Second Star by Alyssa B. Sheinmel // A Peter Pan Retelling... Gone Right?

Friday, 1 January 2016
Second Star, by Alyssa B. Sheinmel
Publication: June 2, 2015, by Square Fish
Genre: Young Adult Fiction, Contemporary, Romance, Retelling, Fantasy
Pages: 256
Format: Paperback
Source: Borrowed

A twisty story about love, loss, and lies, this contemporary oceanside adventure is tinged with a touch of dark magic as it follows seventeen-year-old Wendy Darling on a search for her missing surfer brothers. Wendy's journey leads her to a mysterious hidden cove inhabited by a tribe of young renegade surfers, most of them runaways like her brothers. Wendy is instantly drawn to the cove's charismatic leader, Pete, but her search also points her toward his nemesis, the drug-dealing Jas. Enigmatic, dangerous, and handsome, Jas pulls Wendy in even as she's falling hard for Pete. A radical reinvention of J. M. Barrie's classic tale, Second Star is an irresistible summer romance about two young men who have yet to grow up—and the troubled beauty trapped between them.

My Thoughts:

Since my childhood, I have always been the biggest fan of Peter Pan. The story, its themes, its message, everything about it made me so sure that I would never want to grow up. I guess these days, kids do not get the ability to hear and recognize the story, and it will never make sense to them what this story by Alyssa B. Sheinmel is really talking about. Second Star was a very more modern take on the story that J.M. Barrie brought to life with Disney, taking place in California, about a girl who has her future all set out, until her two brothers go missing and her life collapses before her eyes.

Second Star had a rough start with me. I found it so unbelievable, when fairytales should seriously seem real and believable for everyone, including adults who decide to pick this book up. Wendy Darling is going to Stanford. STANFORD. THE STANFORD. A three percent chance acceptance rate where there is no proof or descriptions that she has worked hard for this. Yes it is a book, and yes it is fiction, but because it is referencing a real legit educational institute, at least follow the details, please. That, as well as some other things, like when Wendy meets Pete, seemed unbelievable and cliché. I did not think that this book would ever be at a good finish. Thankfully, it did.

So Wendy Darling is our protagonist of course, and instead of the Neverland woo-hoo crazy plot world that Barrie created for us in his story, we have a modern day thing. There's surfing, there's partying, there's drugs and alcohol. I am pretty sure that none of that is associated with pixie dust, and I don't remember discovering any of the characters to be similar to Tinker Bell, now that I think about it. I spent a big chunk of the story trying to reconcile characters and think about who could be who. Some of the names were obvious, while others were weird. Some of the qualities also were not there, but it was not like I paid so much attention to that.

"Pete shakes his head. "You can't bring all of that with you here." He taps the board. "Worries weigh you down. You need to be light enough to fly."

You see that reference? There are so many parts of the novel where I felt like it was so connected to the original story. This is what I am looking for in a retelling. It does not matter whether it is a modern take on the beautiful story or if it is fantasy and all of that mixed in. If the author's writing is great, addictive, and straight-up using some of the original traits, then it is fantastic. This is a real take on the reality of many teenagers or people, perhaps those with a different take on the world than the average person. Wendy experiments drugs to get her out of the grief, stays by herself, and imagines that she is loved when there is nothing left for her, or at least, that is how she feels.

Although Pete was really great, I connected with Jas. He's so hot, he's so bad, and it just makes me squirm when I read his lines. He's a drug dealer (and not that I would ever want to be with someone like that), he's convincing. More convincing than Pete. At least he and Wendy had some kind of chemistry, right? The best thing was that Wendy was torn between a love triangle with the two guys, and I was shocked to see the way things turned out.

You see, the ending came out and made me so scared. It is abrupt, and it came out of nowhere. Wendy came back to reality, and I was completely shocked with the way things turned out for her. She was not supported by anyone, including her best friend, Fiona, and her parents. 

"Did I take the drugs because I was so grief-stricken and then manufacture this world, or did I manufacture this world because I was so grief-stricken and take drugs to keep the illusion alive?" (227)

I am extremely satisfied with this novel. Books have not been going well for me lately and it is the perfect, quick read to throw you out of any slump that you have been experiencing. It is vivid, wild, but also light and easy to read in a matter of hours. 

Second Star is fantastically written with all of the detail and specialty that the original Barrie story incorporated for millions of imaginative children. It is a nice modern take with original concepts of contemporary and romance, mixed in with a love triangle that I do not have enough of. 

Have you ever read about a Peter Pan retelling? Would you give a modern retelling of a good story a chance?

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