Review

Review: Second Star | Alyssa B. Sheinmel

This Review contains spoilers. 

Second Star“My Mother said we should each wish on the first star we saw, but John said that stars were like birthday cakes: you had to wish on your own, and if all three of us chose the same star – the first star – then our wishes wouldn’t come true. […] John said, he and Michael could make their wishes together on the first star we saw, but I had to make my wish on the second star.”

Published: 2015, by Square Fish.
Pages: 256
Format: Paperback
Genre: Young Adult, Contemporary, Retellings, Romance, Fantasy
Contains: Death, Grief, Mental Illness, Mental Health

‘Second Star’ tells the story of Wendy Darling, a young girl whose twin brothers went missing after a surfing accident. Confident that they were still alive, regardless of everyone else’s opinion, she sets off on a quest to find them, falling in love along the way.

Admittedly, I’ve been putting off this book for a while. I’m a huge Peter Pan fan, and after the disappointment of Great last year, I wasn’t ready for more with another retelling of my favourite book. Unfortunately, this one left me feeling very similar.

When reading, I love to fall in love with the characters, getting lost in their lives and routing for victory based off their decisions. However, I couldn’t do that with ‘Second Star’, purely because the protagonist made the stupidest decision possible every single time. Wendy Darling was characterless, stubborn and selfish throughout the entire story, and I hate having that view on a character I’ve grown up with. She was adamant about doing the opposite of every suggestion given to her, and the love triangle between her Pete, and Jas made my eyes-roll with every interaction. In 256 pages, she manages to kiss Pete, then run away after his betrayal to kiss Jas 48 hours later, before immediately falling for Pete again the moment she sees him in a crowd… then decides on Jas later that day. What?! Honestly, if I was in that situation my top priority would be the fact my siblings are missing and possibly dead, not that two pretty guys took notice of me on a beach.

The writing style was another issue I had with the book, as the writer seemed to insist on not allowing readers to think for themselves. Every metaphor or description came with further explanation on the matter, as if Sheinmel didn’t trust readers enough to understand what she was trying to describe. It was somewhat patronizing at times, and considering this novel is written for Young Adult audiences, I would assume that the writer would be aware of not having to blatantly explain everything.

The references to the original were a mix of interesting and cringe-worthy. I really enjoyed the reference to ‘second star to the right’, by having Wendy wish upon the second star numerous times throughout the novel. However, ‘Fairy Dust’ as a drug admittedly fell flat with me. Although, I can see the wish to include a magical element to a retelling of Peter Pan, it being a drug known as ‘Dust’ just made me wince. Also, why the name Pete? The majority of the characters in the story had their original names from Peter Pan, yet he was just referred to as Pete. Personally, as a character who was supposed to be desirable, Pete would not have been my first choice. The name just isn’t attractive at all.

However, the one thing I did enjoy about ‘Second Star’ was Jas. His character seemed to be the only one with depth, and had some form of development at the end of the novel. His protectiveness over Wendy was wonderful to read at times, and I’m thankful she decided him over Pete in the end.

Overall, I really didn’t like this book. The characters didn’t live up to the perfect original, the story line was infuriating majority of the time, and the cliche ending ruined the potential beautiful climax between the love interests. I would give this one star, but I really enjoyed Jas’s character.

2/5

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