, and a boy who had the ability to bring inanimate objects to life. Jacob’s grandfather even had black and white photos of these children to prove his instincts.
As a boy, Jacob truly believed in this frivolous nonsense. As he matured, however, Jacob became more in touch with reality and realized that there is no way that his grandfather’s myths could be true. His grandfather always had an uncultivated imagination.
Years pass by and Grandpa Portman grows mentally ill. After an extreme action scene in which Jacob sees his grandfather tortured and awaiting death, he listens to his grandfather last few sentences. His grandfather slowly demands that Jacob must “find the bird. In the loop. On the other side of the old man’s grave. September third, 1940. Emerson. The letter. Tell them what happened.” (Riggs, 33).
With absolutely no knowledge of his grandfather’s last few words, Jacob easily agrees, under the intention that his grandfather is severely ill and just spilling out random phrases. Little did Jacob know at the time, these concise statements were of great significance.
The suspense is immediately drawn. As Jacob undergoes serious family-related, mental, and emotional issues, he is severely committed to deciphering his grandfather’s demands.
As the story progresses, choices must be made. Risks must be taken. Jacob takes the journey of his lifetime and sees incredible marvels that one would never even imagine in his wildest dreams. During the entire book, the are several questions that must be answered, such as the curiosity pertaining to whether or not Jacob’s experiences are happening in his own life, or in some kind of chaotic dream-sequence.
Riggs did a stellar job at character development and suspense construction. One of the most unique elements of this fantastic read is the photographs that are included. Instead of requiring the reader to imagine every single mythological element, Riggs provides black and white photographs. The majority of the pictures are of the “peculiar children” mentioned in the title. This component truly makes this wonderful book stand out from most teen-bestsellers.
After reading such a fictional book, the reader is commanded to rethink reality. It is truly mind altering.