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Miss Peregrine's Home for Peculiar Children by Ransom Riggs

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Miss Peregrine’s Home for Peculiar Children, by Ransom Riggs, is a fantasy trilogy, the books being (in order) Miss Peregrine’s Home for Peculiar Children, Hollow City, and Library of Souls. The first book follows a teenage boy named Jacob Portman who seems to be a somewhat average boy living in Florida. One day, this all changes when his grandfather is killed mysteriously by some monster that no one else saw. Right before his grandfather dies, Jacob is instructed to go to an island in Wales to find Miss Peregrine and her orphanage, and she will explain everything to him. When Jacob goes there, it seems that everyone in the house died in World War II. However, it turns out that all the children in the house are not only alive, but have special abilities. They are simply preparing for a huge threat that could threaten the safety of the world. The rest of the trilogy follow Jacob and his new friends as they attempt to stop this plot.


At first glance, the books seem to be a cheap, child’s version of X-men. However, the plot and themes are actually much more complicated than it seems. One of the key themes from these stories is that true family is not necessarily  blood-related. In the beginning of the first book and the end of the third book, Jacob’s parents and uncles all distrust him and think he is mentally insane for believing his grandpa’s old stories about people with special abilities are true. They even tried to send him away to a mental asylum after catching his letters. Although they do love him, family must not only love but also care for and support each other in times of need. For example, the “peculiar” children were strangers at first to Jacob, but as time progressed, they became the closest friends and practically lived with each other. The amount of conflict they’ve been through as a group strengthened their bond, and created a relationship like or even stronger than family.

 

Another key theme, and one that I personally was very affected by, is that the thing we need the most yet have the least of is time. Ever since Jacob became involved with Miss Peregrine and the peculiar children, they have been hard pressed to do many things. There was always a deadline that had to be met, or else something horrible would occur. They had to stop Golan from getting off the island, they had to find other ymbryne (women who could manipulate time and turn into a bird) to save Miss Peregrine in a few days or else she would die, and they had to get to London and stop the evil from taking over the world among other things. There was no time to stop and breathe, as there was always something needed to be done. Although this was under much different circumstances in the book, this is the same feeling that people nowaday feel. There is always something needed to be done, for example, for students. There is always that paper you have to write, that project to finish, or that exam you have to study for. Even on breaks or weekends, students have to do extra-curricular to “help get them into college” or do extra work for school. There is few time to focus on anything else, and, as a fellow student, it feels like we are being suffocated in work, and this extends to adults as well. Many of them feel stressed about health care or retirement plans and such, and it's difficult to focus on the now. It does sound a little exaggerated, but time is extremely valuable – one can never regain time. At the end of the whole trilogy, Jacob ends the story feeling happy, saying “...those might be the three most beautiful words in the English language. We have time.” The relaxing feeling of having time to do whatever made Jacob feel happy, and is probably one of the few times someone is happy. People feel this sometimes, on break where they lie on a beach thinking about how great it is to just have so much time to do nothing. That’s what makes vacations so special, but this feeling has become less and less common. What this trilogy has taught me is that people should spend time doing things that they believe in, and shouldn’t waste it on unenjoyable things.

 

I very much enjoyed this series, and highly recommend it to people. It’s an amazing experience, and although it seems a bit childish, there is quite a bit of profanity and strong language throughout. I would recommend for people ages 12 and up, and even adults can learn a few things about it if they really delve deep into the words. There is also a movie about the first book, and although it doesn’t follow the same plotline and characterization as the book, it is still something worth watching. This series really made me think after finishing it, and it almost made me envious of the characters for going on such amazing adventures while I was stuck here in my boring house, which sounds ridiculous since they are fictional, but then I remembered a quote that Jacob said in the book: “I used to dream about escaping my ordinary life, but my life was never ordinary. I had simply failed to notice how extraordinary it was.” So to anyone who believes that life is boring, take a second look. Take your time and really see how different your life is, and make the most of it. 




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