I received this book for free from NetGalley in exchange for an honest review. This does not affect my opinion of the book or the content of my review.
The Neverland Wars by Audrey Greathouse
Release date: May 9th, 2016
Publisher: Clean Teen Publishing
Genres: Young Adult, Fantasy
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.
While promoted as a Peter Pan retelling, this book is more of an extension or reboot of the Peter Pan story. Actually, Peter Pan himself isn’t even the focus, which was alright with me. Instead, it revolves around Gwen and her fear of growing older. She needs to decide if becoming an adult is worth all the stress and pain, but in the process, she finds herself front and centre in a battle between our world and Neverland.
I loved Gwen! She was such a fantastically written character and I could really relate to her. Being an adult is hard and I totally understood her fear of growing older. Essentially, this book is a story of a girl easing into womanhood and finding herself along the way. As much as I loved Gwen, I found that the others characters fell a bit flat. I wanted to get to know them better, but they just kind of got lost in the story and especially the conflict between reality and Neverland. I especially wanted more from Peter Pan. What was he thinking? How did he feel? So much as changed for him and in a way he was also going through an inner struggle. Over the years of traveling from Neverland and our world he had aged. He’s no longer a boy, but a teenager. The topic of his aging is kind of addressed, but like so much of this book, it only skimmed the surface. I definitely could have done with more depth.
The author’s writing style was quite fun and perfect for the dreamy, magical world described in the story. It was very descriptive and did a great job feeding into the world I had already imagined due to the fact that I was obsessed with Peter Pan when I was little. I couldn’t get enough of the story or the Disney movie! The only issue I had with the writing was how sometimes I seemed very mature only to slip up, read uncharacteristically immature and then switch back again.
If you like retellings or enjoyed the Peter Pan story growing up, this would definitely be a good book to read. I had fun reading it and thought the idea behind it was creative, but it didn’t have the certain elements that I feel make a really good or even excellent book. I wish it had more depth to the characters and their inner struggles instead of focus on the war between reality and fantasy.