Book Review: The Neverland Wars by Audrey Greathouse

by - 9:50:00 PM

Title: The Neverland Wars
Author: Audrey Greathouse
Pages: 302
Genre: YA Fantasy
Release Date: 09 May 2016

From Goodreads: "Magic can do a lot—give you flight, show you mermaids, help you taste the stars, and… solve the budget crisis? That's what the grown-ups will do with it if they ever make it to Neverland to steal its magic and bring their children home. However, Gwen doesn't know this. She's just a sixteen-year-old girl with a place on the debate team and a powerful crush on Jay, the soon-to-be homecoming king. She doesn't know her little sister could actually run away with Peter Pan, or that she might have to chase after her to bring her home safe. Gwen will find out though—and when she does, she'll discover she's in the middle of a looming war between Neverland and reality. She'll be out of place as a teenager in Neverland, but she won't be the only one. Peter Pan's constant treks back to the mainland have slowly aged him into adolescence as well. Soon, Gwen will have to decide whether she's going to join impish, playful Peter in his fight for eternal youth… or if she's going to scramble back to reality in time for the homecoming dance."

Thank you to YA Bound Book Tours for providing me with a copy of this book in exchange for review!

The Neverland Wars is a great representation about what it means to "grow up." Gwen is a sixteen year old high school student whose main concern in life is who she plans to go to homecoming with and getting her homework done on time. She has a younger sister named Rosemary who she loves telling fantastical stories to, despite her parents discouraging her at every turn. One night, when Rosemary accidentally leaves her window open while sleeping, she is kidnapped. Suddenly, Gwen's world is turned upside down. She learns that magic is real, and it's being used by adults to power things like cell phones and is helping to keep the country afloat by solving the budget crisis. When Rosemary returns to bring Gwen to Neverland with her and Peter Pan, someone who Gwen was led to believe was merely a fictional character, she discovers there is a war between Neverland and reality. Will Gwen stay to help Peter fight for Neverland, or go back to reality just in time for homecoming?

I really enjoyed the similarities between the Peter Pan story that I already love and The Neverland Wars. While reading, I liked being able to spot the parallels between characters from each story. Gwen was obviously supposed to be Wendy, and I loved that when she ran off to Neverland, she brought a blue sundress. I thought that was a cute touch that the author added in to the story as a little nod to the Disney movie adaptation. Peter was, well, Peter, but I really enjoyed the twist of him aging each time he leaves Neverland and goes to reality. It was a different take on the story that added an interesting element to Peter as a character. The aspects of Neverland such as the mermaids, Lost Boys, and faries were all so magical and really added to the feeling of being in the magical world of Neverland.

The idea that magic was powering things like cell phones and satellites was certainly different. Also, the fact that adults were using magic to basically help keep the country from not falling apart and trying to use it to fix the budget crisis was odd. The country is apparently $18 trillion dollars in debt but is still functioning, and it's all because of magic. I understood why it was part of the book, and I felt like it actually helped push the plot along. It showed that adults were pretty much taking the fun and wonder out of being a child by using magic to make things that may be considered "adult things" function. Where a child would use magic to create fantastical worlds and expand their imagination, the adults are using it to power things like cell phones, which is something children aren't exposed to until they grow up. I think that my favourite aspect of the book was about growing up, and having to make the transition from childhood to a teenager to eventually an adult, and the feelings you may have about growing up, either being scared to grow up or even excited about getting older.

To me, The Neverland Wars felt very character-driven versus plot-driven. The book was in a somewhat odd format, where the main character was Gwen, but there were multiple points of view throughout the chapters. It would switch from Gwen, to Rosemary, to maybe a Lost Boy or Peter, all in one chapter. Unfortunately, multiple POV is not my cup of tea, so it kind of took away from my enjoyment of the story. I still enjoyed reading the book, but maybe not as much as I might have if it had stayed in Gwen's perspective throughout the book. I definitely feel as if I didn't get a lot of plot of the book, as well. It felt like a book that was more about the characters than moving the story along. Don't get me wrong, character-driven books are great! I just wanted to learn more about the "war" between reality and Neverland and maybe a bit more about reality and how the magic really helps keep the country functioning when it would otherwise collapse completely without it. Hopefully there will be a sequel where this will be explained more, because I'd love to read about it!

While the book started a bit slow with some not-so-interesting backstory about Gwen and how she's handling adulting and such, it certainly took off more once she went to Neverland with Rosemary. The book mostly takes place in Neverland, with Gwen returning to reality towards almost the very end of the book, and the Neverland portion is a beautifully written part of the story. Audrey Greathouse was able to paint a lovely picture in my mind and I found myself wishing I hadn't grown up and could be young and visit Neverland myself! I do wish that there had been a bit more of the "war" aspect of the book, as the title suggests. Again, hopefully there is a sequel that will expand more on the war part, as well as a few other things.

If you love Peter Pan retellings, then definitely pick up The Neverland Wars by Audrey Greathouse. It has all of the world of Peter Pan that you love with a bit of a twist on the story and all of the hope of a sequel! I'm super excited to see where the story goes with the way that this book ended, and can't wait to read more writing by Audrey Greathouse!

This book definitely makes you wonder, is growing up all it's cracked up to be?

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