Review: Seas (Wendy Darling #2)

Book Title: Seas (Wendy Darling #2)

Book Author: Colleen Oakes

Book Rating: ☆☆☆☆ (4 out of 5 stars)

Published: September 20, 2016

Synopsis: “Wendy Darling: Seas finds Wendy and Michael aboard the dreaded Sudden Night, a dangerous behemoth sailed by the infamous Captain Hook and his bloodthirsty crew. In this exotic world of mermaids, spies, and pirate feuds, Wendy finds herself struggling to keep her family above the waves. Hunted by the twisted boy who once stole her heart and struggling to survive in the whimsical Neverland sea, returning home to London now seems like a distant dream—and the betrayals have just begun.

Will Wendy find shelter with Peter’s greatest enemy, or is she a pawn in a much darker game—one that could forever alter not only her family’s future but also the soul of Neverland itself?

Colleen Oakes’ twisted re-telling of Peter Pan continues in this adventurous sequel to the first installment.  While the first book in the series was good, I definitely prefer this follow-up.  Seas was much more exciting and the plot line seemed to move along much more smoothly.  The story picks up exactly where the last left off: With Wendy Darling and her brother Michael being taken on to Captain Hook’s ship after escaping from the sadistic Peter Pan.  Wendy and Hook become unlikely allies in the fight against Peter Pan, and they each begin to share with each other their knowledge of Pan in the hopes that they can eventually find a way to defeat him and escape Neverland.

One of my favorite things about Oakes’ books are the wonderfully detailed descriptions that she paints with her words.  I could see Neverland…I could felt as though I could sense the rocking of the pirate ship, feel the pearlescent sands of Port Duette under my feet, and there were even moments when my heart pounded with suspense.  As I mentioned before, I felt that this installment had much more action than its predecessor, and I enjoyed watching Wendy develop into a strong woman willing to do whatever it takes to protect her brothers and herself, and to find their way back home.

Like its predecessor, this book ends with…not really a cliffhanger, but a surprising turn that will leave you wanting more!  I can’t wait for the last book in the trilogy to be released later this year!

Disclosure: I received a free copy of this book through Netgalley.

Review: Stars (Wendy Darling #1)

Book Title: Stars (Wendy Darling #1)

Book Author: Colleen Oakes

Book Rating: ☆☆☆ (3 out of 5 stars)

Published: October 12, 2015

Synopsis: “Wendy Darling has a perfectly agreeable life with her parents and brothers in wealthy London, as well as a budding romance with Booth, the neighborhood bookseller’s son. But while their parents are at a ball, the charmingly beautiful Peter Pan comes to the Darling children’s nursery and—dazzled by this flying boy with god-like powers—they follow him out of the window and straight on to morning, to Neverland, a intoxicating island of feral freedom.

As time passes in Neverland, Wendy realizes that this Lost Boy’s paradise of turquoise seas, mermaids, and pirates holds terrible secrets rooted in blood and greed. As Peter’s grasp on her heart tightens, she struggles to remember where she came from—and begins to suspect that this island of dreams, and the boy who desires her—have the potential to transform into an everlasting nightmare.

This is actually the second Peter Pan retelling that I have read this year, the first of which was Neverland by Shari Arnold. This retelling was much less modern, and more closely resembled the classic fairy tale that we all know.  I have read and enjoyed the first two installments of Colleen Oakes’s other fairy tale series, based on the Queen of Hearts from Alice in Wonderland, so I was very eager to read her spin on Peter Pan.

We first meeting the Darling family in early 1900’s London.  Wendy is a sixteen year girl with a blossoming romance with the local bookseller’s son, Booth.  When Wendy’s father learns of this romance, he forbids her from seeing her love ever again.  Utterly heartbroken, Wendy is easily lured one night from her bedroom to Neverland by the mysterious, flying Peter Pan, with her younger brothers (John and Michael) in tow.  While at first Neverland seems like a magical, wonderful place, it later becomes very clear that there are some very evil things lying just under the surface.  The truth about Neverland was slowly revealed (maybe a bit too slowly?), and Wendy becomes desperate to save herself and her young brothers from its horrors.

The story kept me engaged, and the descriptive writing was beautiful, however, the dialog left a lot to be desired.  I thought more than once that the conversations seemed very awkward and strange.  Overall, I think the best way to summarize this book would be to imagine the original Peter Pan story, add a dash of Lord of the Flies, with a generous helping of angsty YA romance.  And while this book didn’t completely live up to my expectations, I will definitely be reading the next installment in the series…Oakes has set the series up to take a very interesting turn.

Disclosure: I received a free copy of this book through Netgalley.

Review: The Princess Bride

Book Title: The Princess Bride

Book Author: William Golding

Book Rating: ☆☆☆☆ (4 out of 5 stars)

Synopsis: “As Florin and Guilder teeter on the verge of war, the reluctant Princess Buttercup is devastated by the loss of her true love, kidnapped by a mercenary and his henchmen, rescued by a pirate, forced to marry Prince Humperdinck, and rescued once again by the very crew who absconded with her in the first place. In the course of this dazzling adventure, she’ll meet Vizzini – the criminal philosopher who’ll do anything for a bag of gold; Fezzik – the gentle giant; Inigo – the Spaniard whose steel thirsts for revenge; and Count Rugen – the evil mastermind behind it all. Foiling all their plans and jumping into their stories is Westley, Princess Buttercup’s one true love and a very good friend of a very dangerous pirate.”

I have seen the film adaption of this story literally dozens of times, so it is a quite strange that I am just now getting around to reading the book.  This is a story that really does have something for everyone: adventure, romance, action, suspense, quests for revenge, and oodles of humor and witty dialog.  I don’t really feel that this book really added anything of real importance that wasn’t depicted in the movie, but I did really enjoyed the back stories for Inigo and Fezzik, which made me love and appreciate their characters even more.  This book is played off as an “abridged” version of S. Morgenstern’s classic tale.  Of course, Morgenstern didn’t exist, and Goldman’s “abridgement” is all to add to the humor of the story.

This book would have easily been five stars for me, except for all of the asides and commentary from Goldman.  I know that they were intended to be humorous, but I felt that they were more if a distraction than anything else and disrupted the flow of the story.  Other than that, if you love the movie, then I think you will like this book!  Unfortunately, I am one of the few that prefers to the movie to the book, but nevertheless, this is an excellent novel.

Review: The 100 (The Hundred #1)

Book Title: The 100 (The Hundred #1)

Book Author: Kass Morgan

Book Rating: ☆ (1 out of 5 stars)

Synopsis: “In the future, humans live in city-like spaceships orbiting far above Earth’s toxic atmosphere. No one knows when, or even if, the long-abandoned planet will be habitable again. But faced with dwindling resources and a growing populace, government leaders know they must reclaim their homeland… before it’s too late.

Now, one hundred juvenile delinquents are being sent on a high-stakes mission to recolonize Earth. After a brutal crash landing, the teens arrive on a savagely beautiful planet they’ve only seen from space. Confronting the dangers of this rugged new world, they struggle to form a tentative community. But they’re haunted by their past and uncertain about the future. To survive, they must learn to trust – and even love – again.”

So, the first thing to note about this book is that it is told from the perspective of four different people.  Yes, four.  Also of note is the fact that apparently none of these narrators are able to make good decisions as they each immediately make an individual choice that could get themselves or other people killed.  The premise of the story, in which this group of individuals are residing on a space craft because Earth is no longer hospitable, would normally be right up my alley; I love a fresh spin in the popular post-apocalyptic genre. But this is not really what this story is about. This story is about a group of teenagers who make selfish decisions based on whatever emotion they are feeling at the time, when the world has literally fallen apart.

Were it not for the plot synopsis that is provided for the book, I honestly wouldn’t have really known what was going on for the first several chapters.  We are told that these people are on some sort of space craft, but it is not explained why or how long they’ve been there or any meaningful details about their way of life.  I truly feel that the lack of world-building is the author’s biggest failure with this novel.  Readers have to have some kind of background to make the story work, but the details provided were very sparse and vague.  Besides what is going on up in space, we are given few details about what happened to Earth as well.  Apparently there are fears that the levels of radiation are too high for anyone to live there, but no explanation or background is given for this.  There are also numerous “flash backs” throughout the book, and the way they were written made it very difficult to keep up with what was happening in the present and the past.

This book is an excellent example of the reason why I often hesitate beginning a new book series because I always feel an obligation to finish all of the books even if I don’t like the first.  However, in this situation, I have no problem not returning to this fictional world.  I have never publicly rated a book as “one star” before, but this one definitely fits the bill.  I watched most of the first season of the TV series that is based on this book, and you are honestly better off watching that if you are still on the fence about whether or not to begin this series.

Disclosure: I received a free copy of this book through Netgalley.