Book Review: The Neverland Wars

The Neverland Wars
Publisher: Clean Teen Publishing
Publication Date: 9 May 2016
Page Count: 302
Buy it at Barnes & Noble or Amazon
Source: e-book provided by author
Audience: Young Adult - Fairy Tales/Fantasy

Never have you read a story quite like The Neverland Wars. It's a magical story filled with everything we loved about the original Peter Pan stories. You have Peter, the fairies, the mermaids, the crocodile, and more. The story, however, is set in modern day times, so many years have passed since Wendy, John, and Michael, and the great battles with Captain Hook.

Gwen is just your average 16-year-old girl, who's not ready to grow up and become an adult, but also knows she's no longer a kid, free and innocent from the world's hardships. One night her eight-year-old sister, Rosemary, goes missing, and strange cops come to the door, but they're not like regular police. They deal in crimes that involve magic. All of the sudden, Gwen realizes all the fairy tales she read as a kid are real, magic really does exist, and her sister was "abducted" by none other that Peter Pan, himself.  A few nights later, Rosemary and Peter come back for Gwen, Rosemary saying Gwen is a fabulous storyteller and still a kid as well. Peter is surprised by how old Gwen is, but still takes her to Neverland with them. There Gwen finds herself having one adventure after another, experiencing each one just a little differently than she would have had she been younger, but still just as thrilling and exciting. She meets and swims with the mermaids, flies with the fairies, slides down hollowed out tree trunks to Peter and the Lost Children's home, meets the redskins, runs from a crocodile, and explores an old pirate ship. But soon Gwen realizes that everything is not always so carefree because the adults of the real world that know about Neverland and the magic want to hoard it all for themselves. They want to use it for technological advances, medical treatments, the stock market, and think that it should not be in the hands of children, who would only waste it on nonsensical things. And they will do anything to get it away from them, including bombing the island that is Neverland, not caring who they hurt. Gwen must make a hard decision in the end, rejoin her normal, regular life of reality, or help Peter in the war that is coming.

I loved this story, it was such an intriguing read. You get so much from it that is reminiscent of the original Peter Pan story, but as it's in the present day and age, everything is just slightly different: the pirates are gone, Tinkerbell is gone, the redskins tribe is much smaller, Peter is a bit older. But you find that you don't miss those aspects because there is still so much to take in. You meet more than one fairy, and they each are unique in their characters.

In fact, all the characters are extremely well written. Each lost child is unique and memorable in their own way, as are the fairies, the mermaids, and the redskins. Even Gwen's friends and love interest in the real world are fun and easily remembered. Sometimes, I find that authors struggle to separate characters, make them unique and memorable when there are so many, but Audrey Greathouse doesn't have that problem. She has written them each with their own personalities and quirks, and I love each and every one.

I love the idea of seeing Neverland through Gwen's eyes. She's at that age where she's not quite an adult, but no longer a child, so she sees Neverland with different eyes that just a child or just an adult would. You see the inner struggle she goes through daily living in Neverland, the responsible part wrestling with the carefree, uninhibited part of her.

There were a few moments where I found myself confused while reading. Not from anything going on in the story, but for the writing itself. There were a few times where it was almost like the author couldn't decide what word to use or which character she was talking about, or maybe she changed her mind, or maybe it was written that way for a reason, I don't know. One example is a paragraph that starts, "It is an inescapable truth that eEvery fairy in Neverland wasis terribly afflicted terribly with one vice. On all other counts, the fairies wereare generally good and noble creatures, but each one hads one failing, one Achilles' heel within their moral fiber." Those sentences need some work. Other than that, and another where "PeterSal" is written (thinking it was only supposed to be Peter or Sal, one of the Lost Children), and a few grammatical errors, the book is actually very well written, very engaging.

The imagery of Neverland is beautiful, and I would love to visit there and see all the unique flora and fauna. I think there is still enough kid and imagination in me that I could fly with a sprinkling of fairy dust. I can so easily imagine the Mermaid Lagoon, or the old, wrecked pirate ship, the fort made up of brilliantly colored cloths, and the underground home where Peter and the Lost Children live.

The story line was really, very unique and fun to read. To imagine what would happen if the real world got their hands on fairy tale magic, and used it for boring, adult stuff; it was interesting and makes you stop and think about it. This is one of those books that makes you hate the human race, but in this case it's just the adults that want to suck the imagination out of their children, keep them grounded in reality, so they don't realize what they could do with actual, real magic. It's heartbreaking, and of course, you are going to side with the kids in this war.

The book definitely leaves you with a cliff hanger and I hope the next story in the series is out soon. I cannot wait to continue reading about the adventures Gwen and her sister, Rosemary, along with Peter and other fairy tale characters find themselves in.

One Last Thought: It was so frustrating reading about Gwen going back to the real world, not to help fight the adults trying to harness all the magic for themselves, but just to live her life. She'd seen the things that the adults were willing to do, places destroyed, not caring who got hurt, yet she seemed more than willing to go back to that world and let it happen. I wanted her to go back to help the magic users and kids. This by no means, is a spoiler of the story. It is implied throughout.

Favorite Thing About this Book: I love the idea that you're never too old to believe in magic. Yes there are adults that don't believe, or do believe, but are fighting to harness it for their own purposes; but there are also those who believe in the good of it, who just let it be, and in a way keeps them childlike forever.

First Sentence: The evening was still bright and young when the music started.

Favorite Character: There were so many great characters in this book. I loved all the Lost Children, each with such a different personality, Peter Pan, the mermaids, the redskins, even Gwen and her friends. They were all wonderfully written.

Least Favorite Character: The adult humans who insist on hoarding the magic and hurting the fairy tale characters to get it.

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.