Author: Wendy Spinale
Info: Scholastic Press, copyright 2016, 320 pages
Forget the story of Peter Pan you know. Because in Everland, the only way to grow up is to survive.
London has been destroyed in a blitz of bombs and disease. The only ones who have survived are children, among them Gwen Darling and her siblings, Joanna and Mikey. They spend their nights scavenging and their days avoiding the ruthless Marauders -- the German Army led by Captain Hanz Otto Oswald Kretschmer.
Unsure if the virus has spread past England's borders but desperate to leave, Captain Hook hunts for a cure, which he thinks can be found in one of the survivors. He and his Marauders stalk the streets snatching children for experimentation. None ever return. Until the day they grab Joanna. As Gwen sets out to save her, she meets a mysterious boy named Pete. Pete offers the assistance of his gang of Lost Boys and the fierce sharpshooter Bella, who have all been living in a city hidden underground. But in a place where help has a steep price and every promise is bound by blood, it will cost Gwen. And are she, Pete, the Lost Boys, and Bella enough to outsmart Captain Hook?
I've made no secret out of the fact that Peter Pan retellings are some of my favorites at the moment. At the end of last year I read Tiger Lily by Jodi Lynn Anderson and back in February I got my hands on Unhooked by Lisa Maxwell. Peter was not a nice guy in the original tale, but these new adaptations have often shined him in a different light, a more compassionate light, and that's quite alright by me.
Wendy Spinale's "Peter Pan" is a steampunk(ish) adventure set in a war-tortured, plague-ridden London. German forces have invaded the city and unwittingly released a deadly plague that has killed almost all adults and most of the child population. Captain Hanz Otto Oswald Kretschmer is leading the charge to find the remaining children in hopes of discovering a cure before returning to the German Queen with his tail between his legs. His conquering of London did not quite go as planned. Gwen, along with her sister Joanna and brother Mikey, have become scavengers, surviving in an abandoned buildings and living off whatever food Gwen can find on her nightly trips into the city, trying not to get captured by Hook's Marauders. Then she meets Pete, the brave and loyal leader of the Lost Boys who have built a city of their own underground. When Joanna is taken by the Marauders, Pete agrees to do the impossible, and help Gwen get her back.
There's so much else going on. The story alternates between Gwen and Hook. Hook is not as power-driven has he appears on the surface. He really just wants to find the cure and get out of dodge. He is more of a Lost Boy than he would ever admit, wishing he had had the love of his mother and step-father, but instead sent on a fool's errand. Gwen resents having to grow up too quickly, but she does was needs to be done to care for her younger sister and brother. She falls for Pete a little too quickly, and the story progresses at such a quick pace that character development is sacrificed a bit for plot.
Regardless, it's a fun take on the original tale. Spinale carefully and creatively weaves the familiar into this new setting. Gwen as Wendy; Bella as Tinkerbell (who has mechanized wings she wears); Joanna as John; and so on. The Lost Boys each have fun nicknames and somehow Hook has crocodiles named Tick and Tock at his disposal for torture. Are there crocodiles in England? Hmmm....
A fun summer read. And coolest of all - it seems to be a stand-alone title :)