Book 1: Miss Peregrine's Home for Peculiar Children, by Ransom Riggs
A mysterious island. An abandoned orphanage. A strange collection of very curious photographs.
Miss Peregrine's Home for Peculiar Children is the first book in a fast-paced YA saga about teens with special abilities. I think the best praise I can give to this book is that a) it kept me awake during Dewey's Readathon, and b) I really want to read the second book, Hollow City.
My only quibble with this novel is that it relies way too much on visual cues. As every review out there points out, Miss Peregrine's includes a collection of weird, vintagey photos with a very eerie feeling about them. These photos, along with the cover, can give the wrong idea about this book, since it owes more to superhero comics than to gothic horror tales. On top of that, the writing style can be too juvenile at times. When the storytelling fails, the images are not a good substitute, and they can be gimmicky. However, I did enjoy the whole affair.
On the other hand, I really liked how a simple zero-to-hero story can be so interesting with the right mythology, and the parallelisms between Nazis and Hollows versus Jews and Peculiar Children are fantastic. It is a good exploration of identity, of what it means to be true to one's nature.
Book 2: The Secret Garden, by Frances Hodgson Burnett
When orphaned Mary Lennox comes to live at her uncle's great house on the Yorkshire Moors, she finds it full of secrets. The mansion has nearly one hundred rooms, and her uncle keeps himself locked up. And at night, she hears the sound of crying down one of the long corridors.
The story itself is a bit naïve - a couple of neglected children who are rude little creatures become adorable, healthy, well-mannered kids thanks to willingness and the power of nature, and a depressed man comes back to life, as if it were. On the other hand, it has some of the best characters that ever were, the kind who feel like friends. Who didn't love Dickon and his sage mother, Martha Sowerby? Or dear old Ben Weatherstaff? It is beautifully written and very entertaining, as any tale should be. The story fills you with magic and awe, and the descriptions of the secret garden and the beautiful flowers are darling. I remember wanting a garden myself when I read it for the first time, although my thumb is more brownish than green. At the end, I was holding my breath once more despite knowing how it ends. I really enjoyed re-reading The Secret Garden.
Book 3: The Graveyard Book, by Neil Gaiman
After the grisly murder of his entire family, a toddler wanders into a graveyard where the ghosts and other supernatural residents agree to raise him as one of their own.
It's not a secret that I'm a fan of Neil Gaiman, and I've enjoyed everything I've read by him, including The Graveyard Book. I think I've even enjoyed it more this second time around. The story of the little boy who lives in a graveyard and whose name is Nobody is endearing and sad at the same time. It can be read as a collection of adventures full of awesome mythology, but it also can be read as a coming-of-age novel and the bittersweet experiences that it entails. It is geared toward a young audience, but it never feels patronizing. The vocabulary is complex, but understandable, and the book has something to offer to mature readers, too. Once more, I didn't want to leave the world that Mr. Gaiman had created, and was sad to turn the last page.
Have you read these books? Please, leave a link to your review in the comments and I will link you here!