Title: Lost Boy
Author: Christina Henry
Publisher: Titan Books Ltd
Release Date: July 4th 2017
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 favourite – lost boy to his greatest enemy.
– Blurb courtesy of goodreads.com
My Thoughts On…
Jamie has been one of Peter’s lost boys for more years than he can remember. He was the first one Peter brought to the island and even after all those years he’s still Peter’s favourite, as much as Peter can have favourites because Peter is cruel and selfish and refuses to share Jamie with anyone else on the island. Lost Boy is more of a character driven book than anything else, telling Captain Hook and Peter Pan’s story through the eyes of the ‘villain’.
When I first read the blurb for Hook I was reminded of Never Never, another Peter Pan retelling that focuses on Captain Hook’s character and his past as one of Peter’s lost boys. However the two books have more differences than similarities, and taken on their own both books are great stories. Lost Boy was a dark and brutal retelling, it doesn’t shy away from showing how Peter’s lost boys die but instead reveals how replaceable they are in Peter’s eyes.
When Jamie starts seeing a different side to Peter, hating the way the boys Jamie looks after, protects, and eventually buries are nothing more to Peter than easily replaceable playmates, he starts pulling away. However Peter isn’t content with letting Jamie leave him or the island behind, and it’s the boys Jamie loves who pay Peter’s price.
The games Peter plays are typical children’s games but with a deadly end to them; there’s a lot of death and some of it is quite graphic, but all in all I loved this book. The changes in the story as Jamie starts growing up, as he starts to see Peter as he really is, were brilliantly developed throughout the story, and when it comes to dark and gruesome fairytale retelling in my opinion there’s no better author than Christina Henry.
Jamie was the first boy Peter brought to the island and he knows how to handle Peter, how to read his moods and bargain for what he wants. Jamie loves Peter, and even when those feelings change as he grows up there’s still a part of Jamie connected to the other boy. Jamie is the one who looks after the lost boys Peter brings to the island and he loves the other boys, he wants to protect them but before long he always ends up burying them which weighs heavily on his mind.
While there are plenty of lost boys on the island, a new one brought back for every one that dies, it was Jamie’s relationships with Charlie, Sal and Nod that were focused on the most. Like Jamie Nod is one of the boys who’s been on the island the longest, who has adapted to survive Peter, whereas Sal and Charlie are two of Peter’s more recent recruits and they are the two Jamie loves the most. Charlie is too young to be a playmate for Peter, and Jamie is fiercely protective of him, and Sal is the only one Jamie trusts to help him look after Charlie; more quiet than the other boys Sal isn’t taken in with Peter the way a lot of the others are.
Peter in many ways is still the same character he was in the original tale. He’s a boy who’s never grown up, who seeks out boys to join his games, and who is magic enough to attract people to him despite the danger he represents. However in Lost Boy those characteristics take a darker turn; Peter is selfish and cruel, a result of never having to face the consequences of his actions and of never having growing up to realise the weight of those choices. The games Peter plays end in death but it never seems to touch him.
I loved the relationship between Jamie and Peter. Jamie is Peter’s second, the only one who isn’t replaceable for Peter and the only one Peter would trade all the other lost boys for. It was interesting seeing how the dynamic between the two of them changed as Jamie stared to grow up in this book. At first Jamie worried about being replaced if he grew up, losing Peter’s loves, but the more he changed the more his feelings did as well, and the more it was Jamie who left Peter behind.
Like the characters and the plot the setting of Neverland in Lost Boy was close to the original, but with a darker twist to suit the story being retold. The boys swam with the mermaids in their lagoon, but if they weren’t careful they’d end up drowned by them, they fought against the pirates aboard their ship, until Peter burnt down their camp and started a feud the boys would end up paying for. In a way Lost Boy had the feel of a magical realism story, not every aspect of the world was explained but it was written in a way that meant that didn’t matter as much because it was ‘magic’.
I’ve had issues in the past with Peter Pan retellings, and I haven’t always enjoyed them, but Lost Boy is definitely an exception I loved. The plot isn’t fast paced as most of the story came from watching Jamie grow up and seeing how his relationship with Peter changed, but the character development was brilliant. That said I wouldn’t recommend Christina Henry’s fairytale inspired books to everyone because they are very dark and quite brutal at times.
What did you think of Lost Boy? Was it a favourite of yours or could you just not get into the story? Let me know.