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Thursday, February 07, 2019

A Map of Days by Ransom Riggs

A Map of Days by Ransom Riggs

Book Stats:  

Reading level: Young Adult
Genre: Supernatural, Time Travel Fantasy
Hardcover: 481 pages
Publisher: Dutton Books
Release date: October 2, 2018

Series: Miss Peregrine's Peculiar Children #4

Source: Purchased

Reviewed by: Kara

Order: Amazon | Book Depository

Having defeated the monstrous threat that nearly destroyed the peculiar world, Jacob Portman is back where his story began, in Florida. Except now Miss Peregrine, Emma, and their peculiar friends are with him, and doing their best to blend in. But carefree days of beach visits and normalling lessons are soon interrupted by a discovery—a subterranean bunker that belonged to Jacob’s grandfather, Abe.

Clues to Abe’s double-life as a peculiar operative start to emerge, secrets long hidden in plain sight. And Jacob begins to learn about the dangerous legacy he has inherited—truths that were part of him long before he walked into Miss Peregrine’s time loop.

Now, the stakes are higher than ever as Jacob and his friends are thrust into the untamed landscape of American peculiardom—a world with few ymbrynes, or rules—that none of them understand. New wonders, and dangers, await in this brilliant next chapter for Miss Peregrine’s peculiar children. Their story is again illustrated by haunting vintage photographs, now with the striking addition of full-color images interspersed throughout for this all-new, multi-era American adventure.


I'm not sure why, but I was super surprised when this book was announced. I guess I thought the series wouldn't be continuing after Library of Souls, but I've been waiting to read this book for months! Took me longer than I wanted but I finally did another readthrough of the first three before picking up this new novel. It's a new world finding peculiardom in America for Jacob and Miss Peregrine's peculiar children. For Jacob, this is a new set of conflicts and choices. Does he be normal? Does he be peculiar? It seems like his parents will not stand for both. At seventeen and after quite a period of absence for the events of the last couple books, Jacob has been back trying to force his life into his old-normal patterns, but his parents don't trust him and he cannot reconcile the knowledge of himself and his grandfather with his same-old.

Let's talk about his parents for a minute because Jacob has unusual parents for YA literature. 1) They're alive. 2) They don't have a relationship with their son. They do, and they make him do. The end.  3) They don't have relationships with their own parents, and in Grandpa Portman's case, there seems to be a great divide. 4) They believe everyone (except Grandpa) over their own son. This attitude gets worse, obviously, after Jacob's disappearance. It seems mind-boggling because he's 17 and they STILL never believe him. He's about to be an adult, and doesn't have a good track record for adult independence at 18. 5) Because of 4, they try to have him committed to a mental institution against his will. Usually this step is a last resort, and since he'll be 18 in a few months, this is the last time they can make this sort of step because after he's 18 and they try, the courts and law will get involved and things could get very ugly. 6) They are not described much in emotion, despite being well-drawn in facts. They're kind of bleh. Why does Jacob say he loves them because the reader hasn't been given anything to love about them, just pity or tolerate (see 3, 5). [Aside: Would you really having loving feelings toward your parents if they had you committed? I'm thinking no. Note to parents, probably don't be like Jacob's...]

This theme continues with the peculiar children under Miss Peregrine's care. How or why does Miss Peregrine not watch the children for signs of independence after all of their adventures? Every reader must have predicted this struggle. The children need to try out their adulting skills! Miss Peregrine is supposed to be good at taking care of children, and this is a key part of adolescent development (even if she's been watching over non-aging adolescents and children for years). She could be giving them space, but I think it's far more likely she's quite angry at their buck of parental supervision.

Those last couple chapters of the book came out of nowhere. It sort of made sense but...I found it less inventive and more horrifying since it takes us back to other terrible times to live in: the seedy grunge of American crime, though no mention of prohibition; corruption and white supremacy and racism of the South; gangs and gangsters and territorial fights. All of it makes you NEVER want to visit the American past. Instead we could've visited a loop from the Revolution or the Civil War. I am sad we missed out on these potentials. I wish there had been more descriptions with the American loops since we were back in the past. I had a hard time seeing the setting and just how different it was from our preconceived notions of the past.

Some random observations: My favorite part was the trip through Abe's house and his secrets. There was less of a connection to H to feel emotionally attached to him as Abe would. You'd think the "kids" would stop and get the hint to quit mentioning ymbrynes at whatever loops they visited! Noor! I really liked her even if her peculiarity was hard to grasp. It would be really hard to be in her situation. I liked Lily too. Moving on before any spoilers, this book had a few things I predicted (Emma/Jacob squabble -- relationships are never straightforward) and ended on a TOTAL CLIFFHANGER.

Mostly, there were a lot of questions I had at the end that don't get answered like:
FIONA?! WHERE IS FIONA? WHY are they not asking at every loop again? Because they're selfish and they forget?
Where's Nim? And the unnamed Bentham assistant? [Both of these are associated with the last book, Library of Souls.]
What about Horace's clue of Chinese food vs Contintental? This was not mentioned again.

These are a lot of questions and unknowns while waiting for yet another unknown: when will we get book 5? :'(

Kara is a teen librarian living in the southeastern US with her husband (who listens to books), young daughter (who sleeps with books), and dog (who tastes the books). She loves all sorts of books, but mostly YA, and will never catch up to all of the wonderful things to read.

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