Book Review: Lost Boy by Christina Henry + Giveaway!
***The giveaway is now over, thanks to everyone who entered!***
I received a review copy from the publisher. This does not affect the contents of my review and all opinions are my own.
Mogsy’s Rating: 4 of 5 stars
Series: Book 1/Stand Alone
Publisher: Berkley (July 4, 2017)
Length: 304 pages
Each year seems to bring its crop of Peter Pan retellings, and 2017 is no exception. We’ve gotten to the point where even the versions told from Captain Hook’s point-of-view, where “Hook is good/Peter is evil” are nothing to bat an eye at. And yet, I still find myself unable to ever resist these, always searching for the one which will finally do this great villain justice.
This was what led me to Lost Boy, and I must say, Christina Henry’s portrayal may be one of the best I’ve ever read. Not surprising, really, considering this is the same author who brought us the dark and bloody Chronicles of Alice, a twisted duology inspired by the classics works of Lewis Carroll which I also happened to enjoy immensely. This time though, Henry is taking us down a different rabbit hole, into one that connects the world of our own with a magical island in another place where children never grow old. This is the home of Peter Pan, who spends his never-ending childhood stealing boys from the “Other Place” to bring back to his island paradise so that he will always have playmates to amuse him. However, Peter has a very sick sense of what constitutes “amusement”. His outward appearance of an eleven-year-old boy belies the fact that he is a master manipulator, with an infectious charm that makes all his Lost Boys love him and want to please him.
The only one who can see through all of this is Jamie, the first boy Peter ever brought to the island. They’ve been the best of friends for a long, long time—long enough that Jamie has become Peter’s favorite companion and right hand man, the one who takes care of the rest of the boys. Someone has to, after all, considering the way Peter goes through playmates like dogs go through chew toys, a fact that Jamie hates. Whether he is leading the boys into pirate raids or making them beat each other up during Battle, Peter only has his own entertainment in mind, giving no thought to whether the others got hurt, sickened, or even died. Already he is showing signs of growing bored with Charlie, the latest boy he has brought back from the Other Place. Younger and more helpless than the others, Charlie immediately becomes attached to Jamie, who steps in to become the little boy’s protector. Unfortunately, this just seems to make Peter resent Charlie even more. Not for the first time, Jamie wonders just how far Peter would go to maintain his absolute rule over the Lost Boys, though if it means harm to Charlie, he knows he will do whatever what it takes to stop his oldest friend.
And here I thought Disney’s depiction of Peter Pan was an annoying little shit. The portrayal of the Boy-Who-Wouldn’t-Grow-Up in Lost Boy on the other hand, is on an entirely different level of evil and heartlessness. While it is said that in the original play and books by J.M. Barrie, the character symbolizes the selfishness of childhood as evidenced by his thoughtlessness and cocky attitude, Christina Henry’s Peter Pan embodies of all of this plus a healthy dose of psychopathy, to the point I doubt even the Once Upon A Time version can hold a candle to hers in terms of sheer dickery. The Peter in Lost Boy is a repugnant little monster, one who relishes in manipulating the minds of young and innocent little boys so that they would worship him and leap unquestioningly to do his bidding—even if it is an order to beat each other to a bloody pulp. To Peter, the Lost Boys are nothing more than disposable and replaceable meat toys; if they get destroyed or if he grows bored with them, he’ll just go over to the Other Place and pick up another.
This in turn made it easy to root for Jamie, our protagonist who has come to realize that what used to be fun becomes no longer so if you’re forced to do it for eternity…never growing older, playing out the same “adventures” again and again. He’s also getting sick of burying his friends, the many Lost Boys who have died over the years because of Peter’s negligence (it’s all fun and games until someone gets decapitated by a cannonball). Without even being aware of it, Jamie is growing up, maturing in mind if not in body, a process which has already begun when we first meet him. What sets Lost Boy apart from similar books is the way Henry handles this transition. For Jamie, his hatred of Peter Pan isn’t a switch that just gets flipped on one day. Instead, it is like a seed which has been planted since the beginning, only it has been buried for a very long time. With every shock and revelation he receives about Peter’s true nature, it grows and grows until something finally happens that makes him reach the point of no return.
Jamie’s characterization was a huge part of what made Lost Boy such a fascinating, addictive read. However, it also led to a lot of powerful and heartbreaking moments. The protagonist’s caring attitude made me sympathize with him, but it also killed me knowing that it would eventually lead to his downfall. After all, we all know of the famous rivalry between Peter Pan and Captain Hook. That part of their story does not change with this retelling, but Christina Henry has made the journey to get there a lot more interesting and at times overwhelming and painful in its emotional intensity.
All told, Lost Boy is Hook’s tale as I have never heard it told before, and I thoroughly enjoyed it. I’d probably avoid this if you’d like hold on to your memories of Peter Pan as a cute and free-spirited young boy, but definitely pick this up if you are a fan of grim and gruesome imaginative retellings.
Lost Boy Giveaway
Time for a giveaway! With thanks to the publisher, the BiblioSanctum has one print copy of Lost Boy up for grabs! The giveaway is open to residents of the US. To enter, all you have to do is send an email to firstname.lastname@example.org with your Name and valid Mailing Address using the subject line “LOST BOY” by 11:59pm Eastern time on Sunday, July 23, 2017.
Only one entry per household, please. The winner will be randomly selected when the giveaway ends and then be notified by email. All information will only be used for the purposes of contacting the winner and sending them their prize. Once the giveaway ends all entry emails will be deleted.
So what are you waiting for? Enter to win! Good luck!