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Miss Peregrine's Home for Peculiar Children (Miss Peregrine, #1)I so much wanted to love Miss Peregrine's Home for Peculiar Children, with its odd photographs and mysterious grandfather and menacing hollow creatures and, well, peculiar children, but I couldn't, not quite. I enjoyed it, but I didn't love it. The use of photographs was clever, the idea of living inside a time loop intriguing if a bit fuzzy in its logic, but I had two biggish problems with the book as a whole.

The first is a lack of good pacing/tightness. Ideally a book hooks you immediately, the tension gradually ratchets up as you go on, until you have a nice big finale. In this case, most of the gripping stuff came at the beginning; although the rest has some good bits it struck me as somewhat meandering and unfocused. The second was that the main character, rather than maturing through the course of the book, seems instead to become more childish (perhaps it's a side effect of hanging out with beings that have been children for 80+ years?). I can't recall when/if his age is given, but based on how he's presented at the beginning I would have guessed him to be 17 or 18; by the end he comes across more like a 13 or 14-year-old.

Then there's the fact that it's obviously a setup for a sequel, which I didn't know ahead of time and which was therefore irritating. (Does no one write good standalone novels any more??) So all in all, I give it a resounding "Meh."

Year's Best SF 16Lives up to the title, "Year's Best." The best collection of short-form SF I've read in quite a while. All the stories are top-notch, with a wide mix of voices, settings, topics, length, styles and approaches. There are tales of post-apocalypse, space adventure and genetic modification; there are children and old men and guitar-playing dinosaurs and even a sort of steam-punk female Napoleon.

The only disappointment was the last one, a modern riff on the Benandanti -- I'm a fan of updated/retold folklore and fairy tales and I don't mind unreliable narrators or meta-fiction so I was intrigued at first, but in the end this comes across as too self-conscious an exercise in cleverness by both the narrator and the author.

Now, what to read next?? I can't decide if I want to re-read The Stand (about which Mr Psmith and I had a rousing debate last night, regarding the absence of a religious element among the bad guys) or tackle 11/22/63. I also have to finish Swansea Girl. Lots to do!

(N.B. The fact that I am STILL getting ZERO notifications from LJ, and my ISP apparently can't be bothered to look into it or even respond, is SERIOUSLY vexing me...)

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