There is one version of my story that everyone knows. And then there is the truth. This is how it happened. How I went from being Peter Pan’s first—and favorite—lost boy to his greatest enemy.
Peter brought me to his island because there were no rules and no grownups to make us mind. He brought boys from the Other Place to join in the fun, but Peter’s idea of fun is sharper than a pirate’s sword. Because it’s never been all fun and games on the island. Our neighbors are pirates and monsters. Our toys are knife and stick and rock—the kinds of playthings that bite.
Peter promised we would all be young and happy forever.
It’s no secret that I am a huge Peter Pan fan, or at least the biggest fan you can be without actually reading the original story, but that’ll happen soon I promise. So when I was browsing through Goodreads instead of paying attention in class and found this one that is not just a retelling, and not just a Peter Pan retelling, but it’s a retelling of Captain Hook’s story, something I personally have never seen, I was intrigued and knew it was something I needed to read. I love when retellings tell various sides of a story and you get to see how there’s more than the original surface material and there are so many ways to tell a story. I experienced my first Peter Pan retelling with Tiger Lily last year, and it was beyond beautiful, and now this year with Lost Boy it was like giving me everything I never knew I needed. Villain origin stories are hard to come by, especially for one as famous as Hook, but Christina Henry managed to knock it out of the park and blow me away completely.
- As I always say when I read retellings, what makes a good retelling to me is the originality the author is able to bring to it and therefore make it their own story when compared to the source material. Given that Henry was telling the story of Hook, or Jamie in this case, as opposed to Peter Pan or the Darlings or even Tiger Lily, it already gave the book an originality edge. It made you see a different side of the fairytale and truly see a different side of Peter Pan. We see how he brings boys to the island, how he treats them, and how he essentially lives life. Through Jamie’s eyes, we see how much he loved Peter and how much he loved the rest of the boys, but you see how Peter never really cared about them the same way. My whole understanding of Peter Pan’s story was that he flew kids through the Second Star to the Right and brought them to Neverland to play and have fun. Never did I believe there was a darker, more sinister reason to why Peter needed all these boys. Never did I really consider how or why Peter managed to stay young, and the boys around him managed to stay young as well. Henry managed to take all of my previous thoughts and assumptions and throw together something familiar yet somehow completely different and make the story her own. That’s what makes a good retelling for me and I really think this one might just be the best.
- I had recently read another retelling of a villain origin story and it didn’t end well, given how I couldn’t really justify it, but with Jamie, it has to be the most justified and believable villain origin story. I’ve always wondered how exactly Hook could hate Peter so much and why he wants to kill him. Was it just because he was a bothersome kid? Because he had eternal youth? I couldn’t see why Hook wanted to kill Peter so much. But with Henry’s story, now I do. Watching how Jamie went from awe and love for Peter to essentially pure hatred was organic and heartbreaking, but it made sense. After seeing how the story unfolds and seeing how Jamie begins to view Peter in a negative light makes perfect sense and by the end, you essentially end up on the same side as Jamie and want to see Peter’s end too. And I think that’s also what helps make this a good villain origin story. You side with this person that you’re not entirely ready to see as a villain but you understand how and why they eventually become that villain. Even down to the small details of why Hook really loses his right hand and why he hates crocodiles, Henry thought of everything. But I also loved how it was as if Peter got his own villain origin story but it was an unexpected one, since we always perceive Peter as a hero and Hook as a villain. But we see how Peter truly is the villain in this case, in this story, and how Jamie should’ve been the hero. Jamie’s story never quite felt like a villain origin story even though it was. It’s a story that starts off as a boy having fun and enjoying life on Peter’s island and slowly becomes a story of a boy becoming the victim of another boy’s cruel tricks. I’m just in awe of how Henry spun this story and created such a justifiable villain origin story.
- Was the writing of this book absolutely perfect? Not particularly, but I had to remember how majority of the narrative was that of a boy who was 12 years old, more or less, and it felt right for the character. And as the story went on and Jamie slowly began to grow up, the language and structure reflected that, in my opinion. I think that’s why I’m willing to overlook a lot of things here. That being said, there were so many times where I’d come across certain passages and it would just stop me dead in my tracks and I’d get chills over my entire body. I can’t remember that happening with a book before, or at least recently, and it was such a thrilling experience. Watching how Jamie’s mind began to grow up, seeing how he began to lose love and faith in Peter, and ultimately seeing how losing that belief is what made him begin to grow up just grabbed hold of me and never let go. I love when writing can just get to your core like that. There’s nothing like it.
- There was a lot more gore and horror in this book than anticipated but interestingly, I feel like it fit the story. This was supposed to be a different side of Peter Pan and a different side of Neverland, which wasn’t even called Neverland but it didn’t matter. This was supposed to be more of a prequel to Peter Pan, in my opinion, and it would make sense for things to be more savage and horrific. I just never thought that it would get that violent but it does fit the story. But did there really have to be those big ass spiders? We don’t mess with giant spiders in this house, no we don’t.
- I really have nothing to complain about, but if I had to be petty I’d complain that Slightly was brought in to this story way too early and then died shortly after. I’m pretty sure he’s one of the Lost Boys that was around with the Darlings, so why write him in now? And then kill him? So rude.
THE BOTTOM LINE
- I really thought Tiger Lily was the best retelling I’d ever read, the best Peter Pan retelling too, but Lost Boy beat it immensely. I loved it because it took my favourite tale and almost flipped it on its head, making the hero the villain and the villain the hero. It showed you how the lost boys that Peter takes aren’t quite lost at all, and how living on an island where you never grow up and have fun for always isn’t all you think it to be. This is a refreshing take on such a classic tale and I don’t think I can look back on Peter Pan the same way. All children grow up eventually. Except for one. And it’s shocking to see why.
BONUS: how this book made me feel in a GIF
ABOUT THE BOOK
Title: Lost Boy: The True Story of Captain Hook
Author: Christina Henry
Release Date: July 4, 2017
Pages: 292 (Paperback)
Until next time,
What did you think of the book? Leave a comment below!