I received this book for free from Spencer Hill Press in exchange for an honest review. This does not affect my opinion of the book or the content of my review.Never Never by Brianna Shrum
Published by Spencer Hill Press on September 22nd 2015
Number of Pages: 356
Genres: Fairy Tale, Fantasy, Romance, Young Adult
Source: Spencer Hill Press
Purchase: At Amazon
James Hook is a child who only wants to grow up.
When he meets Peter Pan, a boy who loves to pretend and is intent on never becoming a man, James decides he could try being a child—at least briefly. James joins Peter Pan on a holiday to Neverland, a place of adventure created by children’s dreams, but Neverland is not for the faint of heart. Soon James finds himself longing for home, determined that he is destined to be a man. But Peter refuses to take him back, leaving James trapped in a world just beyond the one he loves. A world where children are to never grow up.
But grow up he does.
And thus begins the epic adventure of a Lost Boy and a Pirate.
This story isn’t about Peter Pan; it’s about the boy whose life he stole. It’s about a man in a world that hates men. It’s about the feared Captain James Hook and his passionate quest to kill the Pan, an impossible feat in a magical land where everyone loves Peter Pan.
This book flips between having a middle grade feel, and then suddenly becoming YA. There were a lot of making Peter into being an evil child. Which seems to be a thing in Peter Pan retellings. Peter seemed to have no problem with killing. Pirates, Lost Boys, he’d kill or attempt to kill them and never care about the blood spilling.
I also wasn’t expecting the sex. Yes it’s mostly off-screen. But it is something I haven’t come across before when reading a story based in the Peter Pan mythos.
The first third or so of the book was a really quick read. I wanted to know what was going to happen next, and what twists would be thrown into the story. After that it bogged down a bit. There was quite a lot of time spent angsting over the romantic interest. The very end bits of the book mirrored what happened in the Disney adaptation and the original Peter Pan book, with a few minor tweaks.
Looking back, there wasn’t a huge amount of plot. It mostly boils down to: Hook wants to go home. Hook wants to kill Peter Pan. Hook falls in love. Hook wants to kill Peter Pan. I really wanted to love this book. Peter Pan is one of my favorite characters, and getting to see him through others eyes is usually a fun thing. This book just fell shy of the mark for me.
I did like how Starkey and Smee were portrayed. And how they took on characteristics of Hooks parents. I also liked how the ship was described (except the fact that it had a completely new name.) and the explanations about how children’s dreams become Neverland’s reality. It was also nice to be able to see how Hook came to the island, and how he became a pirate captain.
I also loved the cover. That red streak at the top of the first “N” in Never? It’s Peter’s red feather from his hat. And the hooks that flank the author’s name! The entire cover is pretty much perfect.
If you like darker retellings, you may like this book.