Thursday, September 8, 2011

Peter and the Starcatchers by Dave Barry and Ridley Pearson (Review by C)

Don’t even think of starting this book unless you’re sitting in a comfortable chair and have lots of time. A fast-paced, impossible-to-put-down adventure awaits as the young orphan Peter and his mates are dispatched to an island ruled by the evil King Zarboff. They set sail aboard the Never Land, a ship carrying a precious and mysterious trunk in its cargo hold, and the journey quickly becomes fraught with excitement and danger. Discover richly developed characters in the sweet but sophisticated Molly, the scary but familiar Black Stache, and the fearless Peter. Treacherous battles with pirates, foreboding thunderstorms at sea, and evocative writing immerses the reader in a story that slowly and finally reveals the secrets and mysteries of the beloved Peter Pan.
Reviewed by: Caressa
I give it: 3.95/5 stars

Six or seven years ago, I was known as an avid reader in my local area. My dance instructor suggested a book, Peter and the Starcatchers, and I was mesmerized by the description and excerpt I read. Unfortunately, it was a fairly new book and wasn't kept in my local library nor when I bought books, could I ever find it.
Since then, I have become obsessed with books about myths and other published books. Wicked by Gregory Maguire is my own all-time favorite, accompanied by many of his other books rewriting the fairy tales and other authors who explore the same areas. Growing up as a child, my mother was a psychology major and my grandfather encouraged me to think of the “bad guy” as more than just “bad”; ever since, I've had an unrelenting taste for literature written from an unusual perspective or a twist. What would Harry Potter have been like from Draco's perspective? What if Harry Potter had just been a normal boy with a radical case of luck? The world may never know (although, I have finally convinced myself to keep reading in the Harry Potter series and I genuinely LOVE it. ;) ).
To digress, Peter and the Starcatchers is a fantastic piece of children's literature. It was funny, witty, and somewhat unexpected. Furthermore, it was rather thorough, and covered much more than I expected in the contents of its pages.
But, I have been spoiled. Seven years is a long time to actively want to read anything, even the best of books, and because Peter and the Starcatchers was nothing like I expected, it both allowed me to look at the book as a separate piece than what I had been waiting for (and see it for its strengths) and also to be more intensely disappointed in it than I had ever expected.
(From this point on, there may be minor spoilers; if you wish to avoid these ;) and read the book for yourself, please skip ahead to the red parentheses)
Primarily, I disliked this book because of the Starcatchers plot. It seemed overly under-developed and juvenile (although it is a children's book). I wished deeply for Molly to have a deeper connection to Peter and an alternative reason Peter had survived touching the starstuff (other than mere chance). The ending of the book felt extremely rushed, although I relished understanding the connection between Hook and the crocodile as well as the mermaids and Peter.
Tinkerbell was a compromise between what I would have disliked and what I wished to happen. I wanted very much for Tinkerbell to distinguish Peter by a trait or action of his own accord. In fact, I wished very often that Peter was more a product of his actions and personality. Yet he seemed to have very little distinguishing qualities for boys of his age and time. I was satisfied when they mentioned the personality traits carried from the bird to the fairy.
(/end spoilers)
Regardless, I think I would have really enjoyed this book at age nine when it was recommended to me; I believe it would have influenced my literary decisions and the path I took as a reader. The writing isn't exceptional, but even including the cons I outlined; I suggest ALL readers explore the contents of the book. It's a must read on every shelf but it's important to read it without expectations. I believe it could, quite possibly, blow you away (pun intended XP).

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