Book Review: Never, Never by Brianna Shrum

Book Review: Never, Never by Brianna ShrumNever, Never by Brianna Shrum
Published by Spencer Hill Press on September 22, 2015
Genres: Fantasy, Romance, Young Adult
Pages: 368
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James Hook is a child who only wants to grow up.

When he meets Peter Pan, a boy who loves to pretend and is intent on never becoming a man, James decides he could try being a child—at least briefly. James joins Peter Pan on a holiday to Neverland, a place of adventure created by children’s dreams, but Neverland is not for the faint of heart. Soon James finds himself longing for home, determined that he is destined to be a man. But Peter refuses to take him back, leaving James trapped in a world just beyond the one he loves. A world where children are to never grow up.

But grow up he does.

And thus begins the epic adventure of a Lost Boy and a Pirate.

This story isn’t about Peter Pan; it’s about the boy whose life he stole. It’s about a man in a world that hates men. It’s about the feared Captain James Hook and his passionate quest to kill the Pan, an impossible feat in a magical land where everyone loves Peter Pan.

Except one.

I feel like the more Peter Pan adaptations and retellings I read, the less I like the boy who won’t grow up. I used to love him, and still do occasionally (the Disney incarnations of him, at least).

Never, Never is about James Hook, and I was intrigued to read the story from his point of view. Unfortunately, I found Hook to be whiny, incredibly childish (even though the entire point of the story is that he couldn’t keep from growing up) and wholly unlikable (except for the rare scenes in the middle that were sweet with Tiger Lily). I could understand his whininess at the beginning, since we start out seeing him as a child, but as the book went on he hardly grew at all. He only became more glum.

I think one of the main reasons I didn’t like this book was everything felt so terribly shallow. It was all on the surface. Nothing was developed enough. And the plot pretty much consisted of the following: Cool Neverland description, fight with Peter Pan, I love Tiger Lily, I hate Peter Pan, Fight with Peter Pan, Make out with Tiger Lily, fight with Peter Pan, I hate Peter Pan. It got old so incredibly quickly. And can we talk about how many of the scenes were almost exact copies of Peter Pan scenes from other adaptations, or even the original itself? I know that when you’re re-telling a classic, you want to keep many of the scenes the same, especially the well known ones, but there should have been a drastic difference, since we were seeing it from Hook’s perspective. Instead, it felt like the exact same scenes I’d seen or read many times before, except in this version, I didn’t like any of the characters.

Tiger Lily. Let’s talk about her for a moment. She was probably the closest thing to a likable character in this book for me (aside from maybe Smee or Starkey, but they were hardly important enough). I really liked the idea of her relationship with Hook. It’s sweet. But his whiny, sullenness ruined it for me. I didn’t really understand why she liked him. And Tiger Lily is extremely two-dimensional. She’s a pretty girl, who can like, hunt, I guess. We don’t really know anything else about her.

To be fair, I did LOVE the idea that because Tiger Lily is a creation of Peter Pan, she is irrevocably tied to him, no matter how hard she tries to not be. In fact, the whole island is like this. There’s no rhyme or reason as to why, except that Peter is truly the master of Neverland, and everything bends to him without reason. This made for some interesting conflict whenever Hook tries to hurt or kill Peter, there is always a force either holding him back or causing him to regret his plans. I found this to be a very interesting addition to the world building.

And that brings us to Peter. Poor Peter Pan. He is a little hellion. And so terribly unlikable. It makes sense, being a complete narcissist, and since everything in Neverland bends to him, as I said before, his ego is catered to without question. And I get it, Peter is the antagonist, we’re not supposed to like him. But if we’re not supposed to like Peter, you should make Hook more likable.

If you love Peter Pan retellings where Peter is painted as the villain, I think you’ll find this interesting. I just wanted more all around, and I found it to be lacking. I hope you have better luck than I.

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