It has been a long while since I blogged.
Why haven’t I? Besides work, I sprained my left foot and was in a cast for almost a month. Although I was at home during those weeks, the atmosphere was never conducive for reading. If I was confined at a hospital, I might’ve finished it faster.
Now that that was taken care, I can now rave. I love this book! Granted that I was clued in by the title alone, Ransom Riggs still pulled a lot of surprises for the story.
(Warning: spoilers ahead!)
Frankly, it’s not really much of a spoiler that the book is about children with superhuman powers. The name of the book covered that part.
The lineup includes the usual suspects that have one of the following powers: shape-shifting, pyrokinesis, invisibility, clairvoyance, super strength, plant control, and levitation, among others. Some kids, despite being introduced by name, are still left as a mystery; their abilities were never mentioned in the book.
Also, there are unnatural skills but those just didn’t register with me. Maybe I wasn’t that impressed with them, even when there was a use for them—like that of Jacob. Although I was surprised as to what it was. That one really crept up on me.
Of all the kids in the book, I’ve taken a personal interest in what Enoch could do. His power is amazing, albeit temporary and makes quite a mess or smell for it to be fully realized. I tried recollecting from other groups with superpowers and his isn’t in theirs. Not usually, as far as I know. It’s not like his power isn’t reliable or desired; actually, a lot of people would want to have that same ability. But that extraordinary skill is hardly ever employed especially by the protagonists.
The power over the dead is usually regarded as an ability from the darkness. Not something that you’d want to associate with those who represent the light. And that’s what makes Enoch even more interesting. Of all the kids, he appears as more peculiar than the rest. Maybe it has to do with the nature of his power. And I believe he’ll have a very special part in the outcome of the war.
An Eternal Summer
There are two hooks in this book that really reeled me in.
First, World War II. I am endlessly fascinated with stuff about WWII and this book and some of its pictures send off echoes from that period. Granted, that was a dark time, especially for those who were caught in the middle of it. It was a huge learning experience for all humans. But even in places were darkness set foot, there were still traces of light, like those of Miss Peregrine’s Home. We all could use a shelter like that.
Second, an isolated paradise. Well, Cairnholm isn’t exactly fine white sandy beaches with green leafy palm trees, colorful singing tropical birds, and clear calm waters. But the idea of a place separated from the rest can seem so arresting and inviting—at least for me it does. It has such an otherworldliness that would either captivate you or upset you. (Can you tell I sorely need a far-off vacation?)
Following the White Rabbit
There was a moment when I could’ve sworn I was reading Alice’s Adventures in Wonderland. Just with some differences: in this book, Alice takes on a different form and chased after an unusual manifestation of the famous White Rabbit. And in getting to the bottom of the rabbit hole, the magic and the madness begins.
Well, the madness supposedly begun even before the actual chase. Because, in this book, Jacob suffers quite a shock that required him some badly needed therapy. And so he has sessions with a shrink. Why is it that therapies in movies and TV look fun but, in books, they’re a pain?
And the pain doesn’t go away that easily. It follows you, even when you’re on vacation.
Using photos as accompanying images in a book isn’t unheard of. But for this book, it’s what they picked out that’s striking. Sometimes, I’d just stare at those photos and wonder if the people in those pictures are still alive somewhere in the world. Wouldn’t that be amazing?
Then again, people age and some of them don’t bear any semblance to what they looked like as kids. Some of them might not even recognize the pictures of themselves as kids.
I looked up the etymology of peculiar and, according to www.etymonline.com, the oldest root for the word comes from the Latin term for cattle. Thinking of the children’s home as a cattle ranch and the kids as bovine? Not really a good picture.
But I do love Riggs’ attention to verbal details. You won’t just notice the differences of two worlds from the way the place and the people looked but also from the way they spoke. Their phrases and expressions, their wit and sensibilities over the same subject have such stark differences. The collective manner of the kids and their individual natures could highlight that of Jacob’s.
And that—plus everything I mentioned—is why I am excited when I learned that this will be turned into a movie. At least that’s what rumors say. And the project will be helmed by no less than Tim Burton. If it really does push through, that is one more movie than I would lineup to see.