I read this trilogy in October to prep me for Halloween. Some of the photos used in the books were quite creepy, so I thought they’d be appropriate.
So here we go again… another trilogy that revolves around powers. I know what you’re thinking:
This reviewer is all over the place when it comes to this subject in YA novels! One day she likes it, the next day she hates it. She just flip flops at whim!
Guilty. BUT it’s appropriate when you’re analyzing how the subject is being used. Magic and powers can become corny fast if not utilized properly. Half the time it seems like an author throws it in just because they think it’s a quick way to get published. Sure, it’s a popular subject that young adults enjoy, but that doesn’t mean it should be used where it doesn’t belong. I pride myself on my judgement of when certain subjects are necessary or appropriate, and it just so happens that a lot of my recent posts revolve around the subject of powers or magic.
So does this book baby approve of Riggs’ use of powers?
Yes. YES I DO.
Because Riggs didn’t complicate his story with multiple subjects that are fighting for our attention. The entire series revolved around these peculiar children and their abilities, and how he antagonist wished to utilize them. I hate to keep bringing it up, but Ewing’s trilogy is a perfect comparison to show how not to use magic or powers. She had two major subjects that were fighting for attention: the dystopian society and the magic. Trying to make them co-mingle was brave, but it didn’t really work. Riggs on the other hand just followed the one subject, making it easier for the reader to enjoy. Why complicate things when the simplicity is what is expected?
I also like the fact that each character had a unique ability, and that most of them weren’t entirely useful or seemed pertinent to the fight. It’s not like Aveyard’s characters where everyone with powers has the ability to be deadly. Having someone who throws fire or can control beasts is one thing, but having others who float or predict the future is another; not every child is warrior, so it’s interesting to see how each peculiar child shines throughout the series. For example, having the ability to control bees seemed sort of useless to me… but then in the second book we have a moment where the boy sacrifices his bee friends to save his peculiar friends, forcing the bees to sting and kill their enemies. He also used the invisible boy to do simple, but important, tasks like secretly following enemies and sneaking around for information. It was really clever how Riggs found ways to make everyone useful. There are plenty of other examples, but I don’t want to give it all away.
I also like the fact that Riggs gave us ample time to get attached to each kid. Both the first and second novel include all of Miss Peregrine’s children, and they each have the chance to tell their story, prove their worth, and make a reader fond of their company. By the third novel when we are only left with Jacob and Emma, you find yourself missing the others. An this is not to say that Jacob and Emma are boring (far from it! They actually make an interesting couple, and they are strong stand alone characters), it’s just that you find the two in situations where you think, “oh they could really use so-and-so’s help right now… I hope they’re okay!”. When they find their friends close to the end of the third book, you can’t help but rejoice! Maybe it was the pictures of the children in the novel that really got me attached to them (put a real face to attach my emotions to), or it could have just been Riggs’ storytelling, but either way I quickly found myself adoring each or these peculiar children.
The way that Riggs introduced new Peculiars unto the series was also clever. The readers weren’t overwhelmed by meeting orphanages filled with a dozen new children, but rather found ransacked homes where only one or two were left behind by the antagonists. This meant we had a couple of pages to watch Miss Peregrine’s children get to know someone for a chapter or two; enough to hear there story and even care about them. The gypsy boy who was slowly disappearing was one of my favorites, and the two girls they met in that bathroom during the bombing were quite captivating as well. Even though the reader only gets a few pages to meet them, you still feel like it was worth it to have them in the story. They weren’t there for too long or too short a time… it was just right.
I will admit that some of the language confused me at first, but that’s to be expected when a book creates a new world or idea. Ymbrynes, hollowgasts and wights stumped me for a bit, but Riggs did an excellent job explaining so I was up with the lingo in no time!
The time loops sort of threw me off every so often, but that could be just because I read one book right after the other. I was fine during the first book, but while reading the second book I kept having to remind myself that they were in a different year and major location. And by the third book, I often blanked that they were in the present since I had just gotten used to the time loop from the second book. But this was my own fault; I overlooked the details about the loop they were in because I was too anxious to read more about each kid and the general plot line as they worked to save Miss Peregrine and the othwr children.
It was also interesting to see that there were more than just peculiar children in these books. It isn’t until we get to the third book that we really start to meet the adults (other that Ymbrynes). I really liked the physician woman who had to elimiate pieces of her own body to heal others.
There was also a great amount of action in the final book. First when Jacob and Emma save the other children, and then when they go to the library of souls. I like it how not all of their problems were solved in a single battle. In fact, despite their ability to kill most of the wights and hallowgasts during the first fight, they still end up losing in a way; they become prisoners again as Miss Peregrine’s brothers force Jacob to help them in the Library. Things weren’t neatly wrapped up in the end; they still needed to end it all.
The fact that it took Jacob almost the entirety of the second book to understand how he can sense the hollows, and then the entirety of the third to learn of to control them was a smart move for Riggs. If he made Jacob’s power instantaneous, the reader would have been annoyed and left wondering why he had no powers before when it was clearly so easy to obtain and control them. Giving him time to accept and work through his power made him seem more human, which is VERY important to the definition of a peculiar in my eyes; they’re just humans with an oddity. If he just picked up the power in a flash, I would classify him as a supernatural entity or something… far from human.
Peculiars are human! Easy as that. I think that’s why I enjoy Riggs’ approach so much. I don’t see these kids as powerful magicians or supernatural heroes. They’re just kids! Odd, but human.
I don’t want to say much more for fear of ruining the series. All I can say is that I’m sure most books babies will enjoy this series. It’s entertaining and slightly addictive, so give yourself enough time to read them all!
I’m off to watch the movie now. I doubt it will be as good as the book, but it might still hold a surprise or two!