I received this book for free from the Publisher via NetGalley in exchange for an honest review. This does not affect my opinion of the book or the content of my review.Second Star by Alyssa B. Sheinmel
Published by Macmillan on 2014-05-13
Genres: Fairy Tales & Folklore, Retelling, Young Adult
Source: the Publisher via NetGalley
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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.
Second Star started out very strongly for me. I was beginning to wonder if I was reading the same book as everyone who was rating the book so poorly. And then I got to the part. About 50% into the book everything started to turn for me. From that moment on, I was just struggling to get through. I really wish the story had gone differently, but it didn’t. So, unfortunately, I won’t recommend this book.
Second Star is about Wendy, a recent high school graduate whose surfer brothers (John and Michael) went missing last year. For a while there was a search for them, as if they were runaways. But after a few months their boards are found washed up near a beach with dangerous waves and the police declare the brothers dead. But Wendy is convinced that her brothers are alive and is determined to find them. On her search she runs into Pete, a boy living on his own with a bunch of other kids. They steal food when they need it and surf everyday. Wendy is convinced Pete and the boys know something about her brothers. So she stays with them. The story progresses from there and we get to meet Belle (Tinkerbelle) and Jas (aka the Captain Hook character) and the lost boys and see how Wendy works to find her brothers.
I was really impressed with how the story started. I honestly wasn’t sure what to think of this book beforehand both because it was a Peter Pan retelling and because some of the reviews I’d read had very poor ratings for it. So when I started the book and then really started to feel for Wendy, I was wondering if we had all been reading the same book. Wendy’s sadness for her brothers felt so raw and how her parents reacted to their loss and how they retreated into themselves felt so real. Wendy seemed so lost and her emotions made me sympathize with her. I wanted her parents and her friends to believe her. I really wanted her to be able to find her brothers and return her family to the way it had been.
But I started to feel like the book was taking a turn for the worst when Wendy meets Peter and stays with him that night. There is a sort of insta-love connection between them and then they make-out and see falls asleep while they’re kissing. That moment was weird for me but no one else took much notice of it so I brushed it off. From then on, Wendy is drawn to Pete and is also convinced that being with him will help her find her brothers. While she’s living with Pete, Belle and the boys, she learns how to surf and becomes quite comfortable with the freedom of their lifestyle. But she also realizes that she must continue to move forward. When she goes to Jas to see what he knows about her brothers, things really went downhill for me. The decisions Wendy makes while she’s around Jas are terrible. And she makes them super quickly without even considering some kind of alternative/better choice. She makes a quick justification for her choices and moves on. The story goes off on a weird (to me) tangent at that point and I couldn’t get on board with anything after that.
This book started off so promising for me. I really felt for Wendy and wished she could go out searching for her brothers and help put her family back together. The writing was beautiful and I was confused where all of the negative reviews were coming from. But then there was insta-love. And then there were weird choices made by the MC. And then there was Jas. I wasn’t a fan of any of those things. The second half of the story was just a mess for me. In all honesty, Peter Pan was never my favorite fairy tale, but I really would have hoped for more of an enjoyable story from a retelling. I’m sure some people out there will enjoy this, but it really was not for me.