The Neverland Wars – Audrey Greathouse

“There is envy in the sky, Peter, and when the heavens are jealous, no good can come of it.”

27396942

Blurb: “Magic can do a lot – give you flight, show you mermaids, help you taste the stars, and… solve the budget crisis? That’s what the grown-ups will do with it if they ever make it to Neverland to steal its magic and bring their children home. However, Gwen doesn’t know this. She’s just a sixteen-year-old girl with a place on the debate team and a powerful crush on Jay, the soon-to-be homecoming king. She doesn’t know her little sister could actually run away with Peter Pan, or that she might have to chase after her to bring her home safe. Gwen will find out though – and when she does, she’ll discover she’s in the middle of a looming war between Neverland and reality.”

*This book was sent to me by the publisher in exchange for an honest review*

Everyone knows that I adore Peter Pan. It is my all-time favourite story and I will eat up any adaptation or spin off to do with it. So when I was sent a copy of this book, it was safe to say I had some expectations in place.

The story follows Gwen, an American teenager whose only cares in life are getting through her life and what she’s going to wear to homecoming. That is until Peter Pan takes her sister. Gwen’s world changes as she learns that her father works for a company that deals with magic and there are many cases of the children from those involved in the industry being taken to the magical Neverland she thought only existed in the book. Matters are made worse when Peter Pan returns to claim another victim and this time, he has chosen Gwen and war is looming – a war between Neverland and reality.

What I really liked about this book was that Gwen’s reason for going to Neverland was so her sister wouldn’t be alone. However I was disappointed when the characters get there and the little sister is absent for most of the book. It seemed to make Gwen’s reasoning for going there in the first place just totally redundant. Another thing I liked was the Once Upon A Time TV show style of having fairy-tale characters but their stories exist in books and films in the real world rather than it being something completely new to Gwen. There didn’t seem to be much explanation about the war or much build up to it: the groundwork was laid as to why but the war itself just happened out of nowhere as if they hadn’t planned for it.

The aspect that kept me reading quite a confusing book was the mermaid scenes. They’re my favourite part of the Neverland universe and were so creepy and unnerving.

Overall, it was an okay read but not something I think I’ll return to in the future.

For more of my reading adventures follow me on Goodreads

For my writing adventures follow me on Twitter

For my videos, check out my Youtube

For bookish photographs follow my instagram: @charlottereadsthings

Alice Takes Back Wonderland – David D.Hammons

22590207

Blurb: “After ten years of being told she can’t tell the difference between real life and a fairy tale, Alice finally stops believing in Wonderland. So when the White Rabbit shows up at her house, Alice thinks she is going crazy. Only when the White Rabbit kicks her down the rabbit hole does Alice realise that the magical land she visited as a child is real. But all is not well in Wonderland.”

**I was sent this book by the publisher in exchange for an honest review*

The story opens with seven year old Alice running out of the courtroom after the case that takes place in the original story. As she runs to freedom, the Cheshire cat spouts his usual nonsense, this time about fairy tales and their echoes (echoes are how we know fairy tales, and the fairy tales are what really happened). For example, in the story as we know it, Alice is an English girl from the nineteenth century, in this book she is an American girl from the twenty-first century.

She returns to her world only to be told that the people she met, the adventures she had, and the world she visited are not real. She spends Christmas in a mental hospital, gets diagnosed with Attention Deficit Hyperactivity Disorder. One line that really broke my heart at this point was: “I told the doctors I didn’t believe ADHD was real. They told me they didn’t believe Wonderland was real.”

Ten years of therapy sessions, popping pills and re-affirming to herself that what she experienced was not real, Alice is finally (slightly) on the mend. That is, until the White Rabbit shows up in her bedroom.  Wonderland has changed and he needs her help: The Ace of Spades is now in charge and the Cheshire cat is dead. It is also later revealed that Ace send the White Rabbit through the rabbit holes and into the real world so he can collect things, because Ace wants Wonderland to be a mirror of our world.

The mad hatter wants things to return to well… as normal as they can be in Wonderland so he tells Alice that she need to seek help from other fairy tale characters to create an army to take back Wonderland. He puts Alice in a flying machine and sends her on her way.

So time for my thoughts.

Going back to what I mentioned about the mental struggles Alice faces when she returns from Wonderland; this part was so well written. To say this happened very early on in the story, you really feel for her and just want to reach through the pages, hug her and tell her that Wonderland is real. The pressure she has put on her by her mother and sister to be normal and go to university etc was just so sad to read.

However for me, this is where everything good about this book ended. The transitions between the worlds when Alice sets off on her adventures were just too jarring and felt kind of like I’d hit a brick wall. She seemed to spend way too much time in Wonderland to say there was this sense of urgency to create an army to beat Ace and the pace of the book was lost because of it.

It felt to me that a lot of the fairy tale characters were just thrown in randomly, without much thought, in order to get people buying this book for the very fact that it’s mentioned on the blurb  (in particular Peter Pan). I just felt like these types of characters were used for that reason and then left with a pretty sub-par story. Now I am all for fairy-tale retellings/reimagining’s but I feel like the idea of “echoes” was used as an excuse just to allow the author to change the fairy tales and their characters as much as they have done.

Also, I don’t know why the story needed to be americanised. It added literally nothing except obviously a location change in the real world. The only way the story would have been affected if the location had remained England and that time period was that there would have been no ADHD diagnosis and instead they would have just simply called her “mad” and shunned her.

If I wasn’t reading this because it was sent to me by a publisher and I had to give an honest review, then honestly I would have stopped reading this before the halfway point. However, it was only fair that I read the book in its entirety.

Overall, a very disappointing book.
For more of my reading adventures follow me on Goodreads

For my writing adventures follow me on Twitter

For my videos, check out my Youtube

For bookish photographs follow my instagram: @charlottereadsthings

Movie Review: Pan

Pan

*Warning: this post is not entirely spoiler free*

If anyone was to ever ask me what my all time favourite story is, the answer would without a doubt be Peter Pan. There is something just so beautiful about this place called Neverland, the people who live there, and the adventures you can go on that makes me cling to it with everything I have. The original novel, written by J.M.Barrie, is the reason I decided to become a writer. While this is obviously a book blog, Peter Pan has always been so precious to me that, even though this is a “loose adaptation” it would be silly for me to ignore it.

When I initially heard that this movie was in the works I was so excited because it’s been a very long time since we’ve had a Peter Pan movie. As I waited with bated breath for more information, it was finally announced that the movie would be called “Pan” and would be an origin story. An origin story you say? Surely that hasn’t been done before? Well you would be right, imaginary other half of this discussion. There is no “canon” origin story to Peter Pan. So this had me very interested.

So first, let us take a look at the main cast:

Levi Miller

Peter played by Levi Miller

There’s not really much you can gauge from looking at a child actor. But at 13 years old, he’s roughly the right age for Peter and from what I saw in the trailer it seemed like he was going to be right for the part.

Hugh Jackman

Blackbeard played by Hugh Jackman

Hugh Jackman is well… Hugh Jackman. He’s just such a fantastic actor. When I first heard he was going to be in the film, I was convinced he was going to play Captain Hook for some reason, but then as more details of the story came out I discovered he would be playing Blackbeard. Also he shaved his head and grew a very styled beard for the role.

Garrett

Hook played by Garrett Hedlund

Here we have the actual Hook. This is what made me nervous for the film. Based on the footage of Garrett in the trailer, his accent is just terrible. I don’t know who told him to put that accent on but bad move.

Rooney Mara

Tiger Lily played by Rooney Mara 

And finally, we have our Tiger Lily. This was one of my bigger concerns. The Indians in the original story are Native American and suddenly in the trailer pops up Rooney Mara. A white woman.

I’ll come back to what I thought of the cast based on the actual movie later on.

The film has a really pretty opening with a voice over talking about how everything has a beginning and how sometimes not everything is the same as it was at the start: “those who start as friends become enemies, and those who start as enemies become friends.” (A possible link to Hook maybe?) This then cuts to a woman running down a street and leaving a baby outside a door with a necklace. After this brief scene – in which the viewer can identify the actress as Amanda Seyfried- it cuts to a few years later, during World War 2.

Levi Miller finally makes his appearance as Peter, the boy who was abandoned in the previous scene. He’s in an orphanage and the only way I can possibly describe this place is that it’s like the orphanage in the musical film Oliver! Food is rationed, the nuns are nasty, the conditions aren’t great and they’re forced to do work. I half-expected the nuns to start singing when Peter asked if there was any bacon.

Anyway, one night while the boys are sleeping, the nuns put up a pirate flag. A pirate ship arrives and those on board begin stealing some of the orphans. The army sends fighter planes after the ship believing that it is an attack from the enemy. Why on earth you would think the enemy in the 1940’s would use a flying pirate ship to launch an attack, I’m not sure, but I admired the slightly comic scene that ensued.

The ship makes it back to what is assumingly Neverland and this segment of film is what got me really pumped for the rest of it. As Peter looks over the side of the ship he sees thousands of people looking up at him, all chanting, believe it or not, some of the lyrics to Smells Like Teen Spirit. It seems like a cult gathering and the chanting reaches it climax when Blackbeard (Hugh Jackman) makes his entrance and welcomes the new arrivals to Neverland. This scene just made me want to grab a sword and start kicking things and stabbing things because it was just such a badass and epic build up.

Initially I thought that the boys getting stolen by the pirates would end up being the lost boys from the original story, especially since Peter’s best friend was called Nibs. However, after the intense chanting scene and seeing how many boys were actually there, it seemed my guess was very much wrong.

Blackbeard tells the boys to get mining and Peter learns that they are looking for fairie pixim (fairy dust). Along this way Hook (Garrett Hedlund) makes his on screen debut as the rather bitter adult who’s all “I’m not your friend, kid” but then ends up being stuck with the kid anyway. Peter is determined to find his mother and believes that she may be on the island and that the natives might know where she is. With the help of Hook, they escape and so the cat and mouse chase begins.

And of course, what would a film be without some ancient prophecy?
The people of the land know of a prophecy which tells of a boy, born from a human woman and a fairy prince, who will come from another world to kill Blackbeard. Also, the boy has the ability to fly.
This couldn’t possibly be our little protagonist now, could it?

So there’s the basic plot laid out for you.

I was very surprised by this film. I expected it to be good but it just went beyond that. There were so many wonderfully clever links to the source material which actually answered a lot of the questions I had about the story such as how Peter can understand fairies, how he actually got the name “Peter Pan” and links to Hook becoming the captain we know.

Going back to Rooney Mara whom I mentioned earlier, I tried really hard to put aside the fact she was white and pay attention to her acting. She was very good in this film. Although I’m sure Tiger Lily is closer to Peter’s age in the book, she took on more of a mother’s role with Peter in this film and it was really lovely to see someone guiding him, and believing in him when he didn’t believe in himself. I still would have preferred someone Native American to take on the role though.

There was one aspect to this film that literally had me eye-rolling so hard you could have probably heard me. When Hook meets Tiger Lily, it’s not really hard to see that she’s rather attractive and a kind of sub-plot was the tedious Hook attempting to flirt while Tiger Lily having no interest but eventually kind of softening to him. It just wasn’t needed at all and kind of detracted away from the importance of what Peter was facing.

Levi Miller was utterly incredible in the main role. Dare I even say it, he may be my favourite Peter Pan to date. I can’t even put into words his acting in this film, but if this boy doesn’t have a long film career ahead of him, I will be shocked.

To top the film off, you have breath-taking visuals of the island, brilliant CGI and the score music , composed by John Powell (known for How To Train Your Dragon scores), just adds that extra bit of magic.

I highly recommend you see this film if you haven’t yet. Or if you have, let me know what you thought about it!

For more of my reading adventures follow me on Goodreads

For my writing adventures follow me on Twitter

For my videos, check out my Youtube

For bookish photographs follow my instagram: @charlottereadsthings