SYNOPSIS: Gwen Darling and her siblings, Joanna and Mikey, are desperately trying to survive in a war-torn, disease-ridden England, now called Everland. A world where it seems only the children have survived and the villainous Captain Hook and his band of Marauders are rounding up the survivors for purposes unknown. When Joanna gets captured Gwen meets the charismatic Pete and his band of Lost Boys and together they just might have a chance of getting her back and escaping Everland.
I’ve said it before, and I’ll say it again. Peter Pan retellings are the one type of retelling that I am super picky about, and I absolutely adored this one! One of my favorite things that Spinale does with her version of Peter Pan are the little winks to the novel, play, and Disney adaptation. I loved how she made all the elements work in her world and how a lot of the winks weren’t blatant, but buried in such a way that if you know Peter Pan by heart it jumps out at you right away. There was never a moment where I though “Oh she just put that in because she felt like she had to because she’s retelling Peter Pan.” I also liked that she changed John to Joanna to add another girl into the mix and the switch worked within the story. I enjoyed the fact that Gwen and Bella are a little at odds in the beginning (just like Wendy and Tink), but they make up and become good friends which is a problem in the original that all the girls are jealous of each other and I’m glad Spinale took the time to fix that. Of course I adored all the Lost Boys (especially Gabs, that precious child), but I might be a little partial because once a Lost Boy always a Lost Boy (and I do wish that some of them had the original Lost Boy names, but the new names make more sense in the context of the world). I honestly just love all the thought that she put into constructing this version of Peter Pan while also keeping in mind everything about the original that makes it so fantastic. She improves upon some of the faults and gives them all more depth and dimension. Pete isn’t always sure-footed and cocky, we seem him be vulnerable while also maintaining every characteristic I know and love about Peter Pan. Bella is just as feisty as Tinker Bell, but since she isn’t a fairy she’s allowed to have more than one emotion at a time and she’s able to be fleshed out. I loved that Tiger Lily was Indian and I was so excited when she showed up! In the original her only job was to save everyone and while that is the purpose she served in Everland, I’m excited to see what Spinale does with her next. I’m still not sure about Doc and Jack because they don’t really have Peter Pan counterparts, but are obviously going to play a big role in the long run that I’m excited to see play out. I’m interested to see what happens to Hook and the Marauders next because they’re the primary antagonists for Pete, Gwen, and the Lost Boys, but there is also a greater antagonist in the Queen of Germany who is also an antagonist to the Marauders. I liked that Hook is made to be semi-sympathetic (but a bad childhood is no excuse for what he does) and as long as he’s never fully on Pete’s side I’ll be okay, but it will be interesting to see how this Queen plays into everything and if that means the Marauders are going to go off on their own. Honestly this book was everything that I wanted it to be, but like everything it has a few problems. I had a hard time figuring out if this was set in the future or the past. There are a lot of moments where it seemed like it was set in 1904 like the book and play, but there were other moments that felt so modern. When I think steampunk, I think Victorian era so that was what I was expecting, but then there are dialogue and scenarios that made me realize that it is probably set in the future. It’s not a big thing, but it did leave me a little confused. Overall I am pleased with the world Spinale has created and if Slightly Soiled could show up at some point I’d be a very happy Lost Boy! 😉