Monday, August 26, 2013
Book Review: Another Pan (The Marlowe School #2) by Daniel & DIna Nayeri
Published September 2010 by Candlewick Press
About the Book:
Sixteen-year-old Wendy Darling and her insecure freshman brother, John, are hitting the books at the Marlowe School. But one tome consumes their attention: THE BOOK OF GATES, a coveted Egyptian artifact that their professor father believes has magical powers. Soon Wendy and John discover that the legend is real—when they recite from its pages and descend into a snaking realm beneath the Manhattan school. As the hallways darken, and dead moths cake the floor, a charismatic new R.A. named Peter reveals that their actions have unleashed a terrible consequence: the underworld and all its evil is now seeping into Marlowe. Daniel Nayeri and Dina Nayeri return to reimagine Peter Pan as a twisty, atmospheric, and fast-paced fantasy about the perils of immortality.
I hate to give any book a low rating - I know what it takes to actually finish a manuscript and get it through the process of becoming a book.
I gave this book a one-star rating last week on Goodreads. (cringe!) (And I'm not sure it deserved one star.)
I want to warn anyone who picks this up thinking it'll be a cool retelling of the Peter Pan legend we all know and love. If you like/love/know-at-all the story of Peter Pan, you will be disappointed in this book and the characters Mr. Nayeri has turned them into.
I did read this whole book, and I kept waiting for it to redeem itself. It never did.
First let me say I didn't have a problem with the Egyptian curse twist to the storyline, or some of the added plot twists like Mrs. Darling having run off with a grad student. Or the modern day setting in an exclusive New York prep school. I had a little bit of a problem with the writing style itself as it seemed over-written and old fashioned.
My biggest problem with this story is that there isn't a single likeable character, and that Mr. Nayeri took well-loved, time-tested characters and totally ignored why they were likeable.
Wendy is supposed to be a strong, independent spirit, the embodiment of early girl power. The author has made her into a 16-year-old girl who doesn't know her own heart, who questions the motives and feelings of everyone around her as well as her own, and who is so self-absorbed in her own internal drama that she's totally unlikeable.
Her little brother John is smart, but also so totally self-absorbed and starved for "popularity" that he can't connect with anyone. His lame attempts at making friends with the cardboard cutouts of popular kids don't ring true in the slightest.
And Peter. He is painted as a selfish, bossy, dictatorial leader of a world-wide organization of miscreant "LBs" or Lost Boys - who steal, cheat, and create all kinds of major crime around the globe. He's an underworld crime lord with no redeeming qualities. He has no fun in his soul, nor any sparkle in his eye. And his sidekick, the feisty but unmagical "Tina" is an extremely poor stand-in for Tinkerbell.
I kept thinking, At least there will be redeeming romance. Nope. At least Peter will do the right thing in the end. Nope. At least someone will realize something that will change their life or their character. Another big nope.
There are other Peter Pan books out there that are better retellings. Find one of those. Or read the original. Save yourself the heartache of this disappointing story.