Miss Peregrine’s Home For Peculiar Children by Ransom Riggs

Miss Peregrine’s Home For Peculiar Children by Ransom Riggs

Miss Peregrine’s Home For Peculiar Children introduces the world of peculiars, a secret group of individuals born with strange abilities and attributes that set them apart from the rest of humanity. Hunted by bloodthirsty creatures called hollowgast, peculiars are protected by women known as ymbrynes who can transform into birds and manipulate time. Ymbrynes– like the titular Miss Peregrine– watch over their wards inside loops, portals of safety where the same day is repeated over and over again. For hundreds of years, peculiars have lived inside these loops, never aging and sheltered from the threats of the outside world. But sinister forces threaten to destroy the world of peculiardom, and its inhabitants have no idea what’s to come…

Jacob Portman, the narrator of the story, grew up listening to his grandfather’s tales of the children’s home on a tiny island off the coast of Wales where magical children lived in paradise, watched over by their benevolent headmistress. As a child, he would hang onto his grandfather’s every word, relishing the tales of his grandfather’s brave adventures and extraordinary friends. But as Jacob grew older and his grandfather began to sink into dementia’s grip, he stopped believing the man’s fantastical tales– until a traumatizing night leads him to travel to that tiny island and see for himself– and suddenly, the stories don’t seem so implausible.

As Jacob is thrust into the mind-bending world of the peculiars, he discovers more about his grandfather and himself than he ever thought possible. With an intriguing narrative style and hauntingly fascinating vintage photography, Ransom Riggs takes the reader along for Jacob’s incredible ride, creating a vivid new world that’s unlike anything I’ve read before. Truly unique, this book (and the rest in its series) is hard to put down and is a must-read for anyone looking for a new YA fantastical adventure that’s different from the norm. There’s action, romance, mystery, and even some humor mixed in with an awesome cast of characters that will win you over from the start.

The narrative voice, in the first-person view of Jacob, is descriptive and articulate without forsaking the heart of his character. The author’s style is expressive and vivid, assisted by the distinctive addition of the vintage photographs interspersed throughout the book. The pictures are what truly make this series unique, and add a touch of stirring realism to the plotline. The book’s plot was written partially around the photographs that the author had found and included, and the rest of the photos were chosen because they fit what the author had in mind. I love this addition to the books, and they’re a big part of what makes the series unforgettable.

The world of peculiardom is a fascinating and multi-faceted one, and the farther you read into the series, the more wide and diverse it grows. Miss Peregrine’s Home For Peculiar Children introduces the world well, but with each new book in the series, Ransom Riggs finds a new way to expand its borders. Its inhabitants are equally as diverse and fascinating as the world they live in, and I fell in love with all of them almost immediately. It’s interesting to read how their peculiarities can align with their personalities– for example; Emma, one of the main protagonists, sparks flames from her hands and is the fiery, determined leader of the group. Bronwyn, a girl with extraordinary strength, is the mother hen of the children and a natural protector. Each of Miss Peregrine’s peculiar wards has a distinctive personality, as does every new character they meet during their journeys. The variety of peculiar abilities and attributes of these characters is astounding as well.

One thing I love about this book and its series is the nature of the peculiarities. Rather than give his characters differing versions of “superpowers”, the author has created a group of people (and occasionally, animals) who simply possess attributes and abilities that place them (far) outside the realm of normal. Some of the peculiars can do things that seem familiar to us in the realm of science fiction, like Bronwyn’s strength or Emma’s fire. But more often, peculiars are born with other traits– like the mouth in the back of Claire’s head, the way Olive is simply lighter than air, or the bees that live inside of Hugh– that you won’t find between the pages of comic book. Their peculiarness is delightfully strange in a way that enhances the dark and supernatural feel of the story, which sets it apart from your average science fiction novel about kids with superpowers.

Miss Peregrine’s Home For Peculiar Children is a darkly fascinating book that sets off an intriguing and endlessly riveting series. You won’t be able to get enough of this book and its peculiar world once you’ve fallen under its captivating spell, and I would highly recommend it to anyone looking for a series with a distinctive and enthralling concept.

The Maze Runner Summary

Cover of the Maze Runner features very tall green hedges alongside a building with two protruding spikes
The Maze Runner

In the dark of an elevator, a teenaged boy awakes with no memories other than that his name is Thomas. When the elevator comes to a halt, the doors open and Thomas finds himself surrounded by around fifty teenaged boys. Their leader, a boy in his late-teens named Alby, welcomes him to the Glade. Surrounded by extremely high stone walls covered in thick ivy, the Glade is a large square piece of land with a few wood and concrete buildings. In each of the surrounding four walls, there is a narrow opening.

Over the course of the next few days, Thomas learns that behind the walls is the Maze – a labyrinthine structure full of Grievers. Grievers are violent mechanical creatures that only come out at night. Since the openings to the Maze, what the Gladers call Doors, close at night, the Grievers cannot get into the Glade. During the day, a few of the boys, the Runners, navigate the Maze in order to find an exit. On the same day every month, the elevator brings a new male arrival. But on the day after Thomas arrives, the elevator returns with a teenaged girl in a coma.

The next day Alby and Minho, a Runner, go into the Maze to investigate a report about a dead Griever. A few minutes before the Doors close, Thomas sees Minho dragging an unconscious Alby towards the Door. With no one else around to help, Thomas enters the Maze right as the Doors close behind him. Inside, Minho tells him that a Griever stung Alby. Thomas and Minho lure a group of Grievers away from Alby and towards the Cliff– a place in the Maze where the path ends and overlooks an empty expanse. As the Grievers charge at them, the boys dive out of the way, causing the Grievers to disappear off the Cliff.

It’s morning and the Doors are open by the time they are able to return to Alby’s location. Newt, Alby’s second-in-command, cures Alby by giving him the Grief Serum, which causes him to go through the Changing, Newt tells Thomas that the Changing is a painful side effect of the Serum that makes people recall some of their memories.

In the following days, the girl, whose name is Teresa, wakes up and tells Thomas that the Maze is code. The sun also suddenly disappears, which causes the Doors to remain open at night. On the first night the doors stay open, the Grievers come into the Glade and carry off a boy named Gally into the Maze. The Gladers hope that the Grievers will only take one boy per night.

The following day, Thomas uses the maps that the Runners made of the Maze to figure out that the Maze’s shifting walls have been spelling out the phrase, “Float. Catch. Bleed. Death. Stiff. Push.” To understand the code’s meaning, Thomas purposefully gets stung by the Grievers so that he can go through the Changing and recover some of his memories. After the Changing, Thomas remembers that to escape the Maze, they must put the code into a computer that is inside an invisible portal. To get to the portal, they must jump off the Cliff.

After convincing them to follow his plan, Thomas helps lead an armed band of Gladers into the Maze. At the Cliff, a group of Grievers are waiting for them. Thinking that they will only kill one person a night, Alby sacrifices himself to the Grievers. But his sacrifice fails and the Gladers must attack the Grievers as Thomas and Teresa make their way into the portal. Inside, Teresa plugs in the code, which shuts down all the Grievers.

The surviving Gladers meet Thomas and Teresa in the portal. They find a slide that brings them to a giant facility where they meet the creators of the Maze. A woman with the word WICKED stitched into her lab coat and a man in a hood approach the Gladers. The woman congratulates them but says there is still one more test. The man takes off his hood, revealing himself as Gally. Seeming to be mind-controlled, Gally throws a knife at Thomas, but a fellow Glader, Chuck, jumps in front of the knife. As Thomas cradles Chuck’s lifeless body, a group of men and women come into the facility and shoot the woman. The Gladers follow them onto a bus and they all drive into the night.

On the bus, the unnamed leader of this group tells the Gladers that in the world outside the Maze, there has been a devastating ecological disaster that has caused a widespread outbreak of disease. WICKED hoped to raise children in the harsh environment of the Maze so that they would be better prepared to face the challenges of the real world. The leader says WICKED’s actions are inhumane and that her group fights to save children from their experiments. They bring the Gladers to a safe-house and give them a place to eat and sleep in peace.

The novel ends with an email by the Chancellor of the Maze Trials, Ava Paige. She writes that the “rescue” was a good finale and that after the group gets a good night’s sleep, phase two of the experiment will begin.

It is a really good book and I would recommend checking it out. The Maze Runner Trilogy is also made into movies so you should check those out too. Stay tuned for my reviews of the next 2 books and maybe even the 2 prequels.

Gathering Blue by Lois Lowry

The cover of Gathering Blue features a young girl looking at a bouquet of white and blue flowers
Gathering Blue

Have any of you ever read The Giver? Well boy have I got some news for you! Lois Lowry actually made a series for the Giver! Yup, I found out from my teacher so now, I am attempting to finish this series.

            So, it starts off with a completely new character, never met her before, her name is Kira. Gathering Blue starts with her sitting in a field to watch her mother’s spirit leave her body. Her mother has just died of sickness, now leaving Kira an orphan (her father was attacked by beasts before Kira was born or so you think, read The Messenger to find out what happens there). She also has a leg that is crippled so she can’t work or really do anything to help the village. After having a fight, she is given a job. It doesn’t take much movement and it is very important. She has to mend the Singer’s robe. Every year, the Singer sings about the history of the village. They are the most important person. He wears a robe and also has a staff. Kira has to mend the Robe as it wears down every year.

            First, she has to learn about dying the yarn for the different string. She meets an old woman who teaches her about dying (and dies before she finishes). Anyways, Kira learns, and she fixes the Robe. Along the way, she meets Thomas who fixes the Staff. She also meets Jo, but you can learn more about her in the book.

            Her friend Matty, a scruffy boy who lives in a dirtier part of town, adventures with her sometimes. He becomes essential in the third book (The Messenger) but for now, he is just her friend. The title of this book becomes apparent at almost the end of the book when Matty, who has been gone for a while, comes back. He found a flower who will give Kira blue dye, something she hasn’t been able to create. While exploring, Matty found a village of people. This village is full of people who need help or are injured. They help each other carry out tasks for people who can’t. Matty wants Kira to come with him to this village where they could help her do more things even with her leg. Read the entire book to find out what happens!

            I really liked this book and have to give credit to my teacher for telling me that Lois Lowry continued Jonas’s adventure. Now, you may be wondering, where is Jonas? He doesn’t really appear in this book but is more prominent in The Messenger. This book is well written and is unique compared to what I usually read. I would definitely recommend reading this book and the rest of the series too!

                        I would give this book an 8.5/10

Maximum Ride series – a review

Cover of Maximum Ride: The Angel Experiment

Maximum Ride by James Patterson

The Maximum Ride series has a total of nine books: Angel Experiment, School’s Out – Forever, Saving the World and Other Extreme Sports, The Final Warning, Max, Fang, Angel, Nevermore, and Forever.

Overview: Maximum (Max) Ride is a fourteen-year-old mutant bird kid. You read that right, mutant bird kid. She and her friends grew up in a lab called the School, where they were genetically modified to have bird powers – including the wings. After escaping the school with the help of a man named Jeb, the were in hiding until Jeb – you know, I better not say that. Anyway, the “flock” is suddenly on their own again, fighting evil wolf-like creatures from the School called Erasers. They travel around the country, in search for a home, their parents, and anywhere the Erasers and the School can’t find them. Max soon hears a voice in her head, guiding her and telling her what to do, and it soon tells her she needs to save the world. Can she save it from whatever may be threatening it? Read the series to find out!

Characters: Maximum (Max) Ride, Fang, Iggy, Nudge, Gasman, and Angel (I’ll let Max tell you about these guys – she knows them best) Other characters – such as Jeb – don’t last very long, and they will be described in the books as well.

Rating, Review, and Recommendation: I got into this series through a coloring book. Yes, that’s right – a coloring book. My mom had gotten me a Max Ride coloring book for my birthday, simply because “It had James Patterson on it and the people look like fairies”. As I looked through it, I realized it looked pretty cool. And then I remembered my school’s library had that same series. So, I checked out the first book – Angel Experiment – and instantly fell in love with it. I finished it in two days, and then the second, third, and fourth books I read in a day for each. The fifth, sixth, and seventh I read all in one night. The last two took a day for each as well. I’ll admit it – I was (am) obsessed with the Maximum Ride series. I hung onto every word, and couldn’t put the book down. When I told myself I’d stop at this chapter, I read like five more chapters and before I knew it I was done the book without even looking up. Of course, if you don’t read as fast as I do, that’s totally fine, it gives you more time to savor the series. I’ve always been a huge fan of James Patterson books, and Maximum Ride is no exception – it also paved way for me to discover even more of his books (the Witch and Wizard and Confessions series, for example) and even though there’s lots of series and books I love, Maximum Ride comes out on top (with the Lemencello series by Chris Grabenstein coming in very close second). Okay, now I’m just ranting. I would totally recommend this series to anyone reading young adult novels (specifically teenage girls, but anyone is welcome to read them). They’re filled with humor, action, adventure, and, yes, even a little romance. For the rating, I really can’t rate it, because any high rating I give it, there would always be a higher rating. So, for the rating, I’ll give you this: I rate the Maximum Ride series the highest rating you can think of.

I didn’t give a very long overview because I don’t want to spoil ANYTHING. I want you, if you choose to read the series,  to experience it all for yourself. So what are you waiting for?! Go get Angel Experiment, unfurl your wings, and take off on an unforgettable journey!

 

Rim of the World

Alex (Jack Gore), ZhinZhin (Miya Cech), Dariush (Benjamin Flores Jr.), and Gabriel (Alessio Scalzotto) barely started summer camp when aliens start to attack Earth and cause havoc.

Things get even more weird when an astronaut gives them a key and tells them to go to JPL, a NASA facility, to get rid of the horrendous aliens. Dodging aliens, military units, prisoners, and other dangerous things, the kids trek 48 miles to get to JPL.

Along the way, great friendships are started and maybe a little awkward romance. Like, really awkward. So they begin the journey together, hoping to save the world.

This movie was not the best, but it definitely wasn’t that bad. The cast was really good and the action and adventure wasn’t all that bad. The movie was a little too straight forward for me, but if you’re looking for a bloody, friendship, action and adventure movie, then this one is a good idea.

I give this movie a 8.2/10 partially because I could kind of guess what would happen next but there were some parts where I was scared. Or maybe it’s because I scare often. There are cute friendship moments and bravery so it wasn’t bad. The movie overall was great, and all the cast members did a good job becoming their character.

I will warn you, this movie does have mild language in it, and parts of the movie are creepy, but if that doesn’t bother you, definitely watch this movie! Hope you like it!

Illuminae, by Amie Kaufman and Jay Kristoff

See the source image

Illuminae, written by Jay Kristoff and Amie Kaufman, is a science fiction book following detailed reports gathered from the tragic events into what they call the illuminae files. There are two main characters, Kady Grant and Ezra Mason, who are stuck on two separate ships in space.

This book doesn’t follow the usual narrative seen in other science fiction and fantasy books. Each page is a copy of a diary entry, artwork, interview, security footage report, or other classified documents. They are organized in order of the events and use a lot of documents from Kady and Ezra, as they had pivotal roles in the outcome of the story.

At first, I almost put the book down, never to pick it up again. The book started out unbelievably boring. Once you get around 100 pages in, you finally began to care a bit about the characters and their journeys. I believe this is due to the unorthodox format the book is written in. It’s more of a plot-driven book than a character one, but I do believe you begin to care about the characters, particularly Kady, towards the end.
During the action scenes, the graphics were visually stunning. It blew me away and made me wish more books involved beautiful and thoughtful art inside them. It was the best way to convey action with minimal words and arguably hit me harder than a narrative format does.

The romance in the book wasn’t my favorite. It felt boring and didn’t add anything to the plot other than a connection between the two ships. I also didn’t enjoy the text messages between the characters, because they took me out of the story and made the characters seem childish. Despite this, there were some moments that made me giggle. Ezra was a rather funny character and it helped keep me interested in the story, which was already so tense.

There was an AI character that is reminiscent of Ultron from Avengers: Age of Ultron, which was a cool comparison. It also brought about questions about artificial intelligence and its dangers, which is a prevalent topic heading into the future.

The end of the book upset me because something is revealed that I felt would have been better placed in another book. I can’t go into detail without spoiling it, but the book did something that really annoys me in other creative storytelling forms.

There are two other books in the series, and I know the second one follows some new characters in the same document format. Although I loved the artistic parts of the book, I won’t be continuing with the series.

Overall, I would rate Illuminae 5/10 dragons for its artistic layout and an intriguing plot. I would recommend reading if you appreciate plot-driven books and cringe romance.

MIB: International- A Review

Let’s face it, everyone loved the original Men In Black. Funny, smart, and very, very weird, plus it had Will Smith (and who doesn’t love Will Smith?).  I was worried that the sequel, or even the premise of the movie, wouldn’t hold up, considering the 22 year break since the original. But honestly, this movie delivered! It had many Easter eggs and parallels to the original, but it serves as a witty, modern, and capable of standing-alone take on the men (and women) with the shades.

Plot: Admittedly, the plot is not the most creative thing ever. But still, with aliens in the mix, and the fun twist they bring to every scene, help the movie to stay enjoyable! To its credit, the plot of this movie was in stark contrast to the original, helping it to stand out as its own film (which is a plus in my book!).  In my opinion, a movie doesn’t necessarily need to be new and groundbreaking to be good- it just needs to keep me entertained, and this movie DEFINITELY did that! There were a few loose ends and weak points that irked me, but otherwise the movie was pretty good. (8/10)

Characters: I really liked the characters of this movie! Agent M was so much fun to follow. She’s smart, practical, funny, and feels very real. Agent H was great to get to know, and Agent C, despite introduced as a, um, rival? antagonist? annoying coworker? somehow became my favorite. The aliens were a ton of fun, as I’ve mentioned before. The people in this movie were weird and that’s what I loved about it. (8/10)

Acting: When you have Chris Hemsworth and Tessa Thompson, who already have credits together because of Thor: Ragnarok, together to film another wacky space comedy, everything goes right. I loved every actor in this movie! Even minor characters sold their roles well! No complaints here. (9/10)

Set Design: I don’t typically mention set design, but I couldn’t leave it out this time! Each set is hyper detailed and beautiful, appropriate thematically and for whatever time and place the characters are in. A majority of the stuff in the background is never given focus, but still shines due to the clear love and thought out into it. I couldn’t keep my eyes off of the fun and varied sets! (10/10)

In conclusion, the mix of amazing action scenes, cool characters, and awesome aliens makes for a very entertaining movie. MIB: International serves as both a solid standalone film and a super sequel. This movie takes what was good about the original and expands upon it really well. I recommend going to see it. (8/10)