Publisher: Berkley Books
Release: July 4th 2017
Received: Penguin Read it First
Warnings: Child death
Lost Boy is a captivating and darker retelling of the classic Peter Pan. Think Peter Pan meets Lord of the Flies, and that is essentially the tone of this book. I had never thought it possible to feel sympathy for Captain Hook, before reading Lost Boy. So needless to say this book kind of blew my mind.
Warnings first: Much like Lord of the Flies, there’s a lot of death in this book, some pirates, some monsters, but mostly children. If this makes you uncomfortable (more than is typical, that is), please reconsider reading it.
This tale is established before the events that occur in Peter Pan, before Wendy and the rest ever come to the island. It’s about the first boy Peter ever selected to come to Neverland. It’s about Jamie, the boy who becomes Captain Hook.
Being the first selected means Jamie is responsible for all the new and younger boys, as Peter is too focused on playing to actually care for them. It’s up to Jamie to make sure they’re safe and fed. It’s up to him to bury them when they die. Peter never cares when a boy is killed, but Jamie does. Even though he’s the best at killing pirates, it still hurts him to see any of the lost boys die. The more boys Peter brings back to camp, the more responsibility Jamie has; and the less time he has to play. After one hundred and fifty season of this (give or take), one can appreciate how it’d wear on Jamie.
The catalyst for a lot of the events that occur in Lost Boy is a young child named Charlie. He’s much younger than the boys Peter normally prefers, and he can’t really do anything for himself. Jamie has to care for him constantly, and Peter resents him for this; wishing they just leave him to die (or get eaten by a crocodile) instead.
Throughout the novel a ghost story haunts Jamie; it’s the take if a little ducking that strays from his mother and gets eaten by a crocodile. The mother, in mourning, weeps over the crocodile pond until she becomes a tree, always waiting for her little duckling to come home. It’s a story Peter intentionally told in order to scare Charlie and intimidate/warn Jamie. The similarities between the mother duck and her baby versus Jamie and Charlie are enough to make him fear even more for the boy’s life, while vague enough for him to question if he’ gotten the story wrong. It’s very beautifully (and creepily) done.
I love every moment of this novel, even the bad ones. Everything is wound together with Peter Pan, and no detail is forgotten. We’re (finally) shown why Tinkerbell is the only fairy, why Hook hates Peter so much (this obviously is a main point of the plot), why Peter and the boys stay young as they do. Everything. It’s a very well thought out and thorough read. There wasn’t much world building done, but with such a strong world already existing, it really wasn’t needed.
I’ve always entertained the idea that Peter Pan is actually a true fae, and this novel pretty much convinces me of it. He’s a boy by all appearances, bound to the land, extraordinarily fast and graceful. He’s unnaturally long lived, speaks to fairies, and doesn’t seem to understand human emotions. And don’t forget, he kidnaps little boys for fun. Need I say more?