Wendy Darling has a perfectly agreeable life with her parents and brothers in wealthy London, as well as a budding romance with Booth, the neighborhood bookseller’s son. But while their parents are at a ball, the charmingly beautiful Peter Pan comes to the Darling children’s nursery and—dazzled by this flying boy with god-like powers—they follow him out of the window and straight on to morning, to Neverland, a intoxicating island of feral freedom.
As time passes in Neverland, Wendy realizes that this Lost Boy’s paradise of turquoise seas, mermaids, and pirates holds terrible secrets rooted in blood and greed. As Peter’s grasp on her heart tightens, she struggles to remember where she came from—and begins to suspect that this island of dreams, and the boy who desires her—have the potential to transform into an everlasting nightmare.
The foundation of this story, as well as its general execution, create an interestingly dark new look at the story of Peter Pan. However, I often felt bogged down by over the top descriptions – that left me more confused about the setting than informed. Those long descriptions, which I felt did more to distract the reader than suck them deeper into the story, also had me losing focus and getting bored, making this a hard read sometimes.
Beyond my one major issue, I really liked that a lot of the traits from the original story remained intact. While this is certainly a darker version, the intelligence and logic of John is a constant, the strange man/boy attitude Peter has dominates his character and control over the Lost Boys, and Wendy’s purity and devotion to her family continue to drive her actions.
Oakes’ twist on the characters is so interesting. Peter is basically insane, Tink is jealous to a murderous level, John wanting so much to belong he abandons his siblings, and Wendy’s journey with her memories makes the already darkening story reach a whole new level. The paradise of Neverland is a sham. And while I don’t think I can take on Oakes’ second installment right away, I am certainly invested enough to go back to the series and see if Wendy ever makes it back to London.