Tuesday, March 22, 2011

Review: Peter and the Starcatchers

Peter and the Starcatchers by Dave Barry and Ridley Pearson

Published: Hyperion Books, 2004
Word Count: 83,150
Series: Peter and the Starcatchers, book one
Source: library audio book
My Grade: B

Synopsis from GoodReads.com:  A fast-paced, impossible-to-put-down adventure awaits as the young orphan Peter and his mates are dispatched to an island ruled by the evil King Zarboff. They set sail aboard the Never Land, a ship carrying a precious and mysterious trunk in its cargo hold, and the journey quickly becomes fraught with excitement and danger. Discover richly developed characters in the sweet but sophisticated Molly, the scary but familiar Black Stache, and the fearless Peter. Treacherous battles with pirates, foreboding thunderstorms at sea, and evocative writing immerses the reader in a story that slowly and finally reveals the secrets and mysteries of the beloved Peter Pan.

I don't know about you, but I felt as though this book explained away some of the mystery of the Peter Pan story. Like: Where exactly did Peter come from? Why can he fly all the time without the constant need for fairy dust? How did fairies come to inhabit Neverland? How did Neverland get it's name? Just who is Captain Hook and how did he come to be on Neverland? The uncertainty behind these types of questions gives the Peter Pan mythos the aire of a dream or of Fairyland, and I think it's supposed to. Interacting with this story as a child (as I think most of us did), we did not wonder about these things but simply accepted the story and the fairies/people who existed in it as it was. I didn't like that Barry and Pearson gave a definite reason for these things. It takes away the magical quality of the story a bit.

Also, I can't remember if things like why Peter stays a boy forever are explicitly explained in the original book, or if I simply decided it was living on Neverland that stopped his growth. But if it was the latter, then I like the fact that we can come up with our own conclusion as to why things like that are the way they are in the Peter Pan story. (The authors give a different reason than mine, by the way, as to why Peter doesn't grow up).  Also, the original Peter Pan tells us pretty clearly that not growing up is Peter's CHOICE. In this book, that choice is clearly taken away. I am harping on this because this is one of the unique pivotal features of Peter Pan (the story and the character). And if you are going to write a prequel to Peter Pan, then at least make it consistent with the existing mythology!!  

There is a lot of action here. Almost too much, but if you've read my other reviews, you know I'm not a big fan of showy drawn-out action scenes. Especially when they are there for the sake of having an action scene, even if it doesn't contribute to the storyline. All the action scenes did move the story along, and if I was a ten year old boy I would have thought this book was totally awesome. And I would recommend it to 10 year old boys. But for me, I think the action could have been condensed and the plot more streamlined. But that's just me.

Ok, let's talk about Star Stuff. You know, that gold glittery dust that fell from the heavens and makes people fly. What's that you say? You thought it was called "Fairy Dust" and came from fairies? Me too. That's all I'm going to say about that.

I found myself not caring about the antics of Slank and Little Richard, but again that stuff is geared toward young boys. Also, Black Stache seemed to just track Slank or Peter through the island the whole time, and didn't contribute much to the other action. Peter's character was not as confident and boastful as he is usually depicted. He was much sweeter in this book, which is ok. It didn't bother me that much, it was just different.

Overall, it was a great little action book that is a nice choice for young boys.

Find it on Amazon: Peter and the Starcatchers

Visit the authors' website: http://www.peterandthestarcatchers.com/

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