It had become one of the defining truths of my life that, no matter how I tried to keep them flattened, two-dimensional, jailed in paper and ink, there would always be stories that refused to stay bound inside books. It was never just a story.
- Title: Library of Souls
- Series: Miss Peregrine’s Home for Peculiar Children
- Author: Ransom Riggs
- Published: September 22, 2015 by Quirk Books
- goodreads Rating: 4.15
- My Rating: 3.75
My reading this book has been a long time coming. I had read Hollow City, the second book in the series, about two years ago but never got around to finishing the trilogy for who knows why. Regardless, I finally did it, and I have to be honest; I’m not that impressed. It just wasn’t quite…right.
My biggest issue with the final installment was that Riggs chose to abandon all the other peculiar children and make the book a Jacob/Emma power couple adventure, which is not a bad thing per se, but disappointing overall since I came to enjoy and anticipate the diversity of characters, powers, and personalities that made up the series’ peculiar cast. With just the two teenagers as the focal point of the novel, I felt myself comparing Jacob and Emma to another dynamic duo from a fictional series about superpowered kids: Percy and Annabeth from the Percy Jackson and the Olympians series. I tried to remember that the peculiar children are unique characters with a totally different story than that of Rick Riordan’s demigods, but it’s difficult not to compare considering all the factors that affected my reading experience of Library of Souls.
Firstly, I’ve always compared the Miss Peregrine series to the Percy Jackson series simply because they are both children’s/YA books about magical children fighting monsters and have fairly sarcastic, “extra-special-even-for-peculiar/demigod-standards” male protagonists/narrators. Secondly, the time span between me reading Hollow City, the second book, and this last one was long, so I had forgotten a lot of the Peculiar series’ characterizations and plot points. Thirdly, I remember the Percy Jackson characters much more distinctly. Ultimately, I couldn’t help comparing Jacob and Emma to Percy and Annabeth. Unfortunately for Riggs, his characters just don’t hold up to Riordan’s, especially in this last installment in which Emma sometimes became unbearably obnoxious and impractical while Jacob was just boring.
It’s not quite fair to allow my preference and nostalgia for another series to affect my judgment of Library of Souls but the nature of engaging with art means inherently bringing all your experiences, knowledge, opinions, and insights with you to the table. You cannot consume and process literature without referring to prior knowledge and making connections/comparisons to other works. So, unfortunately for Library of Souls (and all of the Miss Peregrine series), I could not help but compare it to Percy Jackson, the series I believed with which it had the most in common. And because Riordan’s Greek mythology novels hold such a dear place in my heart, I was already biased against Riggs. Moreover, I had just completed The Sympathizer—a completely different work of literature on many accounts, but one I absolutely loved—so it was difficult to make the switch from such an intense, high-concept, historical novel to a young adult story about magical children and scary monsters that steal souls.
Nevertheless, it was a fun read with lots of adventure and thrills. Though the pace slowed down for unnecessary internal monologues too many times, the plot was still interesting enough to hold my attention on my commutes to and from the office. I recommend it to anyone who wishes to finish the series—especially since the previous book ended on a cliffhanger—but for anyone wanting more character development, you may not enjoy Library of Souls. No one gets any “screen time” except for Jake and Emma, and even they fail to really grow up, despite (SPOILER ALERT!!) the peculiars finally being able to leave their loops and grow old in the normal world.
- “Doubt is the pinprick in the life raft.”
- “These strange-looking people weren’t peculiars. They were nerds. We were very much in the present.”
- “What a beautiful day to go to hell.”
- “A song and a smile from someone I cared about could be enough to distract me from all that darkness, if only for a little while.”
- “Maybe lots of people go through life never knowing they’re peculiar.”
- “The trouble with the merely unwise/deeply stupid line is that you often don’t know which side you’re on until it’s too late.”
- “Just because I’m a capitalist doesn’t mean I’m a black-hearted bastard.”
Now all I have left to do is watch the Miss Peregrine’s Home for Peculiar Children movie by Tim Burton. I’m wary though since they changed Emma and Olive’s powers, and I don’t know how that could have ever been a good idea. Emma’s fire abilities are such an integral part of her character, and I just can’t believe such a major change was made for the film. Oh well, at least Asa Butterfield’s playing Jake.