Monday, May 17, 2021

Lost in the Never Woods - Aiden Thomas

Summary: When children go missing in the small coastal town of Astoria, people look to Wendy for answers.

It's been five years since Wendy and her two brothers went missing in the woods, but when the town’s children start to disappear, the questions surrounding her brothers’ mysterious circumstances are brought back into light. Attempting to flee her past, Wendy almost runs over an unconscious boy lying in the middle of the road, and gets pulled into the mystery haunting the town.

Peter, a boy she thought lived only in her stories, claims that if they don't do something, the missing children will meet the same fate as her brothers. In order to find them and rescue the missing kids, Wendy must confront what's waiting for her in the woods. (Summary and pic from goodreads.com)

My Review: Some days you’re just going along, minding your own business, having your own memories of fairy tales and cultural icons, and then a book comes along and changes all of that. What was once familiar and normal is suddenly questioned, and the very nature of the fairytale is turned on its head. Well, folks, this is that book. Here I was, going along, remembering Peter Pan as that friendly fellow in the Disney movie, and then this book happened.

This book had a pervasive sense of creepiness and dread throughout it. Indeed, you aren’t sure what you’re supposed to think and who is the “bad guy” and who isn’t. I mean, Peter Pan is all jolly and good, right? It’s normal to basically kidnap children and take them to faraway places without their parents and such, right? Well, maybe not, and Thomas feels free to question the very fabric of our Peter Pan believing society and create a book that puts all of this in doubt.

I’ve read quite a few retellings of fairytales, as I’m sure you have as it’s a thing these days, and I’ve enjoyed them. I think it’s fun to re-examine childhood beliefs and just see where it takes you, especially when the story is re-examined and put in a modern framework. I think too often we just accept the cultural stories we’re told, and then we find ourselves being ok with a story that is maybe not as innocent as we had originally thought. It’s important we question our fundamental beliefs at times, right? And it’s not like this is an earth-shattering soul-wrenching thing to do regarding fairy tales. It’s okay to look again and reframe it and maybe examine what it really means. I like that Thomas did just this, and although this book wasn’t the jolly Neverland adventure that I was familiar with, it was interesting and captivating and created a mood I wasn’t familiar associating with Peter Pan.

As I’ve mentioned before, I appreciate how YA readers are able to accept magical realism as normal and every day, and this book did just that. But while, considering the topic, you might think this books is aimed at younger teens, this is not the case. This very much has some older young adult themes, and the characters involved are high school seniors, so don’t be fooled and get this for your 12-year-old. There is some sinister content, and it reflects many characteristics of a true crime novel, involving kidnap and murder of children. Seriously. It was so trippy reading about Peter Pan in a true crime novel.

I thought this book was inventive, and did a good job walking the line between true crime and fairytale retelling (never thought I’d write that sentence). The intermarrying of these two things wasn’t always perfect and seamless, but I do think that if you’re into YA and especially YA retellings of fairytales, you should absolutely check this out.

My Rating: 3.5 Stars

For the sensitive reader: There is language and violence towards children. It isn’t full-scale adult murder novel, but it is certainly it’s little sibling who desires to get there.

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