Miss Peregrine’s Home for Peculiar Children (Miss Peregrine’s Peculiar Children, #1) – Ransom Riggs

Miss Peregrine's Home for Peculiar Children

Source: Bought at Supernova
Title: Miss Peregrine’s Home for Peculiar Children
Author: Ransom Riggs
Published: June 7th 2011
Pages: 352
Genre: Young Adult, Mystery, Paranormal
First Line: “I had just come to accept that my life would be ordinary when extraordinary things began to happen.” 

Synopsis: 

A mysterious island. An abandoned orphanage. A strange collection of very curious photographs.

It all waits to be discovered in Miss Peregrine’s Home for Peculiar Children, an unforgettable novel that mixes fiction and photography in a thrilling reading experience. As our story opens, 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.

Eh, eh….eh. Have you ever felt that after reading the synopsis of a book and hearing so much great feedback, you develop your own image in your mind of what the book’s going to be like? And then when you read the book, it just…isn’t?
Yeah. I have.

The novel was okay. That’s all I can really say. In my eyes, it certainly didn’t live up to all the hype surrounding it, and there were so many aspects that I wish had taken a different direction. I really enjoyed the beginning – I felt that it was very captivating and kept you interested, as well as maintained a healthy level of mystery. But it was at around the 1/3 mark that I got frustrated.

I went into the read expecting something creepy, a bit of a thriller-mystery, if you will. And while the first quarter was as I was hoping, by the time I reached the 1/4th mark the answer to the mystery was revealed. I was so disappointed! The novel could’ve been so much better if it had focused more on Jacob’s discovery of the peculiar children, him gradually slotting the pieces of the puzzle together until it all became clear. But nope! Just lay it out in front of us just as we were getting interested. And was I the only one that, after hearing of this isolated mansion full of…talented kids, immediately thought of X-Men? Because I swear, almost every time I turned the page I was expecting Professor Xavier to come wheeling in with his bald head and some philosophical quote.

The characters were alright, nothing stand out. I quite like the protagonist, and it was refreshing to read a young-adult novel from a male perspective. HIS WHOLE GRANDFATHER SITUATION BROKE MY HEART THOUGH. I’d definitely say that his grandfather was my favourite character in the whole thing, even though he wasn’t around for much. Just…sadness. So much sadness.
I didn’t so much enjoy the romance though…it felt irrelevant, as though it had just been thrown in there for the sake of having a romance. Plus, the love interest (don’t worry, no spoilers – I got your back) felt wrong. Just wrong. It made me feel like I was drinking sour milk, to be honest – you have a sip and then it doesn’t taste right, so all you want to do is wrinkle your nose and spit it back out.

The writing was pleasant, the stand out of the book I’d say. Ransom Riggs created a very atmospheric, dark mood which I enjoyed immensely and suited the storyline. It wasn’t too verbose, but wasn’t too brief. However, I was disappointed with the inclusion of photography – I’ve never really been exposed to many books that have an emphasis on illustrations/photography, and I was hoping that they’d play a bigger role in the novel. At first it worked, but as the story progressed it just became more irrelevant.

Overall, meh. I’d definitely say that I preferred the start of the book over the rest of it, but it still wasn’t a highlight. It’s good in the way that it’s suitable for both genders I think, but don’t go in with high expectations. It was an okay read – which isn’t bad, but it isn’t great. I am sad to say that I am disappointed. However, it was a good introduction into some darker, eerier books for Halloween so I guess I’ve found that silver lining. Unlikely to continue on with the series.

Rating: 3/5

The Infernal Devices (Clockwork Angel, Clockwork Prince & Clockwork Princess) – Cassandra Clare

 

The Infernal Devices

“we live and breathe words. it was books that kept me from taking my own life after I thought I could never love anyone, be loved again. it was books that made me feel that perhaps I was not completely alone.” – will herondale

Source: Bought
Title: Clockwork Angel, Clockwork Prince & Clockwork Princess (The Infernal Devices Trilogy)
Author: Cassandra Clare
Published: August 31st 2010, December 6th 2011, September 5th 2013
Pages: 479, 502, 565
Genre: YA, Fantasy, Paranormal, Romance, Historical (Steampunk), Urban Fantasy
First Line (of the first novel): “The demon exploded in a shower of ichor and guts.”

Synopsis (of the first novel):

In a time when Shadowhunters are barely winning the fight against the forces of darkness, one battle will change the course of history forever. Welcome to the Infernal Devices trilogy, a stunning and dangerous prequel to the New York Times bestselling Mortal Instruments series. 

The year is 1878. Tessa Gray descends into London’s dark supernatural underworld in search of her missing brother. She soon discovers that her only allies are the demon-slaying Shadowhunters – including Will and Jem, the mysterious boys she is attracted to. Soon they find themselves up against the Pandemonium Club, a secret organisation of vampires, demons, warlocks and humans. Equipped with a magical army of unstoppable clockwork creatures, the Club is out to rule to British Empire, and only Tessa and her allies can stop them…

Cassandra Clare’s The Infernal Devices trilogy, is beautifully written, heart-wrenching and promises to have you up all night gripping the pages and sobbing madly. The prequel series to Clare’s bestselling debut series, The Mortal Instruments, the story takes place in Victorian England, from the perspective of a young orphaned 16-year-old girl named Tessa Gray who travels to London, England in search for her older brother. Shortly after disembarking, she finds herself captured, tortured, and after a desperate attempt to flee, is saved by a handsome young man who goes by the name of Will Herondale. She quickly learns the hidden truth about London, and is sucked into a world of demons and Shadowhunters; half-angel, half-human warriors who fight a never-ending battle against evil. Still desperate to find her brother, she bands with these Shadowhunters to fight their common enemy. Meanwhile, she also finds herself caught between Will and Jem – two Shadowhunter best friends with a sacred bond closer than blood.

The plotline was very original and elaborate, with the interesting concepts of non-living creatures (automatons) entering a battle between angels and demons, avenging family deaths, dark underground societies and spiteful blood feuds. The setting of the story was breathtaking, putting you right into the era and created a magical atmosphere and aura. The story incorporated intense elements of revenge, betrayal and hatred that thickened the storyline, especially in terms of relationships characters had with one another. The story, while having a gripping action-narrative, mainly focused on these relationships between characters. The incorporation of literature and poetry in the storyline was simply beautiful, particularly with the quotes both spoken by characters and featured at the beginning of each chapter. The mutual love and passion for novels shared between Tessa and Will very strongly shaped their relationship with each other, especially in terms of comparing the characters from their favourite novels (A Tale of Two Cities) to themselves and also beautifully built upon their trust in each other. The love triangle was cleverly mastered, with two young men falling for the same down to earth, stubborn and straight-forward girl. The twist was, though, that one of the men was broken, hesitant to love (the heart-breaking cause revealed in the second book), and the other man was dying.

The characterisation, as with the case for most of Clare’s literacy wonders, was most certainly the strong point. The protagonist, Tessa, was strong-willed and straight to the point, yet had an optimistic and loving heart. Her ability to see things in an always truthful light led her to become both a realistic love interest and an admirable character.
“‘One must always be careful of books,’ said Tessa, ‘and what is inside them, for words have the power to change us.'”
However, the two main male characters, Will Herondale and Jem Carstairs, and their hugely contrasting personalities were the real highlights of the series. Will, with his sharp wit, beautiful exterior and renowned prowess in combat, was unwilling and hesitant to love, resulting in his reckless behaviour, quick temper and self-destructive actions. Although unbearably guarded, his broken and hidden heart of gold was flooded with despair and tragedy and the cause for his unwillingness to love or be loved is truly heartbreaking.
He was Will, in all his perfect imperfection; Will, whose heart was as easy to break as it was carefully guarded; Will, who loved not wisely but entirely and with everything he had.
Jem, on the other hand, with his love for classical music and always-forgiving nature balanced the pair out like fire and water. His soft words of comfort and ever-present understanding only added to the agonizing fact that he was dying, and forced to take a drug that was killing him slowly, but would kill him immediately if he stopped use.
“His beauty did not blaze like Will’s did in fierce colours and repressed fire, but it had its own muted perfection, the loveliness of snow falling against a silver gray sky.” 
The real heart-breaking aspect of the storyline, though, is not the relationship they had with Tessa (although that was a tear-jerker), but their relationship with one another. Bound by a sacred Shadowhunter oath, the two had a bond closer than blood, better than brothers. The very fact that Jem was dying was tragic, and really put into perspective their connection, how close they were with each other and how far they’d both be willing to go for the other person. Tying it in with their mutual love for the same girl, and you have yourself a story which pages are founded in tears.
“Our souls are knit. We are one person, Jem.” 

The Infernal Devices truly is a phenomenal read, with the rare ability to make you both cry and laugh simultaneously. The intricate and compelling action-packed storyline keeps you on the edge of your seat and the characters and their delicately woven relationships with one another will keep you up until the dawning hours of the morning, huddled under bedsheets and praying to make the pain in your heart go away. Clare has yet again moved, twisted and broken our hearts with her enchanting crafting of words and, to put it in the words of Tessa Gray, changed us.

Ratings: 
Clockwork Angel: 4.5/5
Clockwork Prince: 5/5
Clockwork Princess: 5/5