Peter Pan has been everywhere for me lately. I’ve read Tiger Lily. I’ve seen the play. I’ve watched the first three seasons of Once Upon a Time. My son was in our school’s production of Peter Pan last year. I have all this recent Peter Pan experience, but I’ve never read the original story nor seen the Disney animated movie.
Readers do not need a lot of Peter Pan knowledge to know that Captain Hook is Pan’s mortal enemy. But why do they hate each other so much? This book starts out long before Wendy, Michael, and John Darling ever came to Neverland. It starts with a young boy who wants nothing more than to grow up but is robbed of that opportunity by Peter Pan.
AUTHOR: Brianna Shrum
PUBLISHER: Spencer Hill Press
PUBLICATION DATE: September 22, 2015
SOURCE: my library
SETTING: Neverland, time undetermined
GIVE IT TO: upper-MS, HS
SUMMARY: James Hook is twelve when Peter Pan convinces him to visit Neverland for one week. But when James is ready to leave, Peter Pan refuses to take James back home to London. Unlike Peter Pan and the other Lost Boys, James actually wants to grow up. So he does. James resents Peter Pan and hates him for robbing him of his childhood and his loving family. As a result, James, a.k.a. “Captain Hook,” grows up to become the only man in Neverland to truly hate Peter Pan.
REVIEW: I have been on a great book streak lately! The last five or so books I have read have been fantastic, and Never, Never is no exception. I adored James Hook as a tragic hero, and I loved hating that diabolical Peter Pan. Pan was so awful that I found myself rooting for Hook every time he had a chance to kill Peter Pan.
Do not mistake this book for a happy romp through a magical paradise called Neverland. Never, Never is dark and tragic, and plenty of adult activity takes place (for Captain Hook anyway) in the form of boozing and casual sex on an island off the coast of Neverland. James Hook is a brooding character who has morals and is a good person, but he experiences so many setbacks. When a setback occurs, James has a very difficult time getting past it. The loss of his hand is an especially poignant and life-changing moment for James. Readers will see his ultimate downfall coming, and it’s not pretty.
I would love to get to know the backstory for this version of Peter Pan. Why does he not want to grow up? Why does Neverland’s weather and smell fluctuate with Peter Pan’s mood or his absence? How does Pan manage to come and go from Neverland, when no one else can? How old is he really? Was he once a real boy? How did he come to Neverland in the first place?
My only criticism for this book is that it does have some dull, angsty moments. Captain Hook loves to wallow in self-pity. It gets a bit tiring how Hook whines and complains about his life when at least some of the bad things that happen to him are a result of his own poor choices. It’s almost like Hook wants to be miserable just so he can have something to whine about. Anyway, some of those parts get tedious to read, and I found myself skimming in areas in the middle, as well as in the last 25 pages.
THEMES: revenge, hatred, bad choices, self-pity, tragedy
THE BOTTOM LINE: Never, Never is an interesting, unique take on the traditional Peter Pan story. Captain James Hook is especially well-developed. I will have no problem booktalking this and recommending it to students in my library.
STATUS IN MY LIBRARY: We have it. Prior to my reading Never, Never, it had had only one checkout in the year we’ve had it. It’s been 3 days since I finished the book, and a student has already checked it out based on my recommendation. Yay!
- Overall: 4/5
- Creativity: 4/5
- Characters: 4/5
- Engrossing: 4/5
- Writing: 4/5
- Appeal to teens: 5/5
- Appropriate length to tell the story: 5/5
- Language: mild; damn, ass
- Sexuality: medium; debauchery, kissing, appreciation of female body, intercourse (none is descriptive)
- Violence: medium; fantasy violence, murder, severed hand
- Drugs/Alcohol: medium–drunken pirates (rum)