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Wendy Darling: Volume 1: Stars by Colleen…

Wendy Darling: Volume 1: Stars

by Colleen Oakes

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Wendy Darling has always adhered to her parents’ and society’s rules and expectations for a sixteen-year-old girl in Victorian England–except when it comes to her secret love for the local bookshop owner’s son, Booth. When Wendy’s father finds out about her relationship with Booth, he forbids her to see the boy again. On this night, a chance to escape her constraints flies through the Darling children’s bedroom window, and his name is Peter Pan. Mesmerized by this magical boy, Wendy and her bothers, John and Michael, follow Peter on to the second star on the right and straight on till morning–to Neverland. Here the Darling children find freedom, fun, and adventure, but as they spend more time in Neverland, they begin to forget who they are and where they came from. For Wendy, Peter’s grip on her tightens and she becomes more enraptured with him. Before too long, Wendy starts to see that the veil Neverland has cast over her eyes might mask a darker and more nightmarish truth.

The last time I reviewed Colleen Oakes’s work was for her Queen of Hearts series, which is one of my favorite retelling/fantasy series. I love it because it is an example of masterful world-building and storytelling. Oakes, as I said, has a skill for balancing the classic story with her contemporary version, allowing both worlds to coexist in a new, brilliant, and lively story.

Oakes does it again with her new series, Wendy Darling, and the series’ first installment, Stars. This time, Oakes transports us to Victorian England and Neverland in an enthralling and imaginative look at J.M Barrie’s classic Peter Pan. Wendy Darling: Stars is vivid, exciting, and it sucked me in from the first pages. It is also incredibly unique for its darker exploration of this classic tale. We all know Peter as the lovable and mischievous hero that battles Captain Hook and saves Neverland time and again, but this isn’t that Peter, and this isn’t that Neverland. This looks at the “other side” what and who Peter could be inside and the truth that might lay behind the magic of Neverland.

Peter is possessive, dark, villainous, and rules the Lost Boys with a military-style hierarchy. He raids Hook’s territory like a Viking would Britannia (not quite to that extreme, but you get the point). Wendy is the typical sixteen-year-old who loves to fall in love and becomes enraptured by the boy she shouldn’t like–a boy who plays games with her life, imprisons her at his whim. There is palpable tension between the Darling children, which is a refreshing change to the bubbly original. It’s clear characters will fall, need redemption, saving, and growth. Particularly important to me was that Wendy becomes the heroine in every sense of the word. She has to become the savior for herself and her brothers. I always like seeing female characters save themselves, not needing the male to ride in on a white horse.

Oakes’s works are always well-written, lyrical, and swift. The characters are interesting, believable, and they drive the story onward in an action-packed and mysterious tale that will surely leave readers thirsty for the next volume in the series as it did me. Wendy Darling: Stars is ultimately masterful in every way.

Everyone needs to add this book to their holiday and winter shopping list; it’s unputdownable and completely thrilling. I love it and recommend it unreservedly. ( )
  AStoriedSoul | Dec 19, 2015 |
Wendy Darling: A Novel by Colleen Oakes is the first volume in the new series. It is a unique and interesting re-telling of the classic Peter Pan story!

It is a fantastical tale that is full of magic, plenty of action and suspense, a bit of romance along with some mystery as well. The story takes some rather unexpected events that will most definitely keep you on the edge of your seat. I can't wait to read the next book in this series!

Thanks to Spark Press and Netgalley for the opportunity to review this book in exchange for an honest review. ( )
  mrsrenee | Oct 17, 2015 |
I got copy of this book to review through NetGalley. Previous to this book I had read The Child Thief by Brom and Alias Hook by Lisa Jensen, both were Peter Pan retellings that I really enjoyed. This book was okay, but pretty slow and predictable. Also a quick caution this book is the start to a new series and doesn’t resolve anything.

Wendy Darling is living a perfectly respectable life in London, her only issue being her budding romance with Booth which her mother doesn’t approve of. Then Peter Pan shows up one night and whisks Wendy and her brothers to Neverland. At first Wendy is overwhelmed with joy at the beauty and freedom of Neverland. However as time goes on she realizes she is forgetting her former life and that life with the Lost Boys is not what it seems.

This book starts out very slowly (you are 30% of the way through the book before you even get to Neverland). The book follows the Disney version of Neverland (and maybe the original book which I have ironically never read) very closely in the beginning. It’s pretty boring because it’s something most of us have either seen or read before.

I had trouble engaging with the characters. Wendy is somewhat despicable, her beau Booth is right...she is not brave and she is not committed. She is blown away by Peter’s good looks and attention and is a fairly shallow heroine. This changes some as the book goes on. Probably my favorite character in the book is Wendy’s little brother Michael, who is very sweet and honest and resists the corruption of Neverland more than anyone else. Tink is an interesting character but she also seemed a bit shallow and one dimensional to me and she isn’t in the story much.

This book is marketed as showing readers the dark side of Neverland and I guess it kind of does in a very light YA kind of way. However, it was fairly predictable and never all that dark or surprising. This is just the start of a series and I wish it had been marketed as such; the story pretty much stops right in the middle without any resolution which left me frustrated and disappointed.

The most positive thing about this book is that it is beautifully written with excellent description.

I think part of my issue with this book is that I have read much better retellings of Peter Pan. Brom wrote a retelling of the Peter Pan story called The Child Thief, which was amazing and incredibly dark. Lisa Jensen wrote a spectacular retelling of the Peter Pan story called Alias Hook which I absolutely adored; this is a version that is sympathetic to Captain Hook and told an amazing twist to the Peter Pan story.

Overall I found Wendy Darling to a bit empty, fluffy, and incomplete; it’s okay but nothing special. It does have some excellent imagery, but if you are truly interested in a creative retelling of the Peter Pan story check out The Child Thief by Brom or Alias Hook by Lisa Jensen. ( )
  krau0098 | Oct 11, 2015 |
Showing 3 of 3
***** 5 out of 5 stars
A New Neverland

I'm not a fan of Peter Pan. It was never one of my "chosen" fairy tales while growing up, mainly because Peter Pan was always a little strange to me, and not in a good way. I decided to read this book because as lame as it sounds, I fell in love with the cover. Isn't it absolutely gorgeous? Yes, I know I shouldn't judge a book by it's cover, but in this one case you absolutely should!

This book went far beyond my expectations in what it could provide me, the reader. It is a thought provoking look at a fairy tale with a newly discovered feminine point of view. Oh, and the strange Peter Pan, he lives up to all his underlying questionable mannerisms. The characters are imaginatively vivid, and feel like new creations in the hands of Colleen Oakes. This is not Mary Martin flying about the nursery in search of "his" shadow. This is unattended, unsupervised teens stealing whiskey and playing war. Above all else it is Wendy Darling, and the unwritten story of young love, growing into responsibility, and facing that rift of childhood adventures as you fall into adulthood.

There are hard truths in this book, and it addresses some very real issues that we deal with today in our society, but it never beats you over the head with it. I love that Colleen Oakes assumed her audience was intelligent enough to read the tone of her narrative and understand the pivotal points without being directly told.

I highly recommend this novel for many reasons, and I hope that others who are or are not fans of Peter Pan will put that aside and look at this as a new story. It's one that needs to be read.

Review by: Stacy Palm
Full Reviews Available at: http://www.thebookendfamily.weebly.co...
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"Wendy Darling has a perfectly agreeable life with her parents and brothers in wealthy London, as well as a budding romance with Booth, the neighborhood bookseller's son. But one night, while their parents are at a ball, the charmingly beautiful Peter Pan comes to the Darling children's nursery, and dazzled by this flying boy with god-like powers they follow him out of the window and straight on to morning into Neverland, an intoxicating island of freedom. As time passes in Neverland, Wendy realizes that this Lost Boy's paradise of turquoise seas, mermaids, and pirates holds terrible secrets rooted in blood and greed. As Peter's grasp on her heart tightens, she struggles to remember where she came from and begins to suspect that this island of dreams, and the boy who desires her, have the potential to transform into an everlasting nightmare."--Publisher's description.… (more)

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