Tick tock tick tock: it’s time for some more contemporary novels inspired by Peter Pan. I say “more” because a few years ago my fellow Book Rioter Eric Smith wrote this list of YA novels inspired by Peter Pan. My own explorations in Never(stop)land began only a few months ago, when I read Peter Darling by Austin Chant. This sent me tumbling into the abundant world of modern novels inspired by Peter Pan. Here are some of the best.
Unhooked by Lisa Maxwell
Combine Peter Pan with Miss Peregrine’s Home for Peculiar Children and you’ve got Unhooked by Lisa Maxwell. Gwendolyn Allister has spent her life being hustled from pillar to post by her increasingly jumpy mother. Of course, it isn’t until Gwen and her best friend Olivia are kidnapped and taken to the shadowy Neverland that Gwen realises her poor old mum may have had a point. Sea hags, pirates, fairies, and dashing heroes add just the right touch of Panish magic and mayhem to the mix.
Peter Darling by Austin Chant
It took me far too long to get around to reading Peter Darling, mainly because I never particularly liked J.M. Barrie’s original novel. Luckily for me, Austin Chant has a talent for creating flawed, incredibly likable characters. In Peter Darling it’s been ten years since Peter “grew up” and returned to life as Wendy Darling. An impulsive returned to Neverland is a temporary relief, but then Peter discovers that a lot of things have changed: especially his old nemesis: James Hook. The result is a thoughtful exploration of lost childhood and the compromises we think we have to make in order to properly grow up.
Nora & Kettle by Lauren Nicolle Taylor
The first installment in Lauren Nicolle Taylor’s Paper Stars series, Nora & Kettle is bittersweet and completely enthralling. It’s set post-WWII and focuses on the parallel lives of Kettle, a Japanese American orphan, and Nora, the daughter of the civil rights lawyer representing interned Japanese American citizens. As much a series of short stories a traditional novel; Nora and Kettle spend most of the book orbiting each other but never meeting. Nora’s father is abusive and the catalyst for the protagonists joining forces is when Nora is nearly killed and Kettle rescues her.
Lost Boi by Sassafras Lowrey
Danika Ellis has already reviewed Lost Boi by Sassafras Lowrey for Book Riot and there isn’t much I can say about it that she hasn’t already said far better. However! It’s worth reiterating that this is the book for exploring greater themes around growing up and how the true weight of adulthood might have altered Peter Pan’s world. Considering the heavy subjects ze are dealing with (poverty, addiction, assault, etc) Lowrey has an incredibly light touch and hir use of the original text reads like the best kind of fan fiction. And I mean that in the Michael Sheen positive-beautiful-connective sense!
Everland by Wendy Spinale
Show me the person who claims that they don’t want a dark, twisted, steampunk dystopian take on Peter Pan and I will show you a liar and a killjoy. In Everland, London has been bombed and in the aftermath a mysterious virus carries off most of the survivors. The only adults to survive are Captain Hanz Otto Oswald Kretschmer and his gang of Marauders. Captain Hook is convinced that the children who survived are the key to the cure, and so he stalks the Darling siblings, Pete, and the Lost Boys across the destroyed city.