Second Star

Second Star - Alyssa B. Sheinmel I have reviewed a hundred books, and read and rated thrice that many, but rarely have I been so at a loss for words as Second Star has left me. Even now, I can’t say if I loved it or hated it. I’ve gone back and forth multiple times just writing this review. So, I’m going to do something I’ve never done before. I’m not going to rate this book.

Second Star is a contemporary retelling of the Peter Pan mythos that reimagines Peter as Pete, a homeless surfer and his lost boys as three other runaway youths, including Belle, Pete’s ex. Captain Hook becomes Jas, a “pixie dust” dealer living across the beach. And Wendy Darling is now a straight-A student who has just graduated high school and is looking for her missing brothers before she leaves for Stanford.

In the beginning, I felt the story dragged. There’s a lot of detail about Wendy’s house and her parents’ depression from John and Michael’s presumed death. She has a best friend that she’s drifted apart from due to Fiona’s boyfriend’s meddling. Despite all this detail, I couldn’t connect to Wendy. I learned a lot about her, but I never felt close to her. This never really changed, but it worked for me once she reached Kensington.

The hidden cove where the lost boys live is like another world. There are no fantastical elements to the plot, but the middle third feels like fantasy. The writing, which had been disconnected, becomes ethereal. The descriptions of the beach and the water and the way surfing feels like flying are pretty incredible. It’s beautiful and amazing and the absolute best part of the book.

And then there’s the end. I don’t know how I feel about the end. It’s confusing and messy and...lovely? It’s definitely a trippy mind fuck that feels more in line with an Alice in Wonderland retelling, but I’m left wondering if Wendy learned anything on her journey.

Second Star has gorgeous prose. I really want to recommend it on that strength alone, but I can’t. It’s instalove-y and love triangle-y and what plot there is meanders.The twist ending left me thinking about the book, but not always in a positive way. I will say, its definitely one of the more unique experiences of my reading year.