The Peculiars

Thursday, December 27, 2012
She was more than the sum of the crimes of her father. Or so Lena had told herself every time Nana Crane got that gleam in her eye, rattled her knitting needles, and reminded her of Father’s indiscretions, of which there seemed to be no end. She was still telling it to herself now, at eight, in the Pullman car of a passenger train.

Book: The Peculiars by Maureen Doyle McQueary, Amulet Books, 2012

Genre: Historical Fiction/Fantasy
Target Audience: Girls 15-19
Subjects: Creation vs. Evolution (kind of), Prejudice
Summary: A letter changed her world. Or maybe it didn’t. After all, hadn’t there always been doubts? This just sealed it. Her father was surely a Peculiar and it was up to her to find him and determine who she really was. So she sets off on a journey to the north, to the land of Scree, the home of all the Peculiars out there. On her journey she meets two young men, both of whom take an interest in her because of her uniqueness. One appreciates it and admires her. The other sees instantly how to take advantage of it. The next thing she knows, she finds herself in the home of someone the government believes to be aiding Peculiars and possibly, other illegal, maybe even dangerous, actions. She needs to decide fast who to trust and what to believe – about herself and others.
Notes: This is a sort of a fantasy story with humans that develop strange characteristics such as being a goblin or growing wings. It’s set in a believable late 1800’s time frame though. It’s a study in what makes a person who they are. One character believes strongly in evolution. But applied to its logical results, the main character will be unable to be good. She has to be selfish and evil because it’s the nature of her kind. Another character assumes Darwin’s theory of evolution can apply to a certain extent – “biological, but doesn’t explain how people’s choices can change the course of a life.” One character says Darwin was against God, while the believer in evolution says God just used the evolutionary process to create the world. Supposedly Christian missionaries in the story believe that Peculiars have no soul, and even when one risks her life to save the missionaries, one of the missionaries still refuses to accept it. There is hints of Christianity when a book with stories of Creation is found, implying that the Creator made peculiars just the way they are, that it isn’t an accident or a sign of evil. Overall though, Christianity just isn’t the primary influence in this story. The character doesn’t know that God can change a life, any life, and that He, not evolution, is in charge of who a person becomes. So the book contains some good elements, but seems to leave the reader confused as to the truth. There’s a lot of spiritual elements tossed out here and there, but not definite Scriptural truth taught.
Spiritual Content Recommendation Scale: 2/5
Reviewer: J:-)mi

Colossians 1:16 – For by him all things were created: things in heaven and on earth, visible and invisible, whether thrones or powers or rulers or authorities; all things were created by him and for him. He is before all things, and in him all things hold together.

Psalm 139:14 – I praise you because I am fearfully and wonderfully made; your works are wonderful, I know that full well.


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