Single Sundays: While this blog may be focused on reviewing book series as a whole, we can’t forget about the good ole’ standalone novel! On Sundays, I will review a novel that is considered to be a standalone novel. Here is this week’s offering:
Synopsis for Never Never (from Goodreads):
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.
Author: Brianna Shrum
Genre: Young Adult, Fantasy, Adventure, Fairy Tale Retellings
Heat Rating: warm
Point of View: Third Person, Single
Publication Date: September 22, 2015
Source & Format: NetGalley–eBook
Why I Picked it Up / My Expectations:
I first found this book on another blog (after I added this one, I started to actually list where I find these for future posts). I love Peter Pan. I watched the animated movie as a kid numerous, numerous times. I also adore Captain Hook from the Once Upon a Time TV series <3
So when I saw that there was going to be a prequel of sorts with this book–and one that focuses mostly on Captain Hook–I was sold!
The Concept / The World:
When I started reading this, it reminded me a lot of Wicked: The Musical in the sense that in this prequel, you have two well known enemies start as friends. And the focus is even on the “villain” character (Hook in Never Never and Elphaba in Wicked) more so than the “hero” character (Peter Pan and Glinda) in each case. But are they really the villain? Or are they just misunderstood? That’s what each story tries to convey and I love that approach–well, more so in Never Never than in Wicked.
Back to Never Never: I thought the take on Neverland was really cool. The idea that it’s fuelled by dreams really works for the story. The world itself is easily recognizable to fans of the various mainstream adaptations but it also has this darker feel to it–which was my favourite part. It doesn’t shy away from death or violence–which is what you want (or at least what I want) when I read about a pirate. That doesn’t mean it is gory or extremely violent–all I’m saying is that there are consequences when boys fight with swords and I liked the unpredictability the story had as a result.
I’m not sure what I was truly expecting the plot to be when I heard about this book. I think at first I thought it would be high action but when I started reading, it felt more like an adventure/coming of age story to me. There are definitely action scenes and definitely moments of suspense but I felt like a majority of the time was focused on James trying to deal with his situation in Neverland and his budding rivalry with Peter.
I think some people might feel like that focus makes the story dry at times because I know I initially thought that too. But as I got further into the book, I really became interested in James’ story. And I realized that the reason I truly picked up this book was because I wanted to know more about James Hook the character and how he becomes Captain Hook.
Casting Peter Pan as a villain really gives this story an interesting edge and made me think twice about how I perceive the whole Peter Pan persona. Is he truly saving the Lost Boys or is he just projecting his ideals on others? It also makes you wonder if it truly is a good thing to remain as a child forever; that even if you don’t grow up, you can still lose your innocence but doing foolish actions.
Perhaps a little too deep for this book? Maybe, but I enjoyed the thoughts it provoked in me.
As for Hook, I didn’t think I would have anything in common with him, but I easily attached myself to his character. Like him, I always wanted to grow up. People always say I’m extremely mature for my age and I think that goes hand in hand with being the oldest child AND the want to do things in life that you have to be older/more responsible for.
I liked watching Hook’s character develop and grow. And what I liked even more is that he makes mistakes. He isn’t perfect, he chooses to do some not so bright things and he learns from them. I love that about coming of age stories! It really grounds him from being this over the top villain that I watched as a kid to a real boy who is human too. I love when stories can make me empathize with a villain or make me feel something I would never have felt about them before.
I’m not sure why I didn’t see the romance coming. In hindsight it seems so obvious to me. But nevertheless, I was a little surprised that there was a romance when I first started reading and that it does play a pretty significant role in the grand scheme of things. In the end, I really enjoyed that aspect. It really worked for the story and those moments were some of my favourite in the entire book.
My Rating: 4/5
If you have ever wanted to know what caused Captain Hook to be the notorious villain he is, this is the book for you! It is Hook’s coming of age story that really makes you double-guess about what you know about Neverland and Peter Pan!
Read if You Like: adventure stories, prequel retellings of well known tales
Avoid if You: don’t like coming of age stories, Peter Pan