by Maureen Doyle McQuerry
Lena is on a quest. To find her father. To escape her mother. To find herself. Even if it means entering Scree, the sketchy, secret land where The Peculiars may or may not live. The Peculiars – unthinkable combinations of humans and mythical creatures – may hold the answers Lena has been searching for, but they may be the answers she doesn’t want to hear.
That’s how I felt throughout the majority of The Peculiars. Just meh.
From the beginning I didn’t have any attachments to Lena, our protag. She was cold, condescending and, honestly, pretty boring. And it just got worse as she teamed up with the OBVIOUS BAD GUY to betray the ADORABLE pseudo-librarian, and all around cutie, Jimson.
I did like some of the mysteries, though: is Mr. Beasley a good guy or another bad guy? What, exactly, is going on inside that ginormous house? And I liked the Scree mystery storyline (although, I was kind of let down on the reveal for that one).
One of the more problematic storylines was the mystery of Lena herself. She clearly is some sort of Peculiar, possibly a goblin, but no one can actually confirm that for her. She encounters a few people who don’t think she looks like a goblin, which gives her hope. But, when push comes to shove, goblin she is. Which was completely deflating after numerous discussions about how “rare” her condition was to people familiar with The Peculiars. Don’t get me wrong, I’m totally fine with someone discovering they are only semi-special instead of SPECIAL, BUT. It made me question why Lena was such a mystery, therefore undermining the entire set-up for her character.
The story has a steampunk feel running through it, but I thought it was more outright fantasy than steampunk. There were clearly some pretty great steampunk-esque inventions, but most steampunk has some sort of tie to reality, which I never felt in The Peculiars. I never once thought it was set in *our* world, or even some alternate version of it, but some fictional world.
So, yeah. Just meh. I think there’s an audience for this book, I really do. I mean, it got a starred review from Booklist. I just think the audience wasn’t me. (Although I LOVE the cover. It is GORGEOUS.)
Published by: Amulet Books
How I got a-hold of this one: ebook galley
Another minor thing that bugged me. At the end, Jimson is sent back to care for the library. Did they really think the library would still be standing? After the house had been stormed? I mean, I know there was an alarm and all that, but come on. It’s not like the bad guys would be like “Well, we HATE this guy, but, clearly, we should be polite and not destroy any of the abominable research that we hate.” I didn’t BUY it.