After a tragedy strikes the family of 16-year-old Jacob, with his father they embark on a journey to an island off the coast of Wales. There Jacob discovers the mysterious abandoned orphanage. Slowly he learns not only about his grandfather’s past, but also the history of children who once lived there, and finally – he learns the truth about himself.
I’m not exactly sure where to start, so I’ll start with the photos. The whole novel is written around them – old, creepy photographs showing children in eerie poses/situations; photos that can easily give the creeps by themselves. And they are the best part of the book. I loved the idea at the beginning – you know, when you look at the photograph and make up your own story of what may or may not have happened to the people in it to make them end up like this – or, better yet, what happened after the photo was taken. I for one loved that sort of imaging when I was a kid. Therefore, the premise was great and had LOTS of potential. Here’s why it’s disappointing.
First of all, the characters. I didn’t particularly like Jacob, or rather didn’t care about him. Maybe because he is trying to get fired from his job in the most obnoxious way, which makes him seem like a rich jerk. Despite his faults, though, it’s not like I hated him – more like I had no connection to him whatsoever, which made the novel a little harder to read. The other characters? The grandfather seems very interesting – knowing so much about fighting, about survival, having been in the Second World War, and telling all these fascinating stories about peculiar children and about monsters who are chasing after them. But he’s not in the story that much. Instead we have parents that are rather invisible – the only thing I remember about the dad was that he wanted to write a book about birds, but never really got around to finishing one. And about the mom? Nothing. Then, there are the children. Unfortunately, the only interesting things about them are their abilities – introduced in a rather sloppy way. I had troubles with distinguishing them from one another, they all seemed flat and basically the same. Miss Peregrine’s was a little better, but still annoyed me. I mean, she wasn’t especially open or honest with Jacob, and kept him unnecessarily in the dark about many things. I guess that was supposed to add to the mystery; instead just annoyed me.
Then, there is the story. It’s actually not that bad in itself, but there are two things I have to mention. First, the story doesn’t always corresponds well with the photos. Or rather – you need to stretch a lot, to make them fit. The other thing is, although this had a great start, and sounded like a super fascinating, though not great novel, slowed down the pace remarkably soon after the beginning, and couldn’t regain the first “bang” that I felt upon reading the start.
That being said, I’m not saying it’s a completely bad book. It certainly has a good premise, and some interesting concepts. The photographs themselves – despite not being entirely fitting into the story – are a great treat. The story may seem a little childish, but if you don’t mind, you’ll enjoy it. Overall, in my opinion, it would just need a little more editing, a little more of fully-fetched characters and maybe add some depth into the story? It could definitely lead to something much better than what we have. And what we have is a little messy, sometimes boring, but generally nice little story, for times when you’re bored and don’t want to be bothered with more serious literature.
Will not read the continuation, though.