Expected Publication: September 22nd, 2015 by Spencer Hill Press
Source: Won (ARC)
James Hook is a child who only wants to grow up.
When he meets Peter Pan, a boy who loves to pretend and is intent on never becoming a man, James decides he could try being a child—at least briefly. James joins Peter Pan on a holiday to Neverland, a place of adventure created by children’s dreams, but Neverland is not for the faint of heart. Soon James finds himself longing for home, determined that he is destined to be a man. But Peter refuses to take him back, leaving James trapped in a world just beyond the one he loves. A world where children are to never grow up.
But grow up he does.
And thus begins the epic adventure of a Lost Boy and a Pirate.
This story isn’t about Peter Pan; it’s about the boy whose life he stole. It’s about a man in a world that hates men. It’s about the feared Captain James Hook and his passionate quest to kill the Pan, an impossible feat in a magical land where everyone loves Peter Pan.
Never Never is, essentially, a Captain Hook origin story - and more. I can tell you that from what I remember of the Disney movie, Never Never doesn't share that problem that A Whole New World has where basically nothing has changed.
I sympathized with James throughout. He was, of course, tricked by Peter Pan and now he's suddenly trapped in Neverland, pretending to be a Lost Boy while he grows up, defying Peter Pan's #1 rule. My heart ached for him. Especially when he finds himself falling in love with quite the forbidden flower. I knew it was probably a doomed ship but I HAD TO SAIL IT ANYWAYS. A few of their moments together did make me roll my eyes, though.
Never Never is quite a dense book. It felt a lot longer than it appears; James is in his head quite a bit, plotting or angsting and such. I wouldn't say it was super light on dialogue, but there would be pages of internal monologues or descriptions of what was happening, and that made it a little hard sometimes.
In addition, Never Never did feel like it dragged on at times. The fights with Peter Pan could get very repetitive and it often felt like the plot wasn't advancing at all. Beyond the rivalry between Hook and Pan and the forbidden relationship, there didn't always appear to be much else in the way of plot.
I will say, however, that Never Never is filled with emotions. (By which I mean THE FEELS ARE EVERYWHERE.) I couldn't help but feel pity for Peter Pan, who fails to understand the reality of life and forgets everything that he doesn't believe is of consequence to him. James never wanted to be a Lost Boy. As he transforms into the infamous Captain Hook, he crosses lines he never wanted to cross. And the other Lost Boys? EVERYTHING JUST MADE ME SO SAD. And you don't even want to get me started on Tiger Lily. I don't have anything to say that doesn't qualify as a spoiler besides SAD.
I did love the world of Neverland, of course, and felt like the world-building was pretty great, although I do think the details of Neverland could have been more intricate and, well, detailed. Just little things, you know? We got mermaids. We got a magic bar. But it just felt as if something was missing, I guess.
tl;dr: NEVERLAND! PETER PAN! EMOTIONS EVERYWHERE THAT HURT MY SOUL! Plus a kind of slow and dragging plot. Of course, I definitely think this is something that every Peter Pan fan should check out. 3.5 stars.