17 May 2014

Second Star

Author: Alyssa B. Sheinmel
Series: Stand alone (for now)
Genre: Retelling, Mystery, Romance
Publisher: Farrar, Straus and Giroux
Release: 13 May 2014
Summary: A twisty story about love, loss, and lies, this contemporary ocean side 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 Pete's 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 a classic, Second Star is an irresistible summer romance about two young men who have yet to grow up--and the troubled beauty trapped between them.
Review:  I should say something up front: I was one of those little girls obsessed with two (count them two) things when I was little; Peter Pan and The Little Mermaid.  So far in my life I have yet to read a Little Mermaid retelling that I have enjoyed past experiences were so disheartening that I did dare go near any Peter Pan retellings. (Because seriously – some of those Mermaid retelling are just downright awful).  When I read the premise for Second Star and noticed that it takes place at my favorite place (the BEACH) with some of my favorite kinds of people (SURFERS), well, let’s just say it was going to be a recipe for love, or disaster.
We landed about in the middle (but more love than hate – obviously.)


Second Star was beautiful, I loved the imagery, the plot like, the way Sheinmel took the original tale and made it her won.  It was, in my opinion, a darn near perfect retelling – except for one small detail: I kept waiting for the true-blue magic to happen.  I kept thinking; “okay, we’ve set this up – let’s head to Neverland y’all.”  And then I realized: we were already there.
Sheinmel blends the real world with Neverland completely effortlessly.  I’ll admit, by the end I was slightly confused at what was happening – was Wendy crazy?  Like seriously crazy?  What did I just read?  Where are Pete and Jas? I mean – WTH?  Then I thought about it more – and more – and more – and got *it* (don’t judge).  If Peter Pan had taken place with a 17 year old Wendy the outcome would have been exactly the same as it was in the book.  Exactly.  I mean, I was seriously questioning her sanity from the audience perspective; and I didn’t start to question her sanity until after almost ¾ of the book (when she’s found on the beach and nothing is like she remembered.)  I mean, a modern day Wendy Darling would have almost certainly been committed, or put into psycho-therapy (which is what happens).
So how did she end up in Neverland?  Was it all in her head?  Did I even care? No. Not really.  I loved the slow burn of the relationship she had with Pete and Jas respectively.  I loved that it was very clearly explained why she chose Jas over Pete (for grown up reasons – like that he will support her decisions!) I loved that she states, specifically why Pete isn’t right for her (he’s a manipulator and a big fat liar.)  I even enjoyed the “fairy dust” aspect (though truthfully calling it fairy dust was also where I had the hang up – I thought Michael and John had somehow gotten to actual Neverland and Jas and Pete wanted to take Wendy to Neverland too, not that they were actually hardcore drug users.)
I liked the slow devolution of Wendy’s psyche and her drive.  It made me question how I would react if I lost either of my brothers – would I fall down the rabbit hole as far as Wendy did?  Would I go even further?
Even writing this review, new perspectives and ideas are coming to mind.  This book is effortless and beautiful and is the first honest “updated” retelling of a fairytale that I have read and loved.  It takes the characters and places and tone you loved about the original and makes is plausible and real in today’s world. 
The ending sets this up for a possible sequel, though I think it works perfectly as a standalone (I wouldn’t mind a sequel – more Jas?  I WILL TAKE IT!)  I would recommend this to readers who like retellings, beautiful language, fun, contemporary tales, books with a lot of heart, and teen book clubs.

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