Wednesday, May 14, 2014

Second Star by Alyssa B Sheinmel

The Basics:
Second Star by Alyssa B Sheinmel
Farrar, Straus and Giroux (BYR)
Published May 13, 2014
Source: Received via NetGalley in exchange for an honest review.

Why I picked up this book:

I love adaptations of classics.


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 his 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 J. M. Barrie's classic tale, Second Star is an irresistible summer romance about two young men who have yet to grow up—and the troubled beauty trapped between them.

My thoughts:

I wasn't sure what to think when I finished this book for the first time. It was such an emotional and challenging journey from the first to last page. But so worth it.

When the blurb promises a radical reinvention, it is not overselling this story at all. Elements of the Peter Pan story are present, but in ways that Barrie would never have considered.

I can't say too much about the plot without giving away some significant twists and turns in Wendey's adventure, but I will say that I found the ending just shy of satisfying *me*. I think it's probably a perfectly appropriate ending for the book, and intellectually I understood it and approved of it. I wanted something slightly more solid.

In terms of characters, I liked that they were bold. Jas and Pete, Belle and the lost boys are not tentative or hesitant or weak impressions of runaways. This book doesn't shy away from some of the harsher realities of being a runaway - even though it indulges in this haze of surfing and the joys therein. I felt for Wendy and how lost and helpless she felt while searching for her brothers. I found her quite relatable.

I didn't *love* the love triangle trope but it was used in a way that felt a little different from the average YA novel (I'm glaring at you, paranormal/supernatural subgenre).

The book really shines when it came to surfing details. I'm not personally a surfer (or a great lover of the ocean), but I found Wendy's connection to the sport easy to understand. The descriptions of surfing were beautiful and brilliant and raw and while I read the book, I forgot that I hate saltwater and thought it would be cool to try surfing myself.

This story was much more heartbreaking and emotional than I expected and while normally that might put me off, there was something so novel about it that I was drawn right in. The bond between siblings is on display here, capturing that balance between loving them so much you'll do anything for them, even if you don't quite know them....

Bottom line:

Peter Pan as you've never seen it before, I'm recommending this even though it's slightly outside my normal wheelhouse.

4 stars
For fans of surfing stories, heartbreaking tales, YA

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