Title: Second Star
Author: Alyssa B. Sheinmel
Publisher: Farrar, Straus and Giroux
Publication Date: May 13, 2014
If you know me at all, you know that I am a sucker for alternate universe fairytales, retold fairytales, contemporary fairytales… you name it. I picked up Second Star desperately hoping it would be related somehow to Peter Pan, and I have never been so happy to be right. This is a great retelling of the beloved children’s classic, and though I had a few issues with it, it was an enjoyable read overall.
A brief summary from the author’s website:
A twisty story about love, loss, and lies, this contemporary oceanside adventure is tinged with a touch of dark magic as it follows seventeen-year-old Wendy Darling on a search for her missing brothers. Wendy’s journey leads her to a mysterious hidden cove inhabited by a tribe of renegade surfers, most of them runaways like her brothers. Wendy is instantly drawn to the cove’s charismatic leader, Pete, but her search also points her toward Pete’s nemesis, the drug-dealing Jas. Enigmatic, dangerous, and handsome, Jas pulls Wendy in even as she’s falling hard for Pete. A radical reinvention of a classic, Second Star is an irresistible summer romance about two young men who have yet to grow up – and the troubled beauty trapped between them.
I loved how Sheinmel manipulated the fairy tale’s characters and made them fit this entirely new setting. Wendy is now a young girl on a quest to find her missing surfer brothers, which takes her to Kensington, a surfers’ hideaway led by Pete (Peter Pan) and his posse of surfers (essentially the lost boys, plus the ever-jealous Belle – two guesses as to who she’s supposed to be). Fairy dust is transformed into the street name for a drug, which is dealt by Jas – who I presume is meant to represent Captain Hook, as he’s nowhere else to be found in the novel, though I wish the name had made that a little clearer.
There’s just the right amount of magic and mystery surrounding these characters and their existence in Kensington, and the effects that the drugs have on the surfer population, and the effects that Pete and his gang have on Wendy. I wasn’t entirely sure throughout the book if there was any magic actually involved, which made me love the book more. And the ending of the book left me with more questions than answers – which, surprisingly, I enjoyed.
What I disliked the most about Second Star, however, was the unnecessary love triangle. I don’t think it added anything extra to the plot except for a multitude of sighs from me. Plus, I hate to admit it, but compared to Wendy and Jas, she had absolutely no chemistry with Pete. It was a complete non-competition, it seemed. I understand the need to throw in romance in order to make it more appealing to young adult audiences, but at the same time, I didn’t feel like it fit. It was awkward, and I could have done without it entirely.
But for the reasons I stated previously, I loved the book overall. I’d definitely recommend it as a beach read, a poolside read, and an anywhere-you-need-a-fairytale-fix read.
4 out of 5 stars.