- Page Count: 312
- Release Date: May 10, 2016
- My Rating: 2 stars
Goodreads book description:
The only way to grow up is to survive.
London has been destroyed in a blitz of bombs and disease. The only ones who have survived the destruction and the outbreak of a deadly virus are children, among them sixteen-year-old Gwen Darling and her younger siblings, Joanna and Mikey. They spend their nights scavenging and their days avoiding the deadly Marauders—the German army led by the cutthroat Captain Hanz Otto Oswald Kretschmer.
Unsure if the virus has spread past England’s borders but desperate to leave, Captain Hook is on the hunt for a cure, which he thinks can be found in one of the surviving children. He and his Marauders stalk the streets snatching children for experimentation. None ever return.
Until one day when they grab Joanna. Gwen will stop at nothing to get her sister back, but as she sets out, she crosses paths with a daredevil named Pete. Pete offers the assistance of his gang of Lost Boys and the fierce sharpshooter Bella, who have all been living in a city hidden underground. But in a place where help has a steep price and every promise is bound by blood, it might cost Gwen more than she bargained for. And are Gwen, Pete, the Lost Boys, and Bella enough to outsmart the ruthless Captain Hook?
The absolutely AMAZING concept should get 5 stars. But I’m giving the actual story itself 2 stars.
This is really one of the most original fairy tale retellings I’ve ever seen! I was utterly entranced by this steampunk version of Peter Pan and all of the clever twists. The pirate marauders of the German Bloodred queen unleashed a deadly virus on London and a lot of kids managed to survive. But now the queen might have the virus, so her son Hans Otto Oswald Kretschmer (H.O.O.K.) is leading his zeppelin of soldiers in the search for the single girl who is an Immune. They’re abducting random kids and giving them to some professor in order to make a cure.
Gwen is the single girl who was vaccinated and was forced to grow up quickly after her parents died. The story starts with her caring for her sister Joanna and brother Mikey until the soldiers take Joanna. Gwen soon meets Pete, a teen with red hair & bright green eyes, a forest green tailcoat, and goggles. Bella (Tinkerbell) is a petite girl who can fly with a really cool steam-powered winged jetpack. Pete tells Gwen that underneath the second star to the right is Everland. All of the orphan kids/survivors of the virus are staying underneath it and have built a whole Lost City in the subway tunnels. Gwen finds out that Peter needs her because Bella is dying and most girls aren’t resistant to the virus (hence the whole “lost boy” scene).
So the premise and worldbuilding were absolutely AMAZING. I adored this dark, gritty steampunk version of London so much! There were even crocodiles in the sewers to eat the dead. But I’m still not entirely sure if Everland is London or the palace/headquarters for Hook or… what. Most of the explanation of everything didn’t come until well into the story.
Now for the actual review of the story:
Unfortuantely, this story completely failed in almost every area. The writing was weak, the characters were flat and incredibly unrealistic, and the dialogue was almost painful to sit through. Every single character annoyed me beyond belief with their mood swings and confusing choices. Pete and Gwen would fight for no reason, Bella was hostile for no reason, there was extremely forced drama for no reason… everything just felt like a bad middle school play.
What really killed everything for me was Hook’s POV. (Gwen’s wasn’t great, but at least it felt human). Hook was BEYOND flat, dull, robotic and just…super weird. I don’t even know how to explain how strange it was. I lost total interest every time it got to his POV because he barely seemed alive.
I ended up stopping this book at 60% because it was just too big of a letdown. But I still adore parts of the general concept!!