Miss Peregrine's Home for Peculiar Children

by Ransom Riggs

Hardcover, 2011




Quirk Books (2011), Edition: 1st, 352 pages


After a family tragedy, Jacob feels compelled to explore an abandoned orphanage on an island off the coast of Wales, discovering disturbing facts about the children who were kept there.

Media reviews

Boken är knappast ett stilistiskt mästerverk. Dialogerna krystas stundom fram och vissa figurer är lika blodfattiga som de spöken som förföljer dem. Det som gör verket unikt är bilderna
4 more
The author’s ability to use the photos to play with the reader’s imagination, while still holding the tension of the plot, is extraordinary. This kind of device can feel like a self-conscious reminder of the authorial hand, but this is not the case in Miss Peregrine’s Home.
In Miss Peregrine’s, a teenager decides to investigate the stories his grandfather told him about an island off the coast of Wales. He finds more than he bargained for, of course, and there are adventures, involving a group of kids with remarkable abilities which are almost, but not quite, entirely similar to mutants from X-Men comics. For a story constructed to make use of a collection of vintage snapshots, it’s impressively cohesive, and there’s certainly nothing wrong with yet another recounting of the hero’s journey from callow youth to manhood. But the book never lives up to its own aesthetic, and the story refuses to get past surface level on the occasional odd idea or intriguing concept. Whatever its faults, Miss Peregrine’s only true sin is that, presentation aside, it isn’t really that peculiar.
Entertainment Weekly
Those Creepy Pictures Explained The idea for Miss Peregrine's Home popped into Ransom Riggs' head when he ran across some sinister-looking vintage photos, which ''suggest stories even though you don't know who the people are or exactly when they were taken.'' As he began writing, he kept searching for images, even combing swap meets and flea markets. ''I was developing the story as I was finding the photos. I'd find a particularly evocative photo and I'd say, 'I need to work this in somehow.' '' Most are reproduced in the novel ''as is,'' but a few have been digitally altered. Riggs says he ended up with more photos than he could use: ''I have a nice big fat backlog for the second book.'' — Keith Staskiewicz
With its X-Men: First Class-meets-time-travel story line, David Lynchian imagery, and rich, eerie detail, it's no wonder Miss Peregrine's Home for Peculiar Children has been snapped up by Twentieth Century Fox. This is a novel with ''movie adaptation'' written into its powerful DNA. B+

User reviews

LibraryThing member lkernagh
Okay, how can anyone resist at least glancing at a book with such a Gothic title and the intriguing cover photo of a levitating girl in period piece dress? Not me, that is for sure!

the YA narrator of this story is 16 year old Jacob. Like most kids, Jacob was fascinated by the strange, outlandish tales his grandfather would tell Jacob of his time spent at a home on an island off the coast of Wales during the second World War. A home filled with, according to the tales Jacob's grandfather told, peculiar children with unique abilities. As a teenager, Jacob grows to question his grandfather's tall tales as myths and lies until the day of his grandfather's unexpected death, leaving Jacob facing nightmares and countless sessions with a therapist. When Jacob discovers a mysterious letter, he decides to journey to Wales to visit the place where his grandfather grew up.

This story drew me in with the prologue and I settled in expecting a haunting, Gothic ride of creepiness and, well, peculiarity. The first couple of chapters, after the prologue, left me a little disappointed and wondering where the story I was expecting had disappeared to. I was starting to feel that a bait and switch had occurred and I wasn't overly amused at that prospect, but the odd sniff of a creepy Gothic mystery would peek out at me from time to time, along with the intriguing Victorian-like photos of unusual portraits that cropped up from time to time, so I continued reading. I am so glad I did. Yes, the story did grow into something fascinating and did finally became a page-turning adventure for me. Not quite the Gothic horror I was expecting but still enough creepiness - and monsters, lets not forget monsters! - to make this a fun, October/Halloween read for anyone that like to ramp up their creepy, suspense reading during that time of year.

Overall, a good alternate reality adventure with a bit of Gothic creepiness, Victorian weirdness (courtesy of the photos scattered throughout the book) packed in a time travel ride I think both YA and adults will enjoy. The ending left off with the potential for a sequel so, one can always hope that there is a book #2 in the works under Riggs' pen.
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LibraryThing member auntmarge64
What a treat this book is! Part suspense, part fantasy, and beguilingly unique.

A teenage boy (Jacob) finds his grandfather dying - the grandfather who used to tell fantastic stories of his childhood at a strange island orphanage in Wales and illustrate his tales with photos of odd-looking children and descriptions of monsters. The grandfather pleads with him to go to the island, where he'll be safe, whispers some enigmatic phrases and then "I should've told you a long time ago", and dies, and as Jacob copes with his grief, he determines to travel to the island and search out the truth. What he finds will forever change his life.

Magical, thrilling, and lovingly illustrated with the photos and letters described in the story. This is one of those books that will appeal to adults and older kids equally, and I'm going to pass it on to my 11- and 20-year old nieces and see what they think.
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LibraryThing member arielfl
This seems to be a very polarizing book. People seem to either love it or hate it. Sadly I was on the disappointed side. I won't rehash the plot, there was so little and it seems to be completely raked over in other reviews. The main problem for me was that the pictures were the focus and the story was an after thought. There are places where the author is really reaching to connect the pictures to the story. A secondary problem was that the main character was making out with a girl who made out with his grandfather. Too weird for me. I thought the creepy pictures would facilitate a great story but something got lost in the execution of the book. I didn't connect enough to the characters in the book to want to pursue a sequel. I think it will be enough to leaf through the pictures. By the way, I read this for the R.I.P. challenge currently being held over at Stainless Steel Droppings. You should swing by and check out some of the other reviews as this seems to be a popular challenge choice.… (more)
LibraryThing member janeajones
I read this book because I saw an article in the local paper about the author visiting a Sarasota school from which he had graduated -- as it happened he had graduated from the school the same year my son did, and they had been classmates though not close friends. I was intrigued.

Miss Peregrine's Home for Peculiar Children is a YA gothic fantasy novel that begins in Englewood, Florida, where Jacob Portman's grandfather Abraham is killed by what the police determine must be a wild animal. But sixteen-year old Jacob was present at the attack and remembers seeing something else that he cannot describe. He hears his grandfather's dying words: "Go the island, Yacob. Here it is not safe.... Find the bird. In the loop. On the other side of the old man's grave. September third, 1940."

Thus begins Jacob's quest for the Welsh island where his orphaned grandfather was raised before WWII. It takes most of the rest of the novel for Jacob to decipher his grandfather's cryptic message and discover the mystery of the "peculiar children." While some of the plotting is predictable and some of writing reflects the efforts of a first novel, an intriguing and original aspect of the book is the incorporation of vintage "found" photos of both "freaks" and ordinary people to illustrate the book.… (more)
LibraryThing member ken1952
A fine fantasy novel, accompanied by eerie photographs, about a teen traumatized by his grandfather's death. His desire to learn the truth about his grandfather's life leads him to an island off Wales where he learns the secrets, wonders and dangers of Miss Peregrine's Home for Peculiar Children. Looking forward to the next installment.… (more)
LibraryThing member Whisper1
Highly creative and original, this was indeed a very interesting book. Shiny bright in some chapters, but lacking in patina in the later pages, much has been said about this book. There are some very positive comments, and then others could not abide the tale. I'm smack in the middle of feeling luke warm.

For most of his life, Jacob has listened to graphic tales spoken by his grandfather. Attributing the conversations to dementia, Jacob listened with interest, then boredom. When his grandfather is killed by a strange creature, Jacob begins a quest to get to the bottom of his grandfather's references.

Journeying with his father to a secluded island in Wales, Jacob finds strange children who are particularly abnormal. Among those in the care of Miss Peregrine is a girl who can float, another who has a mouth in front and in back of her face, a young man who can lift incredibly large boulders, a boy who is invisible and a charming girl who flicks fire at the end of her fingers.

Realizing that these are those mentioned by his grandfather, Jacob is able to transport into a time warp -- a loop where the date is always the same and time is frozen in place.

Augmented by various photos of the peculiars throughout the book, done in sepia duotone, the tale becomes more eerie and surreal.

Realizing that his grandfather was a peculiar and he is as well, Jacob must make a decision to stay or return home with his father.

The first chapters were wonderfully creative, but the later part of the book spun out of control and chase scenes, boogiemen and gore prevailed.

Guardedly recommended.
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LibraryThing member phoebesmum
Another much-hyped but disappointing title. I was rather left feeling that the author is unfamiliar with the fantasy genre and is under the touching impression that he’s created something new and terribly clever. Poor dear. No.

A nondescript American teenager persuades his father to let him visit a remote Welsh island to track down his grandfather’s fantastic stories of children with remarkable features and abilities and the monsters who hunt them, and finds those children still alive, protected by a loop in time that resets itself every day, on a certain date in WWII. So far, so commonplace. The McGuffin here is the inclusion of a selection of weird and creepy found photographs, which are supposed to illustrate the text. Sometimes they do; sometimes they get in the way. Sometimes the text appears to have been manipulated by the author specifically to include a particular photograph, and sometimes the photos don’t seem to fit at all. Still, full marks for effort there.

Less than full marks, I’m afraid, for research: the dialogue is full of Americanisms (we don’t wear ‘slickers’, just for a kick-off), and, even where the author has tried to get it right he sometimes gets it wrong. He knows, for example, that the British nowadays use the metric system – officially, that is, I don’t know anyone who actually does. Unfortunately, he doesn’t know that it wasn’t current in the Second World War, and I’m afraid I laughed immoderately when his WWII era children talked about ‘metres’.
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LibraryThing member readingover50
I have been eager to read this book since it came out. It sounded really creepy and I had high hopes for it based on early positive reviews I had read. Unfortunately this book did not live up to my expectations. I guess I was hoping for something that had more appeal to adults as well as kids, like the Harry Potter and Twilight books. The writing in this book was definitely geared more towards a younger reader, I would think 10-12 year olds would really like it. What kid wouldn't want to find out he is special and has some type of power.

I thought the plot was interesting and different. The island in the book sounded fascinating. The ending of the book was set up for a sequel, but I don't think I will be reading it. The photos in the book were fun to look at and added to the atmosphere in the story. I would recommend this book for middle school kids looking for something fun to read.
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LibraryThing member Kelly_Mills
Based on all the hype I thought I would love this book. It wasn't bad by any means, but I didn't find it to be anything special either. I actually liked the concept of the book more than the story. The author wrote a plot around some antique photos, which is a unique approach. However I found that I didn't particularly like any of the characters and although the book ends on a cliffhanger of sorts, I'm not inspired to read the sequel to find out what happens. Perhaps my expectations were too high, but I'm unable ro recommend this book.… (more)
LibraryThing member Cailin
I loved the old pictures and enjoyed the story but somehow thought it could be better. I felt some of the characters were underdeveloped. I enjoyed the book but it kind fo fell flat for me.
LibraryThing member blancaflor
It might be a bit of a waste to buy this as an ebook, whereas much of the magic of this book rests in physically holding it, and running your fingers along its spine as it sits on your shelf. Of a bemused guest leafing through its photographs, of sharing it with someone as a book, rather than a piece of data.

That being said, there is a real story here. Perhaps fantastic, but not ordinary, and full of adventure.

Time travel, monsters, magical abilities are all couched within the realm of a realistic fictional beginning and take the reader along on a journey to the fantastical where our protaganist finds himself coming of age in the most peculiar of circumstances.
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LibraryThing member Lauraborealis
This book was not meant for me. I say that as a staggering minority, and since I just completed it today I’m compelled to write a review since I am pushing myself to write more book reviews and to read more books. I don’t think that my opinion should be devalued just because it goes against the majority, and I guess I should admit that I am reviewing this as a person who copywrites for a living. So I’m editing, proofing, and researching content 40+ hours a week.

I found the book in a thrift store, and because of the unusual title, I grabbed it. I had never heard of the author nor the book, but I’ve found some gems in the past by grabbing random books at thrift stores. It seemed to be a conglomeration of many things that I like: vintage photography, time travel, WWII, teenage angst. I actually own some weird vintage photographs, and I even have in my possession two stereoscopes and something like 200+ cards for them, dating from the late 1890s to the early 1900s.

I read it over several days, so it was very easy to read, and it did keep my interest throughout. It was easy for me to put down, though, so much so that with only 20 pages to the end, I put it down before going to bed. I was expecting an interesting, eccentric storyline that would surprise me as I read it with maybe a few plot twists, and some interesting characters to go along with it. But what I got was an adult writing through the mindset of a 16 year old, and very obviously so. Many instances of what Jacob goes through are believably spoken and acted as a mature teenager. And many were odd, seemingly out-of-character actions that I had to re-read to even make sense of what they were saying. This doesn’t just happen with the main character, but with many characters throughout the story.

As I was reading this book, I knew within a few chapters that it was the first one the author had written. There were some interesting characters and ideas, but the entire plotline was plodding and predictable. Once the climax actually occurred, I was kind of scratching my head, having felt like it built up to a conclusion that didn’t really live up to the expectations it was trying to instill. And the clichés! I guess it was sort of supposed to be simplified to be a YA novel, but the amount of clichéd phrases and circumstances made many of the conversations between the characters trite and boring. I honestly thought that many of them were supposed to be under 10, only to find out that they’re actually mostly in their mid-teens.

So I will probably just stick to watching the movies for this series, since I wasn’t really compelled or interested enough in the characters to continue reading on. I do think it’s worth a read, because there are parts of the book that are imaginative and the writer himself obviously put a lot of heart into the story. I’d be interested in reading something else he writes, once he’s matured a bit as a writer.
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LibraryThing member Fourpawz2
This is kind of a YA Fantasy Time Travel story concerning a boy who has a grandfather who dies suddenly and horribly. The grandson goes off the deep end and is a mess for about a year, needing to go into psychoanalysis. He and his father travel to a little Welsh island where Gramps spent some time as a boy after he escaped from the Nazis during WWII. The boy finds that the house isn't there anymore having been destroyed during a German air raid - or was it??? Enter the Time Travel element to this story. I liked this book quite well. The story was supplemented by a lot of photographs - many of them of real people - that Riggs has decided to designate as the portraits of a number of his characters - mostly of the 'peculiar children' referenced in the title. For some reason I found the photographs especially creepy. Though I am not a YA fan, I liked this book.… (more)
LibraryThing member SpazzyDragon13
Miss Peregrine's Home for Peculiar Children was one of those books that I kept seeing reviews for everywhere. The best part? All the reviews were good and included the word 'creepy'. Those two things made me want to read it even more than I already had. So, naturally, I was ecstatic when I received it as a birthday present. (Not that I could read it right away, since a family member decided to take it and read it fist. :d)

That being said, when I finally was able to get my hot little hands on a copy of this book, I was instantly hooked. I LOVE books that grab you right from the beginning. There was no suspension that had to be built up for me to become interested. Not to mention the floating little girl on the cover...who could trun this book away and not want to know what the heck a floating girl is doing on the cover to begin with and WHY exactly she is floating!? I couldn't.

Character wise, they were brilliant. All the characters were unique and easy to distinguish. Another major thing that I liked about this book, was how the author kept the language confined - for lack of a better term - to the time area the person was from. The language also made certain situations laughable. (For instance, the scene where Millard is wounded. Bahaha.)

Plot wise...EPIC. I don't think I really need to discuss this. Its pretty obvious that the plot is going to be big, based off the prologue. Also, I don't think I SHOULD discuss it. Too many spoilery-spoils!

Lastly...the author. His name is Ransom Riggs (EPIC NAME!) and he has successfully gained a humongous new fan. Why? 1. His story is really good. Really, really good. 2. He managed to pull off the attempt of combining two of my favourite things; photography and a good book.
Photography is a passion of mine, and so is writing. So, naturally, I love books too. I don't know why its taken so long to find a book with a plot that also included pictures. I'm seriously fan-girling over here about it. Its not something that's easily explained, so you should just go read this book. Like now. Go. Buy it. Read it. Enjoy it. Squee.
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LibraryThing member aralis11
I recieved this book several months ago in the Early Reviewer's Giveaway but only just got around to reading it. I have to say that it was certainly an interesting book-especially with the combination of the found photographs illustrating the story, but I still feel that it fell flat a bit. Maybe because it ends abruptly as the author clearly has a series in mind.… (more)
LibraryThing member norabelle414
Jacob Portman's grandfather is a little crazy. He stockpiles guns and rants about monsters that are searching for him. As long as Jacob can remember, his grandfather has told him stories of magic and monsters, and shown him obviously fake photographs of his "friends" with special powers at his childhood boarding house in Wales. Jacob just assumes that his grandfather made up the stories to cover up the actual horrors he experienced as a Jewish child in Europe during WWII. That is, until the day his grandfather is mauled to death by a monster that only Jacob can see. As he bleeds to death in the Florida forest, Jacob's grandfather has one last message for Jacob: He must visit the old boarding school in Wales, and everything will be explained.

This book is incredible. So vivid and original and intelligent and terrifying. The book is filled with old photographs that match some of the scenes and characters in the story, and all of them are actual found photographs from the time period. Even if they are doctored very slightly, that's still amazing! The storytelling was so vivid and engrossing, and the pictures so very creepy, that I'm pretty sure this book gave me nightmares. Which has never happened before. It's very rare for me to say this, but I really think this book needs to be made into a movie, preferably by M. Night Shyamalan.

However, major points off for not being a stand-alone book. I have no problems with series, but the end of this book has absolutely no resolution, and that's so not cool.
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LibraryThing member ErisofDiscord
Jacob's grandfather told him stories when he was a small boy, stories of children with incredible powers, and he showed him pictures of these children - a boy who was completely invisible except when he was wearing clothes, a petulant faced girl who could levitate above the ground and a boy who could lift rocks the size of the Statue of Liberty's big toe. Jacob's grandfather said that he knew these children, and he lived with them at a big old house on a little Welsh island.

When Jacob was a kid he believed everything his grandfather said, but as he grew older, he stopped thinking that his grandfather was telling the truth. But when his grandfather dies tragically, it leaves more questions unanswered in Jacob's mind. So Jacob journeys to the orphanage that his grandfather lived in to find out the truth in his grandfather's past. Are the peculiar children still alive? And when Jacob's grandfather died, why did Jacob see a monster with tentacles for tongues at the scene?

Jacob was a wonderful protagonist that I identified with - he constantly tried to do the right thing throughout the book while protecting the people he cared out. The relationship he had with his grandfather and his desire to be like him was well portrayed. Most of the characters are very interesting, and their different personalities add to the richness of the novel.

The photographs that helped illustrate the novel were an excellent touch, and I didn't learn until I read the author's note on the back of the book that they are all vintage photographs! Except for a tiny bit of processing on a few of them, those classic photographs had been borrowed from collections. Riggs built his story around those photos, and the weirdness of the photos added another layer of individuality to this book.

The plot and pacing is quick, and the writing is not lazy or bland - it has the voice of an intelligent and blunt sixteen-year-old boy. I read this book in a day and a half, and it even made me forget about viral videos on YouTube. Since Miss Peregrine's Home for Peculiar Children was able to sever me from the internet and immerse me in a world of invisible boys, girls who hold fire in their hands, bogs, time changing, and monsters with tentacles coming out of their mouths, I applaud Ransom Riggs - he has a talent for ensnaring minds.

This review written as a part of my 75 Books Challenge for 2012, as posted on the LibraryThing group of the same name.
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LibraryThing member Dale_Riechers
Big disappointment. The books idea was a good hook, but this stuff is for kids and television.
LibraryThing member sundowneruk
It seems to be a theme for me just lately, I just can't get into this one so putting it down for another day maybe
LibraryThing member Tyllwin
Miss Peregrine's Home for Peculiar Children is an illustrated YA novel. The first thing I noticed is that this Quirk Press volume is, physically, a very nice book, right down to the attractive end papers. I wish more publishers would take this care. I would have called this book in the paranormal genre, but since that's now synonymous with "vampires," let's call this one "modern fantasy."

In the publisher's descriptions, much is made of the integration of many photographs with the text. I think that's a bit overstated. The photos are an interesting and appropriate group of illustrations, but they're far from essential. Since some of the photos are nicely creepy, I very much prefer it with the photos, but you could conceivably publish an edition without them.

The basic plot of the book is that Jacob Portman wishes to investigate the mysterious death of his grandfather, using some photographs as the first clue. Along the path of his investigation, he runs across other photos, all of which are reproduced. His search will lead him to a remote Welch Island, and involvement with the paranormal. It's clearly the first book in a series, coming to a good stopping point, not an ending, at the close of the book.

It's an enjoyable enough read, suffering from one main flaw, that being that it's almost entirely plot-driven. Only Jacob himself is drawn with any depth. The rest of the characters are only lightly sketched in, and the underlying mythology isn't a very solid one. Even the setting isn't as fully realized as it might be. That said, the plot is a fun one, with enough darker elements to keep it from being syrupy, and I'd give this book a solid "B."

(Disclosure: Review copy was provided to me free as a part of LTER)
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LibraryThing member DeathsMistress
Now this was an interesting read. I didn't expect to like this book so much. Not only was this book a great read, but there was a fantastical visual aspect to it. The pictures went along splendidly with the story being told.

I'll be buying the sequel when it comes out for sure.
LibraryThing member wiremonkey
If you’ve browsed the YA shelves lately, you will have probably chanced upon a thick-ish book with a black and white cover. The title is written in old-fashioned script. The photo on the cover is of a pudge-faced girl in what looks like a turn of the century shift, a sort of tiara shading her eyes. If you look closer, you will notice that she is floating. On the back are other intriguing black and white photos. Two bald headed clown children. A girl standing alone be a pond, but the pond reflects two girls. A cloaked man and a boy going towards the light through a tunnel. A boy dressed as a bunny, crumpled on the sidewalk in despair.

Intrigued? I know I was. I finally got my hands on a copy (some lovely soul donated it to my library) and had some time to read it this March break.

The story is told through the perspective of Jacob, a slacker from a wealthy family in Florida. He grew up on his grandfather’s stories, of monsters in his native Poland, of the war and how it decimated his family, and of his time as an orphan in Miss Peregrine’s Home for Peculiar Children. When Jacob witnesses the violent death of his grandfather, everyone thinks he has had a nervous breakdown, including himself. It takes a trip to the small little Welsh island and to the home for peculiar children for him to find out the truth.

Through out this very creepy story are black and white pictures the author has used with permission form their collectors. And this is the part I find the most fascinating – the photos are all real. They have been collected through garage sales, bazaars by a few officianados. Riggs uses the photos as compliments to the text- they depict the peculiar children – the girl on the cover for instance turns out to be Olive the levitating girl. There is an invisible boy. A strong girl.

Another original aspect of the story is Riggs’ manipulation of time. The home lives in a time loop- where they re-live the same day over and over. This is what keeps them safe from the monsters and from the suspicious eyes of a world not ready to accept them.

I enjoyed this story quite a bit- the fantastic elements were well-thought out, imaginative and original. The character of Jacob, a typical teenage boy with not a lot of ambition or drive, is well-developed and believable as is his love interest Emma, a girl who can make fire out of her hands.

Riggs leaves the ending open for a sequel, though not so much in a bad spot that you want to kidnap the author and make them tell you the ending right now (the second Hunger Games anyone?). Still, I look forward to the next installment if only to get a glimpse at some of the fascinating photos.

But don’t take my word for it- watch his book trailer. Riggs was a filmmaker before he was a novelist, so it captures the creepy feel of the book wonderfully!
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LibraryThing member tikicats
Interesting story. The photographs as a back drop to the story was brilliant!
LibraryThing member patsaintsfan
I had high hopes... The beginning was rather good, sadly, I just didn't enjoy it much.
LibraryThing member cyderry
Rarely do I do a re-read. I have so many books that are waiting I don't use my reading time to read a book again, however, I'm glad I made an exception for this book. My Book club selected it and since I "read" it more than 2 years ago, I decided I needed to refresh my mind,. I selected, however, not to re-read the graphic novel I did in 2017 but the actual full book. Now I know why it was a sensation. The graphic novel in no way, shape, or form did this book justice. I now am convinced I will never read another graphic novel.

That said , this book has a perfect title because the children depicted are peculiar. But then aren't we all in someway? The story is so well-written showing teenage years perfectly with rebellion, insecurity, flashes of sexual tension as well as the distrust of adults and authority. Interwoven is a wonderful time travel scenario and a tremendous battle of good vs. evil.

The graphic novel gave none of that, earning barely ★★½ but the full tale was great, easily earning ★★★★!

Now I might even read Book 2!
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