This is something you are going to learn about me quick – if a movie is based off a book, I watch the movie first then read the book. This is actually how I find most books to read. This book was no different. I had watched the movie numerous times and really enjoyed it, so decided to give the book a try. I don’t think I can ever go back and watch the movie ever again.
The story is written from the perspective of Jacob Portman, who goes by Jake, as he learns of the existence of children with special abilities, or peculiarities, and what it means about himself. The book really is broken up into three sections of plot. The first third is Jake listening to his grandfather’s stories about the Peculiars as he grew. Like every child, he stops believing in his grandfather’s tales once he gets to a certain age, and he can never really understand why his grandfather is so adamant he knows about these children. As a child Jake believes them to be fairy tales and make believe, as a pre-teen and teenager he starts seeing his grandfather’s stories as lies. That is until the unthinkable happens and Jake witnesses his grandfather being murdered by creatures that no one else can see. Which propels the story into the second third of the book. The second act is Jake dealing with his grandfather’s death. Mainly it’s about Jake going to therapy and the different techniques they use to help him deal with the trauma of having his grandfather die in his arms. The third act in the plot starts when Jake and his father travel from their home in Florida to Wales for Jake to try and learn about the home and the children.
This is where the story really starts to pick up, and I can see why the movie chose to really start at this point. I remember texting Artemis while I was reading this book and commenting on how amazing the author was by spending so much of the book setting up everything to the point the reader doesn’t even realize it’s taken about half the book for the plot to get started. The story is invigorating and all the characters in the town and the home are totally unique. The reader feels for them when the horror starts to bleed from the imaginary into the modern world and effect this little town on a far-off island off the coast of Wales.
As Jake learns his family’s story and the truth about himself, he is faced with some incredibly hard-hitting choices that lead him on the adventure of a lifetime.
There are some major changes from the book to the movie, Emma’s and Olive’s characters and peculiarities are completely switched, I have no idea why the movie producers felt the need to do that. I was also impressed by something that would seem odd, there is some swearing in the book. Not a lot, but enough to remind the reader they are reading a story from a sixteen-year old’s point of view. I used to volunteer with teenagers that ranged from fourteen to eighteen, every single one of them swore. That’s what teenagers do. It makes everything seem more real to me. It makes it so that I can relate to these characters more since they seem more human.
All in all, I loved the book and now I understand the amount of praise this series has gotten. The characters and the story are unique yet relatable. Yes, there are some predictable parts to the story, but really they just make you relate and love the characters more. I plan to read the rest of the series, as I love reading book series over stand-alone books. Though the book has ruined the movie for me, I’m extremely glad it did.