Tuesday, September 14, 2010

Peter and Starcatchers

Ok, I can’t review this Peter Pan prequel without first mentioning my complete and total dislike of the book Peter Pan.  I read Peter Pan a few years ago and was left disappointed and down right angry.  I found Peter unlikable; he was spoiled and self-centered, and what was worse was that Barrie explained this behavior as how a normal child would act.  Then, all the most exciting adventures they went on were mentioned as a sentence in passing.  I honestly thought I might be reading an abridged copy, but nothing I could find indicated that.  My takeaway message of the book, though, was that as you grow up you stop believing in dreams, and I found that just sad. 

I could continue to rant about Peter Pan, but this is a review of Peter and the Starcatchers.  I was honestly unsure about reading this book, but I was going on vacation to Disney World and looking for a book to take with me that fit with the whole Disney theme, and this was my best option.  I am so glad I chose it.

This is more than the story of how a young orphaned boy named Peter became the legendary Peter Pan.  It is even more than the story of a how a pirate called Black Stache became the infamous Captain Hook or how Mollusk Island becomes the enchanted island known as Neverland. 

This is about Peter’s very first adventure, as he and 4 other orphans are taken from their orphanage and placed on a boat heading to a far away country where their fate is uncertain.  On the ship, he meets a young girl named Molly who is an apprentice to an organization that protects starstuff, a mysterious substance that falls from the sky, from an evil organization called the Others and returns it to those it belongs to.  Since Molly is the only member of her organization on the ship, she enlists Peter in helping her protect it from all those who want to take it for themselves.

Unlike in the original book, I found this Peter very likeable.  He doesn’t follow the rules, he has a bit of an attitude and he has a very good heart.  Peter tries his best to help others and do what needs to be done, though he sometimes acts impulsively.  Molly is a good girl who has issues trying to decide whether her mission protecting the starstuff is more important than Peter and his friends.

The narrative of this book goes back and forth between Peter, Molly, Black Stache (the pirate), and Slank (the second in command of the ship Peter is on).  The fluctuation between narrators works surprisingly well.  Even though you know what both sides are planning at times, you can never guess how it’ll turn out and other times they purposely don’t tell you what a character is doing so that they can show up and surprise you.  I’ll admit that Black Stache and Slank do use more adult language and talk about adult situation, but it’s always more like they hint at it.  They tell you just enough that adults know what they mean, but most children probably won’t get all of it (they won’t be lost, just not read into it what is being hinted at). 

This was a very well thought out story.  Even though we know many of these characters all ready, the story manages to keep us guessing on how they get from the start of this book to the people we know that they become.  At times I found myself asking “is this when that happens” but of course it usually wasn’t.  They found a masterful way of weaving a unique plot with the “birth” of classic characters.  Loved it and can’t wait to read the rest of the books.


  1. I really liked this novel too. I read it about four years and was sucked into the story. Peter Pan is one of my favorite characters-- though like you I didn't love the book but I did love all the movie adaptations (especially the 2004 one) so I gave this book a try. You basically summed up most of my feelings. I love the four people who narrated the story and thought it was really interesting seeing how Peter Pan and Neverland came to be. Thanks for the wonderful review!

  2. I actually checked this book out from the library hoping my kids would enjoy it... they wouldn't crack it open. I decided to read it before returning it and LOVED it! I was telling my 12 year old son about the characters and story.... next thing you know, I can't find the book because he is all snuggled up with it! I was finally able to enjoy the rest of it before my 11 yr old grabbed it... now everyone's hiding out trying to read the next two without someone swiping it. Very enjoyable book!