A modern-day retelling of Peter Pan–what a great idea!
Peter’s Top Ten:
1. Ice cream for breakfast.
2. The sound of the ocean with her breath in my ear.
3. The Lost Boys on our waterfall.
4. Sleeping next to her.
5. Arguing with Belle.
6. Watching her.
8. Kissing in the rain.
9. Finding things to steal.
Northern was supposed to be a fresh start—a place where people didn’t know who I was or how I had spent years in and out of mental institutes. People didn’t know about my parents death or the island no one heard of. But when Peter sits next to me in lit class, I can’t stop the memories, and I don’t want to. He looks too much like the boy from the island, and despite my best intentions, coaxes my secrets from me.
He’s gorgeous, irresistible, a little mad, and completely lost—we are a pair of broken cogs in a world neither of us truly fits into. He is somehow gentle and fierce, heartbreaking in his devotion and savage in his defense.
When Belle, his best friend, shows up, pale and lovely and sick, Peter pulls away from me, a startling withdrawal. It’s a relationship that scares and confuses me. She is at times warm and friendly, and other times is violent and unpredictable.
Peter says that he wants me, but refuses to let himself get close. And there are secrets, surrounding both of us, that border on nightmares. As the memories close in, as Belle gets sicker and more violent, I’m torn between what is true and what I believe, and what this magical boy knows about my mysterious past.
This one left me torn. I loved the concept–a modern retelling of Peter Pan–it’s not one that I’ve really seen before. The idea that the modern “Wendy” (Gwendolyn, i.e. Gwendy) first encounters Peter not when he shows up in the family nursery but while she’s in the middle of a crisis out on the open sea and coincidentally near his hidden island is a good one. It makes sense that no one would believe the outlandish tales that a traumatized twelve-year-old would come back from there with, and indeed poor Gwendolyn does spend the next several years in and out of mental institutions and hospitals–and during many of those years, she continues to see “The Boy” as she calls him, usually during times of stress. Naturally, no one else sees him, and so her presumed psychosis continues. So far, so good.
Now, years later, Gwen hasn’t seen “The Boy” in two years, and with medication and therapy she’s going to give college a try. She chooses the same school as her very protective and one-year-younger brother, and things seem…okay.
The book definitely was a page-turner–it kept me interested. When was she going to figure out who the mysterious Peter and his slightly creepy frat brothers were?
And here’s where it lost me a bit. It seemed at times as if of course she knew. How could she not? The truth was practically smacking her upside the head. True, she’d had people telling her for years that it was all in her head–there was no island, no Boy, no boys in the jungle–and had the medical (and medicinal) help to prove it. Still, though, it seemed over-the-top implausible that she’d still have absolutely no idea why this guy seemed so familiar after months of spending time with him–some of that time in very close contact.
Gwen was really the only character in the novel who felt fully fleshed out. Part of this is because of the first person narration, but not entirely. The secondary characters–even her brother and roommate, who had rather large roles in the story–felt a bit shadowy. Gwen had other love interests–one serious, one who really had another person in his sights–but they too felt pretty one-dimensional.
The ending too felt less than satisfactory. I was really curious about the “how”s involved in the story–how did the island exist where no one else could find it? How did Peter, Belle, and the boys come to be there? How long had they been there? How had Peter managed to keep track of Gwen for so long, and how did he get to where she needed him just when he was needed? How did they get to Gwen’s college and manage to appear more or less like “normal” college students? There was obviously some degree of magic involved–how? Why? None of this was explained, and it left me feeling ultimately unfulfilled.
(Plus, my brain had a really hard time with the concept of Peter Pan giving and receiving oral. It just did not want to go there. But that could just be me…)
So–I liked it, but I didn’t love it. It kept my interest, but left me with a lot of questions. Would I read more from this author? Yes, chances are good. If she wrote more about this world, would I read it? Definitely, in the hope that some of my curiosity would be satisfied.
If you find the idea of modern-day retelling of childhood stories interesting, give this one a try. It’s definitely worth a look.
Rating: 3 stars / C
I received a complimentary copy in exchange for an honest review.