Ten years ago, Peter Pan left Neverland to grow up, leaving behind his adolescent dreams of boyhood and resigning himself to life as Wendy Darling. Growing up, however, has only made him realize how inescapable his identity as a man is.
But when he returns to Neverland, everything has changed: the Lost Boys have become men, and the war games they once played are now real and deadly. Even more shocking is the attraction Peter never knew he could feel for his old rival, Captain Hook—and the realization that he no longer knows which of them is the real villain.
Oh, I really wanted to love this book, but I feel like it fell short for me in a couple of ways. Now, I still think there’s a lot of great stuff in this one, we read it for our HEA Book Club over on r/fantasy and quite a few people loved it, so I definitely think it’s a case of expectations and personal pet peeves which made this one not quite a fit for me.
There are some things in this book that I don’t want to spoil because they’re not given away in the blurb. I’ll say this though, it was really great revisiting these familiar characters, with a bit of a twist. The author utilizes the character of Peter to explore gender identity and I really loved that we get a trans main character here. I appreciated Peter’s struggle, not with himself because he knows who he is, but with the people and the world around him and how they want to box him into something he isn’t. This is a bit different from the journey of self-discovery that I usually love in stories, but that isn’t to say that Peter has everything figured out. Oh no, far from it. He’s kind of a big old mess. Baggage for days.
The use of the Neverland setting as escapism, as somewhere you go and make the world the way you want it to be, fits really great with the overall themes of the story and what both of the main characters are going through. They both have things they’re hiding, things they don’t want others to know about their past selves. I have to say that I really felt for Peter at one point, not wanting to give that world up because it’s the one place he’s felt he’s truly been allowed to be himself. But, Neverland is still not the real world and can you ever really be happy there if everything is made up?
So, I loved the themes, I loved Peter’s struggles once we got to know him a bit, I even came to love James Hook by the end of the story. What went wrong? Well, let’s talk about the characters for a bit. Peter Pan is kind of a jerk. Well, not kind of, he really is a jerk. I think the author did an awesome job reminding me just what an insufferable selfish prat Peter Pan can be! But honestly I spent much of the book being annoyed with Peter the times when I wasn’t empathizing with him. And it took me a while to empathize, that came later, because at first he was so very, very, annoying. Enter Hook. He’s also annoying. The whole constant rivalry between them felt stupid and forced like ‘well, we hate each other and we have to annihilate each other because it’s what we do!’. Which, to be fair, was probably the point. They both had so much to work out and Neverland bing what it is and how it works. Still! I couldn’t help but be annoyed especially when innocent people got dragged into their nonsense. Stop dragging people into your nonsense, that’s selfish and rude!
Also, I went into this expecting romance, and it’s there, but it took entirely too long to get going in my book. They could have fought slightly less and started bonding a bit earlier and I think it would have worked better for me, but again, this is personal preference I think — a lot of other people didn’t have an issue with that. (What can I say, I’m picky!)
By far my favorite part of the book was the ending. Some of the loveliest bits of writing, the rawest bits, were the real moments between the characters once they’re truly faced with each other for the first time. It was like warm hugs all around and I loved that bit. I wish we had been able to get more of that! The ending was just a perfect bit of sweetness. I wish I had loved the rest of the book as much as I did those last few pages. 3.5/5 stars.
13 thoughts on “Book Review: Peter Darling by Austin Chant”
I’m glad you enjoyed this! Peter Pan was one of my favs as a kid ❤ I'm not much in to reading retellings but I just might give this one a go! Great review
Thank you! If you pick it up, hope you enjoy it!
I’m glad you liked this! Doesn’t seem like my cup of tea, though, I think I like Barrie’s Peter Pan too much 😉
I do love the original!
Probably not for me tbh – shame it didn’t wow you but it doesn’t sound like a bad read overall – just didn’t blow you away.
Yeah, it’s got some good things going for it, I wish I had liked it a little bit more.
Well it’s good the ending really worked and I’m still super curious about this! Great review!
It’s an interesting one. We read it for book club and a lot of people really loved it. 🙂
Great review! I see your points and yes Peter is quite the jerk in general. I still want to read this book tho purely for the trans main character 🙂
I did really enjoy reading about the trans main character, I think the author’s perspective brought a lot to the book and I appreciated that aspect of it for sure.
thank you for your review (I’m doing further research into this book) and i’m trying to make up my mind about Wendy Darling getting kind of? sorta? erased thing (really unsure of the terminology here) because Wendy is my favourite peter pan character (followed by Tinkerbell and then peter himself even if I am just going of the films and the BBC dramatized audiobooks I listened to once upon a time); she is the hero of the story and we see the world from her pov… I’m not sure where I’m going to this but if you have any thoughts about Wendy in regards to this book will be nice
I hope you respond as I was really excited to learn about this book and then I read the words Wendy transitions into Peter and Peter x Hook romance and my excitement took a small nosedive so here I am reading every review of the book I can find
Well Wendy is still sort of there. This is definitely an interesting take on the story where it takes what you expect and twists them just so. That being said, I wasn’t super keen on the romantic aspect of the book until the very end.