There are two stories in this world (and their Disney movie adaptations if I’m being real with you guys) that I have enjoyed since I was old enough to read… or, y’know… form meaningful opinions on things. One is Alice in Wonderland, and the other is Peter Pan. I’m just becoming aware of Christina Henry’s books now, which is a shame because let’s be honest here… uh, this shit is right up my alley. I SHALL ENDEAVOR TO CORRECT THIS GRIEVOUS ERROR. (That means read all the things!)
Also, this review is based on an ARC of this novel, which I somehow won in a giveaway (on my birthday, too!) which is as amazing as it is unlikely. 😀 Happy Birthday, me!
There is one version of my story that everyone knows. And then there is the truth. This is how it happened. How I went from being Peter Pan’s first—and favorite—lost boy to his greatest enemy.
Peter brought me to his island because there were no rules and no grownups to make us mind. He brought boys from the Other Place to join in the fun, but Peter’s idea of fun is sharper than a pirate’s sword. Because it’s never been all fun and games on the island. Our neighbors are pirates and monsters. Our toys are knife and stick and rock—the kinds of playthings that bite.
Peter promised we would all be young and happy forever.
Then he smiled, and oh, that smile. It was that smile that had stolen me away from the Other Place, the smile that made me want to do anything for him.
The idea that the villain of a story that you’ve loved since forever and ever isn’t actually the villain is kind of awesome, really. I love alternate retellings of stories I like (be they mythology or not, as it happens), so this one was, as I said, right up my alley. Having binged on Once Upon a Time a couple years back (don’t judge me >.>), I was already on board with the idea that Peter might just be the villain of the story after all. The idea is really compelling to me. And of course, when it is presented in a lovely package like this story is, I can’t help myself!
This reads a bit like a combination of Peter Pan and Lord of the Flies in parts. I’m pretty sure that any large group of unattended 8-12 year old boys left to their own devices for years and years would be similar in nature to this group. Perhaps not quite as brutal as Peter and his Lost Boys are a lot of the time, but dirty, boastful, and prone to bouts of fighting all the same. They play games like Battle and Pirate Raid, which sound childish, when you think of a group of children playing them, but they are in actuality exactly what they sound like they are. Battle is very likely to be to the death, and every time the lost boys go a-raiding, the pirates’ first mate gets his hand cut off. It’s a tradition, you see.
Oh Peter, you little shit. I wasn’t expecting to hate you so quickly, but here we are. I immediately cheered for Jamie, because while he has been on Peter’s island for countless years, he isn’t quite as… ehh let’s go with ‘selfish’ – he’s not as selfish as Peter is. He defends the weaker boys from the stronger ones. He still cares about… anything. I pretty much immediately loved Jamie as a character. Peter though, well, I immediately wanted Peter to get a good comeuppance for all his ridiculousness. Because Peter doesn’t care about anything at all except himself. Everything he does is for him alone, but he’s got this group of kids brainwashed into thinking he is the absolute shit. Peter and Jamie are so well written that I loved one and loathed the other within chapter one. Bloody brilliant.
The story sucked me right in and wouldn’t let go until I had finished. When I get busy in my everyday life, which I have been lately, I find myself leaving my book at home, because I won’t have time to read at work. Well, this one was either in my bag or on my desk at any given point. It’s a shame I couldn’t down it all in one go, but alas. Sometimes you just can’t. I savored it when I could. Going back to a book you really enjoy when you have a few minutes is a real reward. 🙂
Very well written and immersive. The imagery was on point, and I felt like I was on the island with them. Neverland has the mermaids, pirates, and crocodiles that I was expecting, but it had the unexpected as well. I didn’t go in expecting a story that I know well, retelling or not, to be full of surprises and twists and turns, but as it turns out, it totally was. Parts had me on the edge of my seat. I uttered an unapologetic ‘OH SNAP!’ once or twice as well. That ending was intense!
I loved this book. Love, love loved every moment I had with it in my limited reading time these last few weeks. So, I heartily recommend it to anyone who enjoys Peter Pan… but is also alright with the idea of a role reversal… 😀 You won’t be disappointed!