J.M. Sullivan | Second Star (Bleeding Ink Publishing)

352 Pages | $13.99 paperback, $5.39 Kindle Edition

When it comes to fairy tales, I’m always on the lookout for a good retelling—stories that incorporate elements from the ones we all know and love, but with their own spin as well. Second Star is the first novel in J.M. Sullivan’s Neverland Transmissions series and I got sold immediately after reading the synopsis. It’s a retelling of Peter Pan and, despite my not remembering the original tale, the synopsis brings together two of my favorite things: retellings and space. Seriously, what could go wrong? I should be screaming from the rooftops.

Except I’m not. So really, what went wrong? Quite a bit.

We spend nearly 30% of Second Star focused on when Wendy first starts the Londonierre Academy before she becomes Captain and is sent on a rescue mission to retrieve Captain Hooke. Another 40% when she is captain and goes on the trip with her crew, only to be stranded on a never-aging planet called Neverland. Within that time she meets Peter and the Lost Boys while trying to find Hooke and fix her ship to return home while finding out a much more sinister force called The Shadow is at play on the planet.

Then the last 30% is spent on the ending, which shot Second Star all the way from “This isn’t too bad” to “What?” in a matter of chapters. Everything gets resolved very quickly and very easily and if there is one thing I hate in a book, it’s a very easy solution solved in around five chapters. We get Captain Hooke built up to be some menacing bad guy (according to Peter, but he didn’t sound horrible) rather than the hero Wendy’s history books make him out to be and all we get at the end is something incredibly disappointing and convenient.

Please. I did not suffer for a month of reading slumps and struggling through this book to get my hopes shot lower than my Calculus grade (an absolute struggle). But it did.

Then there’s the romance. Not even necessary to the story, it came in like a wrecking ball. I’m usually not a fan of insta-love when I see one, but I’ll admit there are good ones out there sometimes. The insta-love between Peter and Wendy in Second Star? Did not buy it, did not want. Enemies to love triangle? Shoehorned in with the insta-love and the ending of the story.

Second Star by J.M. Sullivan isn’t the worst Peter Pan retelling I’ve come across though. The concept was amazing and I absolutely loved it! But the execution? Not exactly my cup of tea. | Hannah Sophia Lin

Find out more about the Neverland Transmissions series at https://jmsullivanbooks.com/books/the-neverland-transmissions/

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