#WyrdAndWonder YA Weekend: Lost in the Never Woods by Aiden Thomas

I received a review copy from the publisher. This does not affect the contents of my review and all opinions are my own.

Lost in the Never Woods by Aiden Thomas

Mogsy’s Rating (Overall): 2.5 of 5 stars

Genre: Fantasy, Young Adult

Series: Stand Alone

Publisher: Swoon Reads | Macmillan Audio (March 23, 2021)

Length: 384 pages | 12 hrs and 14 mins

Author Information: Website | Twitter

Narrator: Avi Roque

My YA burnout continues, and I think that’s where a lot of my reluctance to pick up even books with stories that look interesting to me, but I thought for sure I couldn’t go wrong with a dark Peter Pan retelling. Well, guess I was wrong. It’s not that Lost in the Never Woods was a bad story, but it was completely unremarkable, and it just doesn’t stand out or feel unique enough.

Wendy Darling has just turned eighteen. It has been five years since she and her brothers Michael and John went into the woods near their house, but only Wendy walked out months later, with no memory of what happened or any idea where the boys could be. Her amnesia and confusion were chalked up to trauma, and despite the efforts of the authorities, no traces of her brothers were ever found.

But now, children in their local community are going missing again, bringing Michael and John’s disappearance back into the public eye. The renewed interest in the case has put a strain on the family, especially on Wendy, who retreats into her artwork in an attempt to forget the past. When she and her brothers were younger, their mother always told them stories about Peter Pan, and lately Wendy has been sketching the boy who never grew up, imagining in her head what he might look like. The last thing she expected though, was to actually meet him in the flesh. But that is exactly what happens, as Wendy drives home one night and almost runs over an unconscious boy lying in the middle of the road. Rushing out to help, she is shocked when she sees his face clearly and realizes it’s the same one that she has been drawing in her sketchbook for months.

Like I said, Lost in the Never Woods may begin with a good hook, but unfortunately the spark itself never materializes. We spend way too much time establishing Wendy’s life at the hospital volunteering with her best friend, sitting through a bunch of contrived and canned conversations between the two teenage girls. Things start looking up a bit once Peter enters the picture and readers get to catch the first few hints on a possible villain, but then they slow to crawl again as we fall right back into autopilot and continue down the path of mediocrity. The romance is completely paint-by-numbers, and Peter’s cutesy pseudo-charming demeanor also felt really cringey and forced at times.

The ending was just about the only thing I liked, because with those revelations the story came through on its promise of darkness. In fact, when the truth finally hit, the utter devastation of it was kind of jarring, given the overall lighter tone of the novel. It’s like, holy crap, the author actually went and did that! Wow and yay! Despite being totally blindsided, I’m still pleased things turned out that way, giving the conclusion its much needed weight and focus.

Of course, whether it was enough to make up for the lackluster parts of the book is another matter. In fact, I think there are some poignant themes in this book, like messages about growing up or the futility of holding on to the negative emotions of the past, but most of it gets lost in the noise of the more banal, melodramatic YA tropes.

It’s too bad, really, because Lost in the Never Woods could have been so much more. Certain aspects of the story and characters just seemed too shallow and unpolished, and I can only truly recommend this for dedicated fans of Peter Pan retellings who may wish to read every single one they can get their hands on. Otherwise, there are probably better ones out there more worthy of your time and attention.

13 Comments on “#WyrdAndWonder YA Weekend: Lost in the Never Woods by Aiden Thomas”

  1. While I’m aware that it’s my distrust of YA speaking here, it would seem that your recent negative streak might be due to the subgenre’s tendency to follow comfortable stereotypes rather than looking for something new and groundbreaking. Pity because fairy-tale retellings DO have great potential…

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  2. This is disappointing. Luckily I did not request this one. I’ve been disappointed by YA for a while now but the search for a good one continues, I guess😁

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  3. Hmmm, sorry to hear about this one. It’s probaly not one I’d have tried anyway given the publisher, Swoon Reads. Just doesn’t seem the type of YA story I’d enjoy, though I’m very open to finding those I would. May the next one you read be one you’ll enjoy! 🙂

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  4. Well that is a shame. I really liked the look and sound of this one. Like you, I am a bit more reluctant to read YA these days, in fairness I’m not that target audience, but every now and again, done well, it’s perfection.
    Lynn 😀

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    • I’m definitely not the target audience of YA anymore, at least with this current trend – I still love discovering the odd gem though, so I guess I’ll keep trying the ones that look interesting 🙂

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  6. Aww man, it has such a pretty cover. Sorry it didn’t work out. I doubt I’ll check it out since I’ve been leery of YA fantasy for some time now so I hardly ever take chances on those books.

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  7. Pingback: Bookshelf Roundup: 05/29/21: Stacking the Shelves & Recent Reads | The BiblioSanctum

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