- Page Count: 352
- Release Date: June 21, 2016
- My Rating: 4 stars
Goodreads book description:
Wylie Dalton didn’t believe in fairy tales or love at first sight. Then she met a real-life Peter Pan.
When Wylie encounters Phinn—confident, mature, and devastatingly handsome—at a party the night before her brother goes to juvie, she can’t believe how fast she falls for him. And that’s before he shows her how to fly.
Soon Wylie and her brothers find themselves whisked away to a mysterious tropical island off the coast of New York City where nobody ages beyond seventeen and life is a constant party. Wylie’s in heaven: now her brother won’t go to jail and she can escape her over-scheduled life with all its woes and responsibilities—permanently.
But the deeper Wylie falls for Phinn, the more she begins to discover has been kept from her and her brothers. Somebody on the island has been lying to her, but the truth can’t stay hidden forever.
I FINALLY FOUND A SOLID PETER PAN RETELLING!
I have read so, so many disappointing Peter Pan retellings and went into this one expecting to hate everything, but was absolutely shocked. The writing was good, the worldbuilding was awesome, the characters were solid (+10000 points for diversity), and nothing felt juvenile or forced. I was obviously here for the Peter Pan aspect, but I think it’s different enough that even people who don’t like the normal fairy tale could still enjoy this.
I think the plot point that most retellings struggle with is the actual getting to Neverland. Like should the characters just hop out of their window with some magical fairy kid? And why. The first half of this book was just Wylie and her brothers John and Micah getting to Neverland and then the description of the place, but it worked perfectly.
Wylie is a very astute & mature (yet believable) teen who’s a bit disillusioned with growing up after watching her parent’s marriage slowly fall apart. Micah is this adorable kid with combat boots and a flask. The story gets going when Wylie meets a cute guy, Phinn, at a rooftop party the night before her brother John is sent to juvie. She and her brothers eat some flowers that let them fly around NYC with Phinn and then they wake up a bit hungover on Phinn’s sailboat. He’s essentially kidnapped them and is taking them to Minor Island (lol at the name).
AND NEVERLAND IS SO COOL. It had indigenous people but then people who didn’t want to fight in Vietnam ended up there too and the whole place is like this awesome environmentalist hippie commune. Phinn says he had taken kids who were in shelters or had rough lives to live on Minor Island. They live in bamboo bungalows, there’s no technology, they wear all these loose linen clothes and grow their own food, and the descriptions of everything are so beautiful. Their slang is hilarious (like “midlife” = “tragic”) and everyone stays 17 years old forever.
Tinka is perfect with her blonde pixie cut + complicated relationship with Phinn. Wylie had been running a youtube cooking blog back home and shares cooking tips with Lola (who I think is meant to be Tiger Lily). And there allegedly was this psychopath guy Hopper who mutilated his hand, left them, and is now kidnapping random kids to his “forbidden side” and those “lost kids” never return. So basically lots of clever ways to make the story more modern + with older kids. The second half of the book felt kind of weird until the plot twist towards the end that made it all work. Like everything felt a bit random at first… suddenly Wylie is in love with Phinn and then they have a Neverland prom. And weird drama and attacks happen. I took a star off because even though I was totally into the first half and end, there was a gap I really didn’t really connect with.
Then there’s this awesome plot twist that totally changed everything. I couldn’t get a strong sense of Phinn throughout the story, but that lack of clarity made more sense later. He’s a much more dimensional character at the end.
So I think this is part of a series? I was freaking out at the end when there was so much left to resolve in like 2 pages. I think knowing that in advance might have helped some of the issues I had with pacing and getting into the story, too. So all is well. We have a creative Peter Pan retelling that works!!
Thank you to the publisher for sending me an ARC!
See my Q&A with the author here.