Peter was the leader of the boys, because he was the oldest. Or maybe he wasn’t. Peter had no idea how old he really was, so he gave himself whatever age suited him, and it suited him to always be one year older than the oldest of his mates. If Peter was nine, and a new boy came to St. Norbert’s Home for Wayward Boys who said he was ten, why, then Peter would declare himself to be eleven. Also, he could spit the farthest. That made him the undisputed leader. (13)
The first in a trilogy chronicling the events before J.M. Barrie's Peter Pan, Peter Pan and the Starcatchers is a suprisingly delightful read. Why suprising? Well, as a firm believer in the 'original is always best' school of thought, I had not expected this prequel to be both as interesting and charming as it was.
Peter and his band of loyal friends (the origins of the Lost Boys) are wards of London's St. Norbert's Home for Wayward Boys. Taken away from the home in an mystery only achievable by unexplained midnight outing, the young boys are boarded on a ship, the Never Land. They soon learn that they are being tansported to the island of Rundoon, to be slaves to island's ruthless king - a man more likely to feed the boys to his snake than offer them any real or home or employment, let alone kindness.
But even before they get to Runddon things are prety rough. The Never Land's crew runs the gamut from incompetent to downright villainous, their quarters are cramped, and the food literally has things living it - not exactly a luxury liner. The only source of friendship found onboard by Peter is in the form of Alf, a kindly deckhand and the curious secretive young passenger, Molly.
Downtrodden and disgusting the voyage may be, but it doesn't lack for excitement - for it is not long before a pirate ship, captaied by the infamous 'Black Stache', starts to run them down, determined to retrieve a crumbling trunk in the Never Land's cargo.
Why are these pirates so intent on retrieving the trunk? What is inside it? And just how is Molly involved?
As I said, Peter and the Starcatchers was a lovely read - both funny and moving in equal parts. Young Peter and the others were true enough to their original counterparts to be a faithful retelling, yet fresh enough to be of interest. There were times that I felt the story to be a little on the long side - at over 400 pages, it is rather long for the start of a children's trilogy - yet despite this, there was no real dragging of the story.
My only real issue ith teh book - and it was an extremely light one at that - was that the almost ultra-realistic tone of teh start led me to beleive that it was going to be a realistic reinterpretation of the book. It's magical elements returned quickly and, while executed well, I thought it would have been interesting to have it go down the other route.
A wonderful read for lovers of Peter Pan and new readers like. 4/5
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