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BOOK VERSUS FILM: Miss Peregrine’s Home For Peculiar Children

    I loved Miss Peregrine’s Home for Peculiar Children when we took the kids to see it; so much so that I rushed out to buy the book to enjoy the original story. There were, of course, many changes made during the adaptation to film but, I hear you cry, which is best? Book or Film? Film or Book? There’s only one way to find out….

    Let’s start with …

    The Plot

    Teenage Jacob has grown up listening to his Grandfather Abe’s stories of his life, filling Jacob’s mind with tales of the mysterious Miss Peregrine and the Peculiar Children who live under her protection. When Abe dies in a mysterious fashion, Jacob searches for the truth about Miss Peregrine and discovers the stories were true.

    Spending time with Miss Peregrine and the Peculiar Children, Jacob learns of his own peculiarity and this leads him into a fight with the dangerous, Peculiar-hunting Hollows and Wights as he seeks to protect himself and the children.

    Remember, HERE BE SPOILERS! Let’s go …

    Jacob’s old friends

    Early in the story, Jacob receives a worrying call from Abe that suggests he might be in trouble, so Jacob dashes across town to help.

    In the film Jacob is driven to his grandfather’s house by Shelley, a co-worker. Together they scare off the Hollow waiting to feast on Abe when Shelley shoots at it. However, Shelley is a throwaway character we don’t see again in the film, and don’t need to; she simply facilitates getting Jacob to Abe.

    In the book it is his friend Ricky who drives Jacob and fulfils a similar role to Shelley. However, there is a minor subplot within which Jacob and Ricky fall out over Jacob’s “psychological” stability. There is a brief acknowledgement of a ‘show-friendship’ in front of Jacob’s parents to maintain the illusion that Jacob is normal, and keep them off his back, but this is not developed any further and doesn’t really need to be; it doesn’t serve the story in any major way, other than to highlight Jacob’s isolation and lack of friends.

    Even with a generous running time, the film needed to get Jacob into his quest as soon as possible to keep the audience interested. Developing his relationship with Ricky would have eaten into that valuable time and slowed things down. Instead, Jacob’s isolation from his peers is highlighted as the film opens with a brief introduction to the “cool crew” from school who happily humiliate Jacob at work.

    Here the Film wins out: Book 0 – Film 1.

    Jacob’s new friends – Emma/Olive

    Jacob closest relationship in both book and film is with Emma, a Peculiar Child who was close to his grandfather. The children all have a peculiarity such as super strength or invisibility and are mostly mirrored from book to film. However:

    In the film Emma is lighter than air and can control it. Olive, another Peculiar, has the ability to start fires.

    In the book Emma’s is the Firestarter and Olive is lighter than air.

    This is a fairly significant change and I wonder whether it is due, in part, to relationship that develops between Jacob and Emma? It is, perhaps, more palatable to deal with a relationship between two people where there is no risk of one burning the other to a crisp but also, perhaps, the idea of the girl who is lighter than air is, perhaps, considered more sympathetic (angelic?) than a Firestarter?

    However, each version of Emma is emotionally linked to Abe and this is further reflected in the growing relationship with Jacob; both help Jacob come to terms with who he is and who Abe was, catalysing his role in the story.

    Here the Book and Film are on even ground: Book 1 – Film 2.

    Jacob and his parents

    Jacob’s relationship with his parents is strained and distant. The focus is on his relationship with his father and the conflict created by Jacob’s closeness with Abe, something his father never experienced. Jacob’s dad travels with him on his search for Miss Peregrine, but keeps out of Jacob’s way, researching a book on birds, surfacing once in a while to admonish Jacob for his ‘peculiar’ behaviour. However, it is the way this relationship is played out in the final part of the film/book, when Jacob realises he belongs with the Peculiars, that is most interesting.

    In the Film, after returning to his ‘normal’ life, Jacob journeys around the world, searching for the “time loops” that will take him back to the Peculiars among who he now belongs. He sees Abe (now alive in a reset timeline – far too complicated to discuss now) and, as the film ends, he is seen with Emma embracing his new life as a Peculiar. There is very little mention of his family and he pretty much just disappears without a word.

    In the book Jacob introduces his dad to his peculiar friends to prove that Abe’s stories were true. While Jacob still leaves his father behind to be with his new family, he provides his father some closure on his paternal relationship with Abe. It is subtle, just a couple of pages in the book, but a nice touch that shows us Jacob cares and wouldn’t just abandon his family without a word.

    Here, the Book wins out: Book 2 – Film 2.

    The Ending

    The ending is where the most significant differences can be found. They both deal with rescuing Miss Peregrine and dealing with the ‘Big Bad’, Golan/Barron who has kidnapped Miss Peregrine (and other Ymbrynes – protectors of peculiar children) in an attempt to recreate, more successfully, the experiments that left him and his kind mutated in their quest for immortality

    In the film the children chase Barron using a wrecked ship that Emma brings to the surface using her ability to control air. They follow him to a time-loop in modern day Blackpool and a mighty battle begins between the children, an army of skeletons created by another Peculiar, the Wights and Hollows on the pier.

    Barron confuses the Peculiars by disguising himself as Jacob. However, Jacobs’s peculiarity allows him to see the Hollow hiding with Barron, proving who he is to Emma and, in the confusion, Barron is killed by the Hollow and the children escape.

    In the book the ending involves submarines, an injured invisible boy and the storming of a lighthouse, led by strong-girl Bronwyn. Emma does not raise the ship in the book but she does contribute to Golan’s death; Jacob shoots him, but Emma uses her peculiarity to grab his face and burn him.

    Essentially, in the film, Barron dooms himself; driven by greed and arrogance he is destroyed by his own kind. In the book, Emma and Jacob conspire to attack Golan, a more proactive approach that, while perhaps less exciting than the fight on Blackpool Pier, is certainly darker and more graphic.

    I would guess these changes were made to make the climax more exciting visually, but I also suspect that some of the darker aspects were probably taken out to ensure a 12 certificate for an already dark “kids” film; a young girl burning a grown man alive, is pretty gruesome and morally ambiguous when compared to the film.

    This is difficult to call. I love both endings. While the film is more exciting, visually, the book forces the reader to think morally about the children’s decisions and is, perhaps, more ‘realistic’ for it.

    I’m calling another draw: Book 3 – Film 3.

    The Result

    So, it’s a draw.

    Which may be a bit of a cop out, but I don’t think either is better than the other in my mind. I am sure there are plenty of people who would disagree with this. Books and their adapted Films will always be different, but they are different formats, different mediums and the “rules” within those mediums affect what you can and can’t do. For me, the Book and Film of Miss Peregrine both did the absolute best they could within the confines of the medium they chose. The themes and messages are the same throughout (isolation, difference, family) and I finished both in similar states of contemplation, so they both do a great job of telling Jacob’s story.

    The differences did not stop me enjoying either interpretation as each has its advantages and disadvantages and both transported me to another world within which I had the chance to explore and enjoy certain themes and emotions.

    So, basically, what are you still doing here? Go and buy the DVD and read the book and see what you think?

    [NB – I guess if you put a gun to my head, the Film may just pip the book, but that’s just me, I love films! Mind you, I love books as well, so yeah, stuff it, it’s a draw!].

    BIO: Mark Walker is an NHS Manager by day but a writer and astronomer by night. He is a life-long filmfan which is where his main interest in writing stems from, although he has been branching out more recently trying his hand at short story writing for the CREATE50 Initiative. He lives in Gloucestershire with his wife, two daughters, two guinea pigs and Bob the Hamster. You can see some of his musing on writing and starry pictures over on his website and follow him on Twitter as @MarkWalker_UK.

    6 thoughts on “BOOK VERSUS FILM: Miss Peregrine’s Home For Peculiar Children”

    1. Personally I think the film is rubbish compared to the books, the books are so better written and are more realistic e.g. what really annoys me is that at the end of the film it is a bit weird how Jacob travels all the way back through dozens of loops to get to Blackpool, now he has really experienced everything by travelling all over the world and in loads of loops. Now the movie version is going to be a bit awkward because Jacob won’t be seeing anything new, Jacob already knows everything about perculiardom. If the next movie carries over from the first I have got know idea what miss perigrin and children will do sailing around on the ship, it wouldn’t make such of a good story as there is no obvious place to go, they could go anywhere. The book is a lot better as the story carries on with a goal. With the ending of the film there’s couldn’t be a hollow city book as baron is dead. I can only see the film and book leading in two different stories as it is unlikely for them to sort of meet up somewhere in the plot line. I also think the books are better because they have a bigger story, but that is only because the series started before. Actually, the film almost certainly won’t have a hollow city as books are written a lot quicker that the time it takes to make a film, by the time Riggs has written the fourth book the film will only be on second film.

      I am really looking forward to the fourth book though (book of days)

      1. I disagree with you, maybe because I watched the film first and read the book later. I loved the movie so much that it became my favorite movie; I fell in love with the plot so much that I chose its novel and the movie as my undergraduate thesis topic (yeah, the topic got approved as well!).
        However, while reading the novel, I was surprised by many elements not included in the film as the characters’ personalities were changed, various characters were added/eliminated, and the story after the climax, including the ending, was all changed.
        I can tell you what I liked and did not like about both the film and the movie. I LOVED the bold and fierce character of Miss Peregrine in the film. She is shown to be a confident, sassy, and know-it-all guardian who would go to any length to protect her children. But the book Miss Peregrine disappointed me too much because she would rather confine the children into the house than stand up and do something about it. I especially liked the part in the movie when Peregrine shushed Mr. Barron, claiming no one could ever rule her children and devised the plan to shut children in a room. She spoke so well and looked so sharp. This scene was not in the book as Jake and Emma were out fighting with the holloghast when Miss Peregrine and Miss Avocet were kidnapped. But when I read the book and found Mr. Barron hit children and kidnapped Miss Peregrine, I was like, really? And Miss Peregrine did nothing???? In the film, bold and fierce Peregrine talked so confident to Mr. Barron, and no child was harmed as she knew what the right thing to do was. But I really am disappointed in the book Peregrine.
        Anyways, other than that, I was surprised by the adaptation of Jake’s character; the book Jake is very confident and, at times, witty as well. He has a friend and is rich. But film Jake is too dumb, lonely, has no friends, and feels awkward most of the time. However, the book Jake is a good liar and the film Jake is a quick solution finder.
        In the film, nothing is much shown about the relation between Jake and his parents. They are distant and he was only closer to his grandpa, we know that. But I loved the part in the book where Jake talked to his father and got to know about how his father was neglected by Abe. I wish film Jake cared more about his father as book Jake did.
        Furthermore, I LOVED book Emma. She is so fierce, bold, and dominating; she is not confused and afraid to express her desires as film Emma. She is confident and most of the time leading other peculiar (after climax). However, film Emma is all soft, cute (which, by the way, suits her peculiarity – air), and often times is confused in what she wants. She complains about Jake choosing Abe or if Jake should stay but book Emma boldly tells Jake to stay. Their relationship is also awkward in the film but I loved book Emma as she is the domineering partner in romance between her and Jake. Even Jake is intimidated by Emma in the book but the film made them awkward, maybe because of Emma’s airy peculiarity.
        Of course, Enoch is the mean guy in both the book and film, but they made him more meaner in the film. I liked book Enoch because he is logical and rational. While film Enoch mostly centers around jealousy (Olive and Jake). However, I liked that they added the romance/kind-of-romance between Enoch and Olive as second lead couple. It would have been a pedo scene in the book if they showed Enoch + Olive because Olive is a little girl in the movie while Enoch is either a late-teen or a young adult.
        Now, talking about the plot, I was disappointed with the book about Barron’s death. Mr. Barron carries a “gun”, really? I liked the film more because if Barron was a wight, he should have some supernatural power and not carry a material means to protect him. Film Barron is more like a scary wight that book failed to portray. Furthermore, I loved the fight scene in the film because book Barron was easy to kill. Jake and Emma killed him, but he was shown having human-like skills (carrying a gun) while film Barron is more scary and evil (suits more with the story).
        About the ending where Jake meets Abe in the film, I am unsure about it. Because Jake chooses to stay with the peculiar in the book while he came back for his grandpa in the film. I feel both are justified as the film ending is like a closure (or maybe I liked film ending more but I do not like that Jake left his parents for peculiar. In the book, he had a talk with his father and informed him before leaving with peculiars but what about his parents in the film?). So, this way, I feel like both are okay, not very good either way. Though they did include a scene in the film where Jake talks with Young Abe on the phone; I think it should have been a part of book too. But again, book has Jake + Franklin and film has Jake + Abe (relationship development), so both are 1:1.
        Now, if I have to conclude it all, I would say I liked the movie better. I don’t care about the characters of Emma, Olive, Jake, or the ending. I was just hurt at the part in the book where children told Jake that Barron hurt them and took Miss Peregrine. I am still very hurt and mad about it. I LOVED film Peregrine, for her boldness, sharpness, fierceness, and everything. I mean, how could you let him (Barron) hurt children? Look at film Peregrine! How she handled the situation! She said SHUSH to Mr. Barron, the wight who would have killed them all. This is where I can say book Peregrine doesn’t deserve to be a guardian. She is weak while film Peregrine is truly a guardian. Maybe this is one point where I cannot forgive book Peregrine. Never. And this is why I like the film more. That’s it. Thank you.

    2. Can someone tell me how jake travels in loops in the ending of the film??he says he used the california loop to get to the tokyo loop? What’s the logic behind That? Loops can be entered from any time right… why not go straight to the closest desired loop??? I didn’t get it

      1. Ummm.. I don’t think it works that way. Think of it like cellular connectivity works in today’s world. We send a message, the signals travel from one tower to another. Similarly, the time loops can be travelled from one loop to another. It is mentioned in the books. You cannot straightaway enter in one loop anytime. You have to travel to one loop; then you will find another loop in the time of the previous loop. For example, if you live in a 2022 loop, you must find another loop in today’s world. Just like Jake finds the 1940 loop in 2016. In 1940, there must be other loops in the other world. Suppose you find a loop of 1826 in the 1940 world. Then you would enter the 1826 loop. Then, you would have to find another loop in the world of 1826. From there, you can go to another loop. I hope that helps.

      2. Their loop got destroyed, so they started living a normal life life and they would age as the days goes by, So Jake traveled through loops back to 1943.

      3. it’s because since he was in the US, the closest loop for him was in California. He wouldn’t have been able to go to the Tokyo loop immediately as that would take a lot of travel time (via planes). He jumped through loops based on their proximity.

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