J.M. Barries original Peter Pan was really quite dark and not at all like the Disney-fied version we all think of. Dan Elconins Never After raises that bar and throws in some zombies for good measure. The Island is Neverland like youve never seen it before.
Ricky Darlin is an angry teen. Angry at his parents, bored with his life, and just generally dissatisfied. When a mysterious but friendly-seeming fellow named Peter drops in on him in the middle of the night and offers to take him away to The Island (a tropical paradise hed been dreaming about), he jumps at the chance.
But when he gets there, nothing is as advertised. Sure, its beautiful, but it immediately becomes obvious that Peter doesnt have his best interests at heart. Ricky is rescued by a group of fellow outcasts, including Alex (who thrives on penis jokes, but is far from the sharpest tool in the shed), Nigel (who seems like the smart one, though hed rather eat than fight), Oscar/Mariah (the only girl in the group, she has a huge chip on her shoulder and Ricky is determined to find out why), and the Captain (whos last name is Hooke&hes been there the longest and seems a bit touched in the head).
If they want to make it home, back to reality, theyre going to have to capture Peter. But Peter is smart, he can fly, and he also has an army of Lost Boys and Girls (remember how I mentioned zombies? Here they are.). Ricky and crew get some help from unexpected sources (think about the Indians and Mermaids in the original story), but the outcome is never certain.
This is a fast-paced read and will definitely appeal to boys (and reluctant readers). Recommended for ages 14 and up (theres quite a bit of foul language and good heavens, if I never hear another penis joke, Ill be just fine). Theres also some romance as well and some unexpected twists and turns at the end.
I definitely enjoyed this one, but I do have a quibble with the end and how the story was wrapped up. The final resolution opened up far more questions for me than it answered and the more I think about it, the more questions I have. Even though theres an epilogue, it only answers one question out of the many. Perhaps theres a sequel in the planning (though Im not sure where it would go, plot-wise, so I dont know). Just fair warningif youre at all like me, the end may annoy you more than satisfy you.
Elconin was only fourteen when he began writing Never After. Hes a sophomore at UCLA now and Im sure well be hearing more from him. I look forward to it.