Miss Peregrine’s Home for Peculiar Children :: Peculiar…in a Good Way

Ever since Miss Peregrine’s Home for Peculiar Children first hit stores, I’ve been dying to read it. The book is based around a collection of creepy old photos, many of which depict children with preternatural abilities. I read a lot of reviews on this book prior to reading it, and they weren’t all positive. I’m a little confused about this because I thought the story was fantastic. The old photos were a nice touch, but  the story itself was solid and written well for a teen audience. I wouldn’t call the book scary. Creepy, perhaps, but more adventurous than anything.

The story follows Jacob, who’s been listening to his grandfather’s far-fetched stories for years – tales of his so-called “friends” who are a little more than human. He even has the photos to prove it. But Jacob and his parents have always assumed his stories were just that – stories – until he became more certain of their authenticity in his old age. Jacob’s parents chalked it down to senility and dementia.

One day, his grandfather calls Jacob, insisting that the monsters are coming for him. When Jacob shows up at his house and discovers his shredded corpse, he gains a new perspective on everything his grandfather told him. Maybe he was telling the truth all along.

While recovering from his grandfather’s death with rest and therapy, Jacob discovers an old letter written to his grandfather from Miss Peregrine. Jacob decides to follow the clues whispered to him during the last moments of his grandfather’s life. He and his dad travel halfway across the world to a remote island where Miss Peregrine and her children are rumoured to live.

Jacob investigates the island, only to come across an old, decrepit house, half of it bombed to bits, the other half fallen to ruin. While searching the rotting house, Jacob encounters the very kids from his grandfather’s photos – kids who haven’t grown a day in all these years. One girl unwittingly leads him into the loop – a day trapped in time like Groundhog Day. It’s an early September day in 1940, the day before the house would be bombed and the children killed. All of the miraculous kids, along with Miss Peregrine, are destined to repeat the same day for the rest of their lives.

Jacob connects with these kids better than anyone else in his life. He’s torn between the decision to stay with his new friends or go back to his normal friendless life. But when a mysterious stranger arrives on the island, threatening the lives of all the children and their caretaker, Jacob realizes that a normal life is no longer an option.

The Night Circus by Erin Morgenstern :: Indescribably Different

The Night Circus by Erin Morgenstern has been the talk of the town for the past few months. No surprise, with such a deliciously quirky cover. But it’s strange. Every time I ask somone who’s read it to describe the plot, I’m met with blank, dreamy stares. Not one person could get beyond, “well, it’s about a circus that only comes at night (wow, really?), and, I don’t know, it’s hard to describe. But you should definitely read it.” So finally, I amazoned a copy right to my door. And I must say, I get it now.
How do you describe this indescribable book? I’ve spent the last half hour writing summary after summary, but I can’t quite nail it down. Nothing I write can capture the magic, mystery and ellusiveness of this novel. It’s just something you have to read for yourself. Did I enjoy it? Absolutely. Is it the best book I’ve ever read? No. But it’s the kind of book that you can’t compare to others. It doesn’t belong on the same rating scale. If you’ve read it, you probably understand where I’m coming from.

The Scorch Trials by James Dashner: My New Favorite Book

Every once in a while a book comes along that really changes your outlook on literature. At least it does for me. It’s rare, but it happens. The Scorch Trials by James Dashner did that for me. It opened me up to a genre that I never knew I loved–postapocalyptic science fiction for teens. I finished reading his first book in the series, The Maze Runner, feeling eager for more. He leaves you with a bit of a cliff hanger, wondering “what’s next?!”

So I immediately logged onto Amazon and ordered book 2. I have spent the entire month of March reading it, not because it was bad, or ridiculously long. The exact opposite, in fact. It was brilliant. Ten times better than The Maze Runner, and twenty times better than most teen books on the market.

In The Maze Runner, Thomas, along with a group of teenage boys and one girl are trapped in a place called the Glade which sits right next to a giant maze. Even though their memories are wiped and they have no idea why they’re stuck in there, they realize that they have to find a way out. But it’s not easy with these deadly, unearthly creatures called Grievers roaming through the maze at night. By the end of the book, they find a way out (but I won’t give away the “how”). But when they reach the outside world, it’s nothing like they expected. There’s been an apocalypse, and most of the survivors have been infected by a disease called the Flare, which essentially makes you crazy, wither and die.

In The Scorch Trials, the boys realize that their problems are far from over. In fact, in the Glade they lived a life of luxury compared to what’s to come. After being nearly starved to death, they learn about their next adventure (and by adventure, I mean a horrifying, deadly, depressing and questionable journey through a desert and the remains of a city, inhabited by crazy people who are infected by the Flare). And the worst part? They are infected, too. If they don’t make it to the “safe haven” in the alloted time, they won’t receive the cure.

Thomas knows that this is just another test by the organization called WICKED. He knows that they are studying him and his friends to see how they respond to the “variables.” And he knows that he was somehow a part of WICKED before his memories were wiped. How does he know all of this? Because his memories are starting to come back in his dreams.

The increase in intensity from the first book to the second is astronomical. I went days without reading it just because I was afraid I would read through the night and finish it. But yesterday I did finish it (sad face). And again I’m left wondering, “what’s next?!” I can’t wait until October for book 3. I just can’t.

James Dashner, you’re my new hero. (Please send me an advanced copy of your book to review. Pretty please?)