Title: The Neverland Wars
Author: Audrey Greathouse
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.
There are many Peter Pan retellings or stories that connect to the main ideas thereof, but The Neverland Wars is probably the most original novel in this section of the genre that I have read. It borrows the concept of Neverland and the magic that makes Neverland tick, and it brings it to reality by mixing it with today’s adults and our societal needs.
“Teenage Dream” played on, but Gwen found herself wondering if skin-tight jeans and sex on the beach really were supposed to be the height of teenage ambition. If that was what teenage dreams were, then what kind of dreams did Gwen have? Before she even made it to school, she turned the music, tired of listening to a woman ten years older than her sing about what it was to be young forever.
The beginning of this novel hit it off for me. I couldn’t put it down and I thought that the writing was witty and realistic. I connected immediately with our main character, Gwen, and how she felt like an old soul when compared to her teenage peers. Her personality is displayed perfectly in the quote above, and that quote is probably one of my favorites in young adult literature now because it is so true. The pace of the book was great, but as soon as the first few chapters passed, the story sped up too quickly and morphed to a childish, unrealistic plot.
That being said, Audrey Greathouse has great potential. Her writing is entertaining, but the way that she moved the story in the direction of humans using Neverland’s magic for themselves ended up being silly and unrealistic when it could have been presented better. It seemed as though her characters weren’t taking the situation seriously, and because of that, I didn’t either. Gwen also changed from the thoughtful teenager demonstrated above, to another whiny teenager who I came to dislike by the end of the novel. I didn’t find myself rooting for the characters like I had in the beginning, and that was a let down for me. If this novel and its plot were reexamined to fix the inconsistencies of the characters, I am sure that it would win me back over. That being said, there are many quotes that I do love in this novel and will be keeping, but the plot and characters just slid downhill as the story went on. The Neverland Wars has a great premise for a story, and while I am sure that younger adults will adore it, it just wasn’t for me.
Whatever happens, we love each other. And that’s more important than magic.
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