*I received an ecopy of this book via NetGalley. This has not influenced my review.*
Oh I just loved this book! It seemed to be based on the original, which I appreciated, but it was touching rather than dark. And I liked so many things that I’m just going to make a semi-list so that I can talk about all of them!
First of all, a transgender main character! That’s hard to find in fantasy.
Second, a romance between Peter and Hook! Hook (from the original) is one of my favorite characters, so I was super excited to see him portrayed in a good way and made into the love interest. And I also have been wanting more LGBT retellings.
Third, I loved these versions of both Peter and Hook. This version of Peter still retained some of the darker aspects of the original, like his cruelty and love for killing/fighting and inability to understand the difference between real and make-believe while on the island, but he wasn’t like that while in the real world, and he also matured and had a lot of growth over the course of the story. And this version of Hook was so sassy and a little flamboyant but also sweet and is now also one of my favorite characters.
Everything about Hook seemed a little frivolous, yet perhaps that was the point of it. He was such a dastardly villain that he could stand to do everything in twice as many ruffles as the next man.
Fourth, I love the intimate feel in stories when two characters are forced to spend time together alone, just the two of them, and there was a whole section of this book when Peter and Hook were trapped together, so I loved that whole section.
Fifth, the scene when they first moved into romance was amazing! (They got a little hot and heavy, but there was no sex and nothing too explicit.) I could really feel all that tension and attraction and pleasure and whatnot between them.
Sixth, I really liked the emotional struggles that came up. For Peter it was his gender dysphoria and finally feeling like himself but also kind of feeling like he was just borrowing a body that wasn’t his while in Neverland. For Hook is was *SPOILER ALERT* remembering his real life, who he really was, and the reason he came to Neverland and realizing that he just ran away from his problems and grief instead of dealing with them. He didn’t even know how long he’d been there in Neverland, but he knew he didn’t want to forget his life again. *END SPOILER ALERT*
Seventh, there was even disability since Hook was an amputee! Ok, it wasn’t exactly a big part of the story, but still, I always like to mention disability representation.
“You should have bandaged it,” Peter said. “Why didn’t you?”
“For one thing, I don’t have a bandage. For another, why didn’t I secure a bandage around my shoulder by matchlight with one hand and a hook?” Hook arched his eyebrows. “I wonder.”
Last but not least, I thought the book had such an interesting take on Neverland. *SPOILER ALERT* The island was real, in a sense, but it was also a fantasy/dream for anyone who ran away to it, something they had partial control over. So the Lost Boys and the pirates weren’t real, they were just figments of Peter and Hook’s imaginations, things they both made up when they ran away because of what they craved (Peter wanted to fit in and be accepted and play as a boy, Hook wanted his lover back, they both wanted adventure and had fun fighting each other). *END SPOILER ALERT*
My only complaint is that the book was so short, more like a novella than a full novel, and because of that the romance was a bit rushed. But the book still felt complete and satisfying, and I don’t think either man ever used the word love, plus they both understood each other in a way no one else ever would because of their shared Neverland experience, so I was able to accept it and I can’t complain too much. But still, I would’ve loved to read more about these characters.
So overall, even though it was a quick read, I loved the characters and the romance and the whole story and thought this book was super sweet and a great Peter Pan inspired story!
Ten years ago, Peter Pan left Neverland to grow up, leaving behind his adolescent dreams of boyhood and resigning himself to life as Wendy Darling. Growing up, however, has only made him realize how inescapable his identity as a man is.
But when he returns to Neverland, everything has changed: the Lost Boys have become men, and the war games they once played are now real and deadly. Even more shocking is the attraction Peter never knew he could feel for his old rival, Captain Hook—and the realization that he no longer knows which of them is the real villain.