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I wasn't sure what to expect from a YA Jeff Vandermeer book, but essentially this is over six-hundred pages of Jeff Vandermeer. If you like Jeff Vandermeer's other books, you'll probably love this. If you don't know who Jeff Vandermeer is, you should know that unlike some writers of epic young adult fantasy, Jeff Vandermeer is an excellent prose stylist. He's also incredibly imaginative, and leans into the weird pretty hard.
This book, like all his books, has its own style. It's told in a sort of British-clever voice, and is at once that, and a send-up of that. There are also sections of this book that are just beautifully written, and caused me to go back over them just to see how they were put together to create the effect they have. There are plenty of likeable and strange characters, and the world being set up is full of unexpected surprises.
Although this book in some sense has the spine of a typical fantasy quest, the details and rules of the world being built here really distinguish it from other fantasy. This book features talking marmots, Alistair Crowley, the disembodied head of Napoleon, and a slew of other characters I don't want to spoil. As I understand it, A Peculiar Peril is either the first part of a duology, or the first two parts of a tetrology. In any case, the book comes to a satisfying close, but there are plenty of interesting plot threads that need resolving.
Great book! Haven't finished it yet but it was unexpectedly signed by the fantastic author which was a nice bonus having pre-ordered it. Otherwise, so far it is excellent writing that is to be expected at this point of Jeff VanderMeer. So far the book is PG and is probably a great introduction to this genre for anyone above age 13.
Where to begin with this book? As a long time fan of VanderMeer, I'm one to pick up anything new he publishes, but had no idea what to expect from this first YA outing. Well to be clear from the start, it's YA in style and presentation only - there's humour, and absurdity, and a fantasy setting with talking animals, but it's all wrapped around emotionally deep characters and an incredibly complex narrative that continues the same themes of authoritarian power structures and the environment that drive the majority of VanderMeer's fiction.
This is a brilliant story, reminiscent of the fantasy worlds of Walter Moer's, but with more deapth and breadth and utter insanity to keep your turning the page for the entire 650 - page wild ride.
This book was like nothing else I’ve ever read, and that is definitely a complement. Everything I’ve read by Jeff VanderMeer has been unique and beautifully complex, so I bought this when it came out without actually knowing anything about it. As someone who usually reads weird fiction and horror, I’m usually hesitant to read YA (with the exception of Nnedi Okorafor). A Peculiar Peril seems like it should have its own category- absurdist/surrealist fantasy. Seems like it’s really only considered YA because there are teenage protagonists, talking animals, and no gore (heads get chopped off, but they’re fine and go on to more adventures).
Above all else, this book is fun! I’ve had enough inexplicable dystopian horror from the news, so it was great to spend the week listening to this book and grinning like an idiot the whole time. I particularly love the sections from the POV of Ruth Less, one of the monsters.
There’s a lot going on, and it’s VERY strange. I understand how this book isn’t for everybody. But I loved it! Had to order the paper copy as well after seeing some of the illustrations online.
This book makes darkness light and horrific monsters endearing. The human cast is diverse but not token, the non-human cast manages to capture alien perspectives and understandings without feeling cliche or reductive. Vandermeer trusts his readers to understand nuance and doesn't spoon-feed exposition or explanation. An excellent book to read while our own world feels as if it's ending.