I received a free copy from Xpresso Book Tours through Netgalley to review.
Series: The Neverland Wars #1
Genre: Retellings, Fantasy,
Format: Ebook, 302 pgs.
Rating: 3.5 Stars
Magic can do a lot—give you flight, show you mermaids, help you taste the stars, and… solve the budget crisis? That's what the grown-ups will do with it if they ever make it to Neverland to steal its magic and bring their children home.
However, Gwen doesn't know this. She's just a sixteen-year-old girl with a place on the debate team and a powerful crush on Jay, the soon-to-be homecoming king. She doesn't know her little sister could actually run away with Peter Pan, or that she might have to chase after her to bring her home safe. Gwen will find out though—and when she does, she'll discover she's in the middle of a looming war between Neverland and reality.
She'll be out of place as a teenager in Neverland, but she won't be the only one. Peter Pan's constant treks back to the mainland have slowly aged him into adolescence as well. Soon, Gwen will have to decide whether she's going to join impish, playful Peter in his fight for eternal youth… or if she's going to scramble back to reality in time for the homecoming dance.
|The Good||The Bad & The Other|
|+LOVED this version of Peter Pan, it makes sense he grows up traveling here and his characterization is perfect||-The magical worldbuilding is weak and not sufficiently advanced, though I enjoyed the nod|
|+Enjoyed the Neverland adventures and learning more about it||-Gwen rubbed me wrong with not liking anything & no hobbies, etc. in the beginning|
|+Liked how it brought up racism in the original tale with the “Redskins” and attempted to disconnect it from American Indians|
|+Love triangle worked for me|
First I have to say, I'm not that big a fan of Peter Pan. I've never dreamed of fleeing to Neverland or meeting him.
While I loved the Disney movie as a kid, the first time I was watching a play version with my father and saw it didn't matter if I clapped when Tinkerbell died really killed it for me.
Sounds odd that I sought this book out, huh? Well, not really. I wanted a modern re-telling hoping I could fall in love with it again before reality was exposed.
And I found it.
The Neverland Wars is a fantastically written whimsical tale of Gwen struggling between her childish impulses and teen yearnings. Being a kid that loved Fantasy and Sci-fi books (and every other kind of book) growing up I understood that part of her that didn't fit in.
Gwen pushed it a bit hard with not liking pop music or anything else without giving alternatives. Like even though I hated most of the girl and boy bands growing up (the 90s man…Spice Girls!!), I had music; I just went in a drastically different direction. Looking back now I was probably compensating and trying to be "edgy".
Why doesn't Gwen like musical or movie versions of fairy tales or try out for theater or writing? She could volunteer with kids somewhere like story time. Give me SOMETHING to work with please. Instead of endearing, this attitude is off-putting. Not enough but I wasn’t feeling her much in the beginning with this going on.
As the adventure unfolded, Gwen really grew on me. I was with her every step after that bump. Her decisions made sense and then…
THAT ENDING. OMFG. That’s just not fair! Such a right hook and the screen fades to black as a cliffhanger.
Peter Pan:It makes sense that his traveling her would age him. I like how he handles being a childish 14 and makes Neverland work. He’s complicated and elusive. He is both attracted and repulsed with his dual nature. Reminds me a lot of Seih from N.K. Jemisin’s Inheritance trilogy.
The Love Triangle:
Yes, there is a love triangle. Yes, Gwen used the word without so much as a date between them or acknowledgement. Yes, the boys are polar opposites. Yet, it worked. And it didn’t overshadow the other aspects and felt natural.
Worldbuilding:The hardest part I had wrapping my brain around was that technology was magic, until humans caught up. It preys on ignorance, praying you don't know how cellphones and such work. Which is rather pathetic and sad when you think about it.
Science geeks or even just the science literate, be prepared to be disappointed. I'd say the same for economics but I don't think anyone really understand that ;)) jk
Economics Link Dump: 1, 2, 3,4
I really, really wish the tech was more advanced to avoid this whole problem. Like having Star Trek replicators and ending scarcity. That's a cause I could get behind using magic for (with the information I know rn) and would meet the "sufficiently advanced" part of the quote.
Cellphones just don't cut it and haven't for a while. 2G cellphones have been around since the 90s and while that may feel like just yesterday, we're talking 20+ years. Should’ve shot for the impossible replicators rather than the improbable humans can’t figure out cellphones.
As it is, it’s simply hand-waved away with Gwen’s head is spinning and her ignorance showing. Her father doesn’t come off well in this scene because he advocates for this ridiculous bit of worldbuilding. It felt wrong preying and counting on her ignorance. I don’t know how else to describe it.
The War:I do understand that this was the first book and had to set everything up so it could grow. Of course it makes sense that in Neverland the war wouldn't be the direct focus, more of an excuse for adventures and that Peter would keep his plans close to the chest. However, I can’t stop wishing there was more.
Especially the magic. It’s the whole point of the war. I NEED to know how this magic works. Are my guesses correct? Can we bring back (view spoiler)[ Santa Claus? Can the poor kids get the fucking presents instead of the rich assholes ruining everything?? Throw us a bone! Of course, I'm not in such a civilized country with social safety nets. OH GODS, Is the USA using magic to bomb places?!? Please tell me America is ignorant on this. PLEASE. (hide spoiler)]
Of course, I found it so damn enjoyable and enchanting I'm not really mad, just frustratingly impatient. While I obviously have ideas on what's happening next from foreshadowing and the genre but the end game? I'm not sure. What would the consequences be if Neverland won or lost? Could they actually come to a compromise? This is where knowing how the magic would both help and hurt.
3.5 Stars: It would've been a solid 4 if not for the weak magical world building. The sequel will go on my TBR as soon as it’s announced.
Other reviews seem to be mixed from hardcore fans and non, so it depends on how you feel towards the original Peter Pan. Besides that, if you're a fan of YA fantasy give it a shot. The fun, the adventures, and the characters made it worthwhile for me. Plus, this is an example of a good love triangle.
Note: Often when reviewing at night, I listen to music. Typically, it’s just my usual jams but for this one it was Melanie Martinez’s Cry Baby. I thought the dark childish themes/sounds would be perfect.