Release Date: September 22, 2015
Synopsis: 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 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.
This is the second fantasy/fairytale retelling that I had such high hopes for, but wound up bitterly disappointed with in the end, although I really enjoyed the first quarter of the book. I think someone’s trying to tell me something.
If you’re a fan of Peter Pan, be warned the Peter in this story is nothing like the charming, albeit at times annoying, Barrie creation. This Peter is egotistical and psychotic, more in keeping with ABC’s Once Upon A Time.
Everyone in Neverland is slavishly devoted to him except for James Hook, who rebels against Peter’s tyranny even when he’s still a Lost Boy. The problem I had with the author’s portrayal of Pan is that he has absolutely no redeeming qualities whatsoever. He’s completely one-dimensional and he’s so unlikeable that it’s difficult to understand everyone’s devotion to him. The whole thing reminded me of a cult.
At first, James comes across as a little more complex and at times quite charming. While drawn to Pan like the others, there’s a part of him that doesn’t quite trust him either. As it turns out, his suspicions are well-founded. Peter ultimately turns on him and betrays him in the worst possible way.
After a few twist and turns, it’s at this point that James starts down that dark path toward his destiny of becoming the infamous Captain Hook.
And helping him on his way is one of the most annoying and kind of creepy love triangles I’ve ever read involving Hook, Pan, and Tiger Lily.
I say creepy because while Tiger Lily ages like Hook, she’s still attracted to Pan who physically anyway, is a young teenage boy. There’s an explanation behind this, but I just didn’t find it believable. I also wound up really disliking Tiger Lily. She’s self-righteous and judgemental with Hook, yet when it comes to Pan she seems to be able to forgive him no matter what he does. I also couldn’t stand what loving her turned Hook into. He went from a fairly self-assured man to one who continually obsessed over whether the object of his affection truly returned his feelings.
I also disliked the book’s underlying message which is that there’s no escaping one’s destiny.
There are many other paths Hook could have chosen, yet he allows his hatred of Pan to rule over him, and thus seals his fate.
What I found most frustrating though is that even after finishing Never Never, I’m not sure as to what age group it’s written for. It starts out as almost a Middle School read, but about halfway in it quickly moves into upper YA territory mainly because of Hook’s and Tiger Lily’s relationship.
If you decide to give Never Never a try, also keep in mind that it can probably be best described as a prequel. The Darling children eventually show up but it’s not until the end, and they add very little to the story.
Overall I wouldn’t recommend this to anyone except die-hard fans of the mythology behind Peter Pan and Hook and enjoy reading different interpretations of the classic story. In my humble opinion though, there are better ones out there such as Alias Hook, by Lisa Jensen, and The Child Thief, by Brom. With this latest incarnation I’m left disappointed because I truly feel it had so much potential that ultimately was left unfulfilled.