I know it seems that I’m always writing these glowing reviews about the books I read, and it’s true! I do love to read, and I love it when an author gives me a part of themselves. It’s hard not to love reading when you know that someone has reached deep into their soul and given us something heartwarming, funny, or interesting to take with us. But even I can admit that there are times when a reading (or in this case, audio book) experience is…less than stellar. So, without any further delay, I give you a review for the Audio Book “Miss Peregrine’s Home for Rejected X-Men Characters” Sorry… Miss Peregrine’s Home for Peculiar Children by Ransom Riggs
(Disclaimer: I am an Amazon Affiliate, so when I talk about Audible, and you sign up for a trial, or a subscription, I get money at no cost to you! While I don’t recommend this particular book on Audible (you’ll see why) I do recommend the service as a whole. Just grab something like Harry Potter, or World War Z instead…
First of all, let me start by saying that there are some GREAT set ups and twists in this book, some interesting themes, and some awesome scenes, so this could very well be a good read, I don’t know. Perhaps I’ll read the hard copy of the book some time this year (think it’s a good idea? Let me know in the comments!) but this audio book was, quite honestly, painful to listen to. I had decided to give it a go on audio for a couple reasons
1-The Book Club I was in was reading it, so I needed to get through it in some way, shape or form
2- It was near Valentine’s Day, and I was working at Edible Arrangements, so I needed something to focus on while creating fruit bouquets that was not the mindless chatter of those around me.
3- I’m woefully over my head in terms of audio books, and thought this would be a good, solid place to start.
Oh boy, was I in for mediocrity and confusion.
Now, I think my reservation with Audio books comes from the idea that if you don’t have different Voice Actors for different roles, how will you know who is who? (My only other experience with audio books was World War Z by Max Brooks, and Oh. My. God. is that thing awesome.) Self, I said, you’ve listened to many a story read out loud, and context clues make that question completely lazy and ridiculous. Besides, what’s the worst that could happen?
My biggest mistake was asking “what’s the worst that can happen?” because I’ll tell you what the worst thing that could happen was.
The Voice Actor read 95% of the characters’ voices in the same high pitched vaguely british accent. Anyone non-male or under the age of 18 sounded like a wretched orphan girl from a dickens play at your local grade school. The main male pre-teen protagonist? Wretched Orphan Girl. The romantic foil? Wretched Orphan Girl. The human beehive? W.O.G. Back mouth? W.O.G.
It was so distracting, I could barely focus on the story at hand. And when I could focus on that, what I got was the following (I think there may be a spoiler in here. I’m not really sure what was relevant and what wasn’t):
There is a small subset of people who have really weird super powers, and less than half of them are practical or awesome. Most of them are like “floats away all the time, and has to wear literal lead shoes or be tied to things like a human balloon,” or “Always has a mouth full of bees,” or “Has a mouth on the back of their head.” Now, some of them are pretty awesome (Controls plants, turns invisible, etc) and a few of them are Queen of the Weirdos quality mutations. These are the Ymbrynes, who control time and also turn into birds. They are responsible for governing the peculiars, and also keeping them safe from the invisible monsters who literally feed on peculiars, and their weird human cult followers.
Turns out, my man Jacob (the main protagonist) is actually a peculiar (like his grandfather before him) but his power is that he can see the invisible monsters. Not all invisible beings, just these particular ones. Which is like…barely useful in terms of real world practicality. Now, his family did him a huge disservice, by not believing his equally weird grandfather when he would talk about back mouth, bee guy, and the rest of the weirdos he had met, so Jacob just thinks Grandpa is suffering from PTSD (he fought in WWI) and when an invisible monster shows up at Grandpas house and drags him into the woods, Jacob (who is the only one who could actually see this thing, and had NO idea what it was) understandably gets very distraught, and his family and friends think he went crazy, and bring him to a psychiatrist.
Jacob and the psychiatrist convince his dad to take him out to where his grandfather used to live (for closure) which sparks this nutcase adventure.
Like I had mentioned before, there are some BEAUTIFUL twists, surprises and interesting notions that could possibly have read better if I wasn’t trying to figure out who was talking (Which Wretched Orphan Girl is speaking now?!)
The pacing is fine, the story is unique-ish, although it’s VERY clear that the author had collected these photos and THEN wrote a story about them, because they’re kind of just shoved in piece meal and scenes with the pictures seem to be more lovingly written than scenes that contain characters. I like the idea of “some mutations just suck” but I can’t be positive this book is the way to go with that. It’s like Moist from Dr Horrible’s Sing Along blog. Like I get why he’s there, but if your character is so one dimensional “a person that’s a balloon” is all you have for them, maybe you need some more editing? NOTE: I understand that there is a whole series devoted to these characters. But if your first book is hard to get through, it’s doing a disservice to your second and third ones.
4 out of 10. That W.O.G. voice is painful.