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We come to the end of the book yet it is only but the beginning. As the peculiars end an extended part of their life, they find themselves faced with adventure, mystery, and their sheltered lives no more. All thanks to Jacob.
Chapter Summary (with Commentary)
Chapter 9: They may love you, but they’ll never understand
Chapter 9 begins the beginning of the end, with Miss Avocet’s arrival, but it also lays down some ground rules and history for us. Ground-rule wise, we learn most peculiar and humans can’t see Hollows (aka Hollowgast). Also, Hollows can’t enter loops. Wights on the hand can.
Leading us to cover some history. Now, in an earlier chapter I skipped over this information, but so you know now, Miss Peregrine is not an only child. In fact, she has two brothers. Said brothers, sometime around 1908, alongside many other male peculiars, since it seems women don’t pursue evil in this book, sought immortality. Reason being, peculiars are mortal. Their gifts, as noted, while phenomenal, don’t protect them from the harms of aging and the reaper’s scythe. Which, you know, because men have egos and can’t handle having immense power and losing it, much less not being praised for it, so gave birth to the Hollowgast. Of which, Miss Peregrine’s brother, using the knowledge they gained from being raised around ymbrynes, were high important.
However, it should be noted the experiment to make peculiars immortal partly failed. It did create a huge bomb like effect in the Siberian tundra, but what ended up happening is those peculiars evolved into Hollowgast which eventually become wights. Hollowgast called said name due to their hearts and souls being empty, like their wight counterparts, have had their memories wiped. So Miss Peregrine’s brothers won’t remember her, the council who warned them against the experiments, nothing. Of course, though, this memory is but selective since they still, so it seems, know how to function enough to move about society.
Well, to a certain degree. Hollows, due to their inability to be seen largely, outside their shadow or if they are about to kill you, are reliant on Wights. Hollowgast are portrayed as impetuous nomads, like teenaged children without impulse control, and Wights are their rich parents who try to hide the damage their little monsters raise. Hell, on occasion, they find either peculiars, animals, or common people for hollowgast to feed on.
Leading us out of history and back to Jacob’s story. His grandfather, after the war, went to America for normalcy since with the hollowgast being born in Russia and seemingly working with Nazis to hunt down oddities for extermination, America was seen as safe. Yet, as for how many are like Jacob and Grandpa, this isn’t really known or mentioned in the book. With that, it seems between Miss Peregrine, this never seen council or others, Grandpa Abe was often asked to kill pockets of hollowgast or wights. Something he did proudly to defend his people while, all the while, trying to maintain this facade of normalcy. But now grandpa is gone and there seemingly aren’t any more great heroes like him. So there remains Jacob.
Someone not too keen of his peculiarity, mostly because there have been so many opportunities to tell him but they were ignored. He even thinks that maybe, in order to convince him to stay and be the new Abe, Emma was sent to seduce him. An insult not taken lightly but not causing a boiling rage either. Though what comes to Jacob’s mind, in the end, is that if they knew about grandpa and hunted him down, they had to know about him, they must know his father can be a weakness, and on top of that comes the question of his destiny? This group, one now vulnerable, needs him. Yet, at the same time, he has this entire other life. Miss Peregrine, having a rather odd moment for a maternal figure often very poised and proper, tells Jacob that “They may love you, but they’ll never understand.” Perhaps words she may have said to Abe, or wished she had. For that seed, once planted, begins to grow and it makes Jacob’s decision a bit harder.
Chapter 10: On High Alert
With Miss Avocet revealing in the last chapter how her wards were tricked to draw her out and her peer so that they can be kidnapped by the wights, Miss Peregrine initiates a lockdown. One which drives everyone mad and then comes some of the worse news. First that Jacob has less than a week to make a decision, that his dad is slowly becoming an alcoholic drinking 6-7 beers a night, and Martin, the guy from before who had the museum and gave Jacob a wealth of information about the house, he was murdered. In fact, he is the first murder in that town in over 100 years and with a storm brewing, it means that body won’t see a medical examiner for days. Luckily a local fishmonger shop has enough ice for the body.
But with the murder of a citizen, and the thoughts that maybe a hollowgast did it, Jacob reports this to Miss Peregrine. Which, with her already chain smoking her pipe, puts her even more on edge. In fact, now even Jacob can’t leave unless he doesn’t want to comeback. For, at the end of the day, while they need him, once he becomes a liability he outlives his purpose. So he is forced to sneak out. After all, it is all but confirmed a hollowgast is out there and with him murdering a ton of sheep and now a human being, who knows what may happen to his dad? He already bumped into on purpose, trying to be a tough guy, so that may have made him a target.
Of course, though, Emma isn’t letting him go alone. Even though the whole drastic aging thing is a possibility, Jacob can’t be by himself checking to see if this being is truly a hollowgast or just another odd bird watcher. So, alongside Emma, Enoch comes for Martin can be revived to say if what killed him matches the description of a hollowgast, and also Browwyn comes since, let’s face it, these kids aren’t the X-Men. Miss Peregrine doesn’t train them to use their power, so it seems, and Emma can make a ball of fire but can’t shoot projectiles or anything fancy. Also, when it comes to Enoch, it isn’t like he can make a zombie army, he can barely make clay figures of a large size. So, they need some muscle.
Now the breakout goes easy with Olive and Fiona assisting, but the problems arise once Martin starts talking. From there comes the hollowgast and a reveal. Said reveal, which I hope is something else (in a slang way) in the movies, is Dr. Golan revealing he is a wight which has watched both Abe and Jacob for years. I guess just so one day, either may lead them to a pocket of peculiars. But while there is much to say about the hollowgast, Malthus, which is behind Dr. Golan, on top of how Enoch raises the human dead with one hand in their chest cavity and the other holding a sheep heart, so comes some background on Jacob’s allies.
The first being Emma, someone abandoned at a circus after her parents couldn’t sell her to one; then there is Brownyn who murdered her stepfather’s neck, for reasons not said; and then Enoch whose family of undertakers kept losing clients because they would walk away. This information is quite interesting for while, hopefully, the remaining two books go further, this one hasn’t really touched on the lives of these peculiars before Miss Peregrine found them. With Emma, you have to wonder how does one learn they are peculiar when they are like her? Does fire just begin to come out around puberty? Did she get mad one day and burned the house down? Also, how did she learn to control it? Again, Miss Peregrine doesn’t have an X-Men styled learning environment. The kids seem to be on their own outside of their academic lessons and meals, so how did she learn to make simply a ball of light and not turn into the Human Torch? A question which goes for all of them.
That aside, to breeze through this chapter, since honestly, a part of me felt like, even with Millard getting shot and everyone chasing down Dr. Golan, while he has Miss Peregrine and Miss Avocet in bird form mind you, I was getting a tad bored. If only because, being completely honest, my interest in this book comes solely due to the movie. As noted in the first CbC, I’ve seen this book around but never took an interest. Which, I must admit, I don’t necessarily feel bad about since there is nothing which pops with this book.
The end of the book is pretty much uneventful but lets you know there will be a sequel and what will be part of it. For with Dr. Golan dying in the last chapter, and his hollowgast before him, you’d think the kids would perhaps be alright. Wrong! A u-boat filled with wights shows up just as Emma and Jacob think they may rescue both Ms. Peregrine and Ms. Avocet. However, they only get one – their dear Ms. Peregrine. Someone who, for reasons currently unknown, can’t transform back into a human.
So, with one ymbryne gone and now the time loop closed, Jacob has to let his dad know he is leaving. Something which, at first, doesn’t seem like it would be easy, but with his dad drunk and thinking he was dreaming, it surprisingly is. Plus, everyone comes to the future in order to help with the goodbye. Well, not everyone, but those who have been properly introduced and have actually played a significant role in the book. Emma particularly is worth noting for she leaves a note for Frank letting him know she will return Jacob and she apologizes for the inappropriate letter she sent Abe back when Frank was a child.
Leaving us with only the future. We know the Wights are going to plan another attempt at full immortality and they need the power of the ymbrynes to do so. We know that the kids plan to “leapfrog” through time loops to stop them, and with a picture of a concentration camp as their guide, it seems Germany these children will go. For that, so it seems, shall be the place it all goes down.
Things To Note
How awkward is it that Millard is naked all the time?
Jeffrey Dahmer is a noted wight.
Question(s) Left Unanswered
Considering the effect of going to the future is that the characters age, does this mean if they stay in the past too long they will get younger and basically cease to exist?
At times, young man, you tread a precariously thin line between being charmingly headstrong and insufferably pigheaded.
— “Chapter 9″ Miss Peregrine’s Home for Peculiar Children
I realized that leaving wouldn’t be like I had imagined, like casting off a weight. Their memory was something tangible and heavy, and I would carry it with me.
— “Chapter 11.” Miss Peregrine’s Home for Peculiar Children
Overall, I will admit that this book was quite a breeze and gave you just enough to keep you interested. Jacob, while your usual blank slate of a protagonist, was ultimately likable and even though Emma being his love interest seemed like a literary obligation, I can’t wait to see them have lovey-dovey moments in the movie.
Nothing about this book, to me, makes it a must read. The characters are almost all likable and the villains are all despicable. There is no gray, there are no complications, and even with the holocaust being a topic mentioned, and possibly something that will be experienced in the later titles, there is little to no excitement. Yes, there is romance, but said romance is plagued by the fact that Jacob is making out with his grandfather’s ex. On top of that, this book is another case of young kids facing insurmountable odds and surviving because adults are stupid.
I mean, I’ll admit the Dr. Golan twist was good, but besides that you have Jacob’s dad who is more about drowning his sorrows than his kid. A kid who is 16 and disappears for most of the day to a part of the island where there, to probably most townspeople, isn’t anything but sheep poop. On top of that, you have the wights like Dr. Golan who, despite perhaps decades or a century of planning, still can be taken down by a handful of kids. Oh, it hasn’t happened yet, sure, but the predictability of this book makes it so you know it is going to happen. Yeah, Millard got shot, but you know he isn’t going to die. That was what Victor was for. They had to have one death and they made it before we got to know everyone.
Leaving me to think, for perhaps the first time, the adaptation might just be better than the source. Granted, the movie hasn’t come out yet, but the amount of things which could be changed for the better seems high here. If just for the sake of building anticipation, crafting a better romance, and the imagery. Oh, while the hollows look like Pan’s Labyrinth rejects, I still do feel an excitement seeing them more on the screen than reading this book which makes them seem like idiotic monsters.