Miss Peregrine Book to Movie Review


Maddy Bruce, Editorial Board

On Sept 30, the film adaptation of the New York Times Best Seller, “Miss Peregrine’s Home for Peculiar Children,” hit the theaters. In this issue, I will be reviewing the book and its movie adaptation, and comparing the two.

The story follows a 16 year old boy as he tries to uncover the mystery of his late grandfather’s last words. Jacob travels to Cairnholm, the island of his grandfather’s childhood home, to try to finally get some answers. There, he discovers a magical world with time that never changes, people who are strangely just like him, and a secret he’d never imagined he’d uncover.

Praise the literary gods, I finally found a young adult book that didn’t include a rebellious white girl who takes over the government and has to choose between two below-average white guys for her love interest. Although it isn’t the best I’ve ever read, the book version of this story is excellent. The characters aren’t bland crackers who are only interested in overthrowing the government and “saving the day.” If they were alive, they’d seem like real people, which is kind of hard to find in young adult books these days. The dialogue encompasses the personality and growth of each character perfectly and provides insight for the reader into what each character feels, despite the book being told from Jacob’s point of view. The plot is very entertaining and not predictable at all, something that often turns me off as a reader. Many of the situations Jacob encounters, although they have a peculiar twist to them, are easy for the reader to relate to. I mean, all teenagers can relate to his dad misunderstanding him, dealing with his uniqueness, and being an outsider, right?

There is also a great element of suspense throughout the entire book. This starts right off the bat with Jacob’s grandfather’s death, and continues through Jacob’s adventures in Wales, at the children’s’ home, and even the closing scene. I also liked that author, Ransom Riggs, included the photographs on which he bases his characters, which makes it easier for me to picture each character and their special ability, along with adding a level of eeriness. Overall, this book was original, well-written, and did not include the typical rebellious, love-infested characters that are so common in young adult literature today.

Because I read the book first, the movie was obviously disappointing. Although it was under the direction of Tim Burton, which sort of gave it the necessary eerie feeling (even though it definitely wasn’t his best), the movie itself was mediocre at best. The characters, including Jacob, were relatively flat, which may be due to the less than satisfactory acting (I’m looking at you, Asa Butterfield).

Remember those awfully annoying love stories in young adult books that I mentioned earlier? Well, the writers decided, for some unknown reason, to put one in the movie. This one was between Jacob and Emma. Along with being completely unnecessary, it was really awkward and had no significance to the plot whatsoever. Also, the writers of the movie decided to switch Emma’s powers with another character, Olive. Along with being completely unnecessary, this also made it momentarily confusing to tell which character was which.

As far as plot, the movie generally kept the same plot as the book, but there were some major flaws. For one, the book was partially set in 1940, but the writers of the movie felt it was necessary to change that to 1943 in the movie, which is just plain ridiculous. Also, the events in the book happen over a span of about three or four days, but the events in the movie happened in a span of only one day, forcing small, but important details, out of the plot and making the plot annoyingly fast-paced. Perhaps the most glaring plot difference, though, is the ending. The ending of the movie is completely different from that of the book, which is basically the equivalent of a sin in the world of book-to-movie adaptations.

The majority of the flaws that were evident to me were the differences between the book and the movie, but that isn’t everything that made the movie less than decent. It was clear that there were a lot of special effects being used in the movie, which is obvious, because it’s a fantasy movie. But, the imaginary creatures and the children’s powers could’ve been less 1950s-ish. Also, the casting team could’ve done a better job at casting actors who were actually the correct age, and the transitions from scene could’ve been a lot less choppy. Overall, the movie was an inaccurate, annoying, poorly-made adaptation of the book.