Second Star by Alyssa B. Sheinmel
(Description nicked from B&N.com.)
“A twisty story about love, loss, and lies, this contemporary oceanside adventure is tinged with a touch of dark magic as it follows seventeen-year-old Wendy Darling on a search for her missing surfer brothers. Wendy’s journey leads her to a mysterious hidden cove inhabited by a tribe of young renegade surfers, most of them runaways like her brothers. Wendy is instantly drawn to the cove’s charismatic leader, Pete, but her search also points her toward his nemesis, the drug-dealing Jas. Enigmatic, dangerous, and handsome, Jas pulls Wendy in even as she’s falling hard for Pete. A radical reinvention of J. M. Barrie’s classic tale, Second Star is an irresistible summer romance about two young men who have yet to grow up—and the troubled beauty trapped between them.”
This is one of those books that sounds so full of promise when you read the synopsis. Taking the classic Peter Pan and transplanting it into the surfer culture is a bold choice that had a lot of potential. Anybody who’s been to a beach has probably seen the surfer equivalent of the “lost boys”, those who follow the waves and never think about tomorrow. And yet the author really doesn’t succeed in making the story and the setting mesh.
While I admit that my knowledge of the original Peter Pan stories is a bit sketchy, I do have a general idea of the events of those books. As a result, I feel confident in saying that there’s very little of the original in this story, and thus there’s really none of the magic here either. A big deviation is that John and Michael, Wendy’s younger brothers, are never in the novel—readers only know them through Wendy’s memory instead of her interactions with them. Also, the classic Wendy didn’t seek out Peter Pan, instead encountering him when he comes to her window to hunt for his shadow.
Although I think the surfer culture could have blended well with this story, it has the disadvantage of being tied strongly into the here-and-now. Surfing is very physical activity, and this story’s “lost boys” have descended to the level of common thievery and squatting in order to support their lifestyle. Not much about that evokes the fantastical. In fact, that aspect comes more from the Captain Hook character, Jas, with his drugs and anything-goes parties.
In addition to the setting and story not meshing well, the characters seem to resemble their classic counterparts in name only. Yes, Peter heads a band of runaways, and yes, Jas engages in an illegal lifestyle, but that’s about the extent of it. Wendy’s strong maternal aspect only stretches to trying to give the kids food and shelter, and not to guiding their moral compasses.
This idea had promise, but the execution was severely lacking. Second Star gave it a valiant effort, but in the end it fell flat.
Publisher: Macmillan Teen
Page Count: 256
Publication Date: May 13, 2014
Acquired: Provided by the publisher as an e-ARC through NetGalley
Read an excerpt