Book Review: Second Star by J. M. Sullivan

I love fairy tale retellings.  And a retelling of Peter Pan?  In space?  Written by a J. M.?

I am so there.

J. M. Sullivan does a wonderful job weaving together a jolly jaunt through Neverland, filled to the brim with pop culture Easter eggs for the nerd in us all (ahem, James Tiberius Hooke!). If you like fairy tales, if you like action, if you love a strong female heroine, then you’ll want to read this book.

I love the character of Wendy Darling.  Sullivan does an excellent job weaving together the persona of a dedicated and hardworking Captain with the softer side of motherhood Wendy’s known for.  The result is a strong and complex character, a woman not afraid to fight for her crew while commanding them through the uncharted Neverland wilds.

The character of Pan, likewise, blends together a wonderful combination of cocksure swagger, dashing hero, and a boy who’s never grown up.  It’s a precarious balance, but one that Sullivan masterfully manages.  That balance is mostly seen through his interaction with Tinc, and I love the relationship Sullivan creates between the two.

My main concern was the pacing and build of the story.  The book’s description gives too much away, ruining the build-up by largely summarizing the first half of the book: we know Wendy reaches Neverland, we know the Jolly Roger spent 100 years there, and we realize what the Big Bad is after before we have a chance to learn it for ourselves through reading.  The story, for me, didn’t really begin until after Wendy crash-landed.  I would have loved to have seen Neverland through Wendy’s eyes, to take in the beauty, mystery, and danger all at once, perhaps sharing in Wendy’s sense of overwhelming, rather than spaced out in small servings through Peter’s point of view and braced for when Wendy inevitably arrives.  Similarly, because of the lengthy first half, the point from the crash onward felt rushed and forced, especially with the relationship between Peter and Wendy.  It ended up feeling like they were drawn together because they were Peter-and-Wendy and less because they meshed together well.

Overall though, I loved this book.  It kept me up into the wee hours of the morning, flipping eagerly through to see the stunning conclusion.  I hope J. M. Sullivan continues the story of Peter and Wendy—she has another eager reader if she does!

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