Tuesday, April 8, 2014

Title: Second Star
Author: Alyssa B. Sheinmel
Series: n/a
Publisher: Farrar, Straus and Giroux (BYR)
Publication Date: May 13, 2014
Source: from publisher via Netgalley
Purchase: Amazon | Barnes & Noble

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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 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.



I love a good fairy-tale retelling as much as the next girl, but still I go into each one with some amount of trepidation. What if the author butchers one of my favorite characters from my childhood? What if the story is too close to the original to stand on its own? What if the story is so vastly different from the original story that it doesn't feel like a retelling at all? These questions and many others are what I find myself pondering before picking up any book based on a beloved story from my childhood.

Second Star is a Peter Pan retelling. But most of the time, I forgot that fact while I was reading. The most obvious aspect making this a retelling is the fact that neither of the boys that Wendy meets -- while in her search for her lost brothers -- wants to grow up. Pete (Peter, obvs) is the sweet and caring leader of a group of surfers, squatting in a house on the cliffs of the California coast. Jas (Hook) is the mysterious drug-dealing counterpart to Pete's rag-tag gang of surfers. Oh, and Belle (Tinkerbell, again, obvs) is there to keep Wendy from falling for Pete. (Or, rather, to keep Wendy and Pete from getting together because I don't think there's really a possibility of keeping Wendy from falling for Pete.) So, as far as characters go, it sounds pretty similar, right?

No...not really. When it says a "radical reinvention" up there in the summary, it means it. "Neverland" is a beach cove. The Jolly Roger is a seedy bar. Fairy dust is the drug Jas is peddling to his fellow surfers. Jas/Hook actually might not be the villain we've been led to believe. And Wendy's brothers, surfers themselves, may be gone for good.

I liked the idea of Pan and Hook vying for the affections of Wendy Darling. And I should have known that I'd fall for the not-so-evil Hook myself. I always fall for the guy I'm not supposed to like. Such is life, though the fact that Jas might have been the only one interested in helping Wendy find her lost brothers might have something to do with that. But never did I dare to dream that Wendy might actually waver between the two surfers herself. The thing is, though...this Wendy's not the Wendy from the original story either. She's grieving the loss of her brothers. She's making rash decisions, leading to one mistake after another. This Wendy is not the responsible mothering type. Except that this instinct does seem to kick in for her at times, like when she grilled dinner for all the Lost Boys.

There were hints of the original story, as different as this retelling was, and it was enough for me to enjoy the story overall. I wish I could say that I didn't see that ending coming, but I did...no matter how much I was hoping for a different outcome. It's one of those ambiguous, WTF did I just read kind of endings, and honestly, it left me more than a little disappointed. I probably would have rated the book higher if not for that because I was really having fun with the story up to that point, confusing as it was.

GIF it to me straight:
Confusing, wondrous & frustrating.
Felt like I was flying in circles myself for much of the book.


About the author:

I was born in Stanford, California, and even though I moved across the country to New York when I was six years old, I still think of myself as a California girl.

Like so many writers, I grew up loving books. I loved stories so much that when there was nothing to read, I wrote my own stories just to give myself something to read. And when there was no pen and paper to be had, I made up stories and acted them out by myself. I played all the parts, and I was never bored.

Find Alyssa:

WebsiteTwitter | Goodreads


27 comments:

  1. I was never a fan of Peter Pan and it looks like this book might make me know more about him. Was the ending that disappointing, or it is still worth reading? I added this on my TBR pile and now I am having second thoughts.

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    1. It's an interesting retelling, but if you're a fan of HEAs, you probably won't be satisfied with the ending for this one. I like open endings, myself, but I think it was the way in which this one was left open that left me disappointed.

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  2. I actually haven't read a lot of Peter Pan retellings, so this concept is intriguing. But the love triangle element turned me away, so I didn't choose to read this. Also the fact of what happens in the end in the original. I'm not sure what the conclusion here is, but I doubt it's a big HEA, which I'm also a fan of. I'm not sure what I think of the Wendy in this book, as it sounds like she's one of the most altered characters, though it makes sense that she'd be off kilter after losing her brothers.

    I like your discussion about what makes a retelling, and the best way to write one. I prefer retellings that take the spirit of the original and make something new out of it. But you're right, there's a danger of going too far from the original and being unrecognizable. Or being too close to it, so that the details seem repetitive and only put in to fulfill the original tale. Stories like Beauty and the Beast are great for retellings because they're more about an idea, and you can retell them in a large variety of ways and still see a sliver of the original. Thanks for this honest review!

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    1. I've only read Tiger Lily besides this one, I think. And both made me sad. I actually really enjoyed this story as a retelling, but there were other elements of the story that left something to be desired, though I wouldn't consider the love triangle or Wendy's behavior to be on that list.

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  3. Ooh, you had me there at Peter Pan retelling. I've been a lover of Peter Pan since Tiger Lily.
    But sad to hear that this book didn't really feels like a retelling and that the ending was disappointing Maybe I'll try this someday, but not soon.
    Anyway, thanks for sharing!

    Neysa @ Papier Revue

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    1. Actually, for me, it DID work as a retelling because it kept some elements from the original story but changed them enough that they fit this modern-day retelling. I'm trying to decide if I liked it better than Tiger Lily, but I think I liked both retellings about the same, though each for different reasons.

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  4. When I see books based on a beloved fairy tale (Alice in Wonderland, Peter Pan, Wizard of Oz), I always say that the author of said book has such balls. I think it's quite an undertaking, and leaves them open to criticism even more so than those who penned an original plot. This book is quite interesting, though. I think I'm going to give it a go, anyway.

    Thanks for the wonderful review, Jen!

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    1. I agree...it definitely takes some balls to take someone else's beloved story and try to make it your own. I liked Second Star, don't get me wrong, but it felt like a race against time that didn't quite pan out as I expected. It's definitely worth a read, but it's not breaking any new ground, as far as retellings go.

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  5. I was curious to see what Peter Pan people thought of this...

    I've never read Peter Pan or saw any of the films. To me it read as a dark contemporary until I finally caught onto the whole Peter Pan tie-in (about 2/3 through the book... whoops!). I think this fact helped me in the end because it became more about loss with a side of psych issues :/

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    1. I could totally understand reading it for what it is as opposed to a retelling if you didn't know any better. It's a very liberal retelling, to be sure.

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  6. I think I almost always like the IDEA of a re-telling more than I actually like them. I do plan on reading this one--and I think it sounds pretty interesting--but I hate it when the ending falls off the deep end. I'll lower my expectations a bit when reading this one. Great review!

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    1. There are very few retellings that just absolutely blow me away -- The Lunar Chronicles and Cruel Beauty are the ones that come to mind -- but I'm still always intrigued enough to see how an author goes about pulling off a retelling.

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  7. GAH I WANT THIS SO BAD. Peter Pan was my childhood cruse (um, still is??! XD lol) and besides Alice in Wonderland my utterly favourite fairy tale. I think I'm going to throw everything to the wind and just buy this book already, because heck, I NEED it. I love the premise and I love that it uses elements and names and places from the original story. Bit worried about that ending though...hehe. Epic review there, Jen!

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    1. I love Peter Pan, too...the idea of never growing up or getting older. No responsibilities. It's a powerful fantasy, and I think the author captures that aspect well in the story. I seriously would have enjoyed this so much more if it hadn't been for that ending. :(

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  8. Hrm, not sure I'll read this one. There are aspects that appeal to me (Hook) but I'm just not sure the contemporary setting would do much for me. I'm scared about this ending. Wonderful review Jen

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    1. The contemporary setting didn't really bother me because it still had an element of otherworldliness to it. But, yeah, not a fan of the ending. :0/

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  9. The whole setup sounds really bizarre to me. Like Kristen, I'm not sold on the contemporary setting for some reason. I suppose that's because contemps. are generally a reflection of life, and this one has this too good to be true sorta vibe. Maybe I'm being too hasty, and the setting brings some originality to the story, but I'm still not convinced. I'm sorry you were disappointed by the ending, but I'm glad you found redeeming qualities about the story. I'll have to take a pass on this one, but I really enjoyed your fair and balanced review, lady. <3

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    1. It was kind of bizarre, but in a good way. Lol. I think the contemporary setting actually worked for the story as it was presented because it's not a strict retelling, but I can see why it would be off-putting.

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  10. The first half of this was an easy 4-5 star read for me. But the twist in the middle and the second half completely lost me. I loved the contemporary setup and how many elements of the original tale the author included, but all that stuff in the middle? I didn't find it was executed well, so I didn't enjoy it.

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    1. I agree with you completely, I really liked the first half and probably would have rated the story higher if it had kept on in that vein. But the second half was poorly executed, as you say. :(

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  11. Haha that gif made it look like it was made for your review. I really like the idea of a Peter Pan retelling. The only other one I know is Tiger Lily but I'm assuming it's something to do with Peter Pan. I'll probably read this, I do like my retellings ;)

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    1. Ha, when I stumbled upon that GIF in my search, I knew it was made for this review, lol. I probably liked both this one and Tiger Lily about the same. They were both very different retellings, but both left me unhappy with the endings. :(

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  12. I rated this the same as you, Jen. It was kind of meandering for the most part, and it wasn't a standout book, but but I enjoyed it enough to give it 3 stars. This Wendy didn't hate it, so that's not too bad. ;)

    Wendy @ The Midnight Garden

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    1. I don't think I could have hated it because of how much I enjoyed the first half of the novel, but it was definitely kind of a cluster as the story wore on. I was really hoping for more from a book featuring Peter and the Lost Boys as surfers. o_O

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  13. شركة نقل عفش
    اهم شركات مكافحة حشرات بالخبر كذلك معرض اهم شركة مكافحة حشرات بالدمام والخبر والجبيل والخبر والاحساء والقطيف كذلك شركة رش حشرات بالدمام ومكافحة الحشرات بالخبر
    شركة مكافحة حشرات بالدمام
    شركة تنظيف خزانات بجدة الجوهرة من افضل شركات تنظيف الخزانات بجدة حيث ان تنظيف خزانات بجدة يحتاج الى مهارة فى كيفية غسيل وتنظيف الخزانات الكبيرة والصغيرة بجدة على ايدى متخصصين فى تنظيف الخزانات بجدة
    شركة تنظيف خزانات بجدة
    شركة كشف تسربات المياه بالدمام
    شركة نقل عفش واثاث

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