REVIEW: Peter and the Starcatchers by Dave Barry & Ridley Pearson

REVIEW: Peter and the Starcatchers by Dave Barry & Ridley PearsonPeter and the Starcatchers (Peter and the Starcatchers #1) by Dave Barry, Ridley Pearson
Published: Disney Publishing Worldwide (2004), Paperback, 480pg
Source: Bought
Genres: Fantasy, Fiction

Don't even think of starting this book unless you're sitting in a comfortable chair and have lots of time. A fast-paced, impossible-to-put-down adventure awaits as the young orphan Peter and his mates are dispatched to an island ruled by the evil King Zarboff. They set sail aboard the Never Land, a ship carrying a precious and mysterious trunk in its cargo hold, and the journey quickly becomes fraught with excitement and danger.
Discover richly developed characters in the sweet but sophisticated Molly, the scary but familiar Black Stache, and the fearless Peter. Treacherous battles with pirates, foreboding thunderstorms at sea, and evocative writing immerses the reader in a story that slowly and finally reveals the secrets and mysteries of the beloved Peter Pan. (from Goodreads)

I can’t actually remember reading the original Peter Pan, though of course I’m familiar with the story. I’ve seen the Disney movie, and Hook, and parts of the 2003 movie and Finding Neverland. So I suppose I’m about as familiar as I can be with the canon without actually reading the source.

Going off of that premise, I picked up this book because a) the cover was shiny, b) it was a lot of pages for a good price, c) I was a little bit familiar with Mr. Pearson from his Kingdom Keepers novel (haven’t read them either, but I have listened to the first 10 minutes of the audiobook. Does that count for familiarity?), and d) it looked potentially awesome. Turns out it’s unfortunately not as awesome as it could have been, but it was fun for what was there.

I think my biggest problem with the book was that the reason for all the magic in the Peter Pan world was because of some mysterious “star stuff” that no-one knows anything about but that just appears out of the sky occasionally. It just seems kind of…like an easy solution. You know? Like a Deus ex machina, almost. It was nearly boring, but luckily the rest of the story was interesting enough to keep me reading.

The writing was good, just the right sort of thing for this story. I liked Molly, and I liked Peter and the other kids, and Black Stache? Total lols. Obviously he’s Captain Hook, just without the hook part yet. He’s so ridiculously slimy and mean: perfect villain fodder, though not really a complicated character. Smee’s there as well, of course, and together they provide most of the comic relief. I was grateful for that relief as some parts of Peter and the Starcatchers drag. Not horribly, but just a little.

It’s not as swashbuckling as you might think from the summary; there’s pirates and everything, but it doesn’t have the same feeling to it as, say, Captain Blood. I was a bit disappointed by that: I wanted it to be more adventurous.

Part of the problem with these re-imaginings is that sometimes they come out less fun than the original source, and I think that’s what happened here. It’s magical, and it’s exciting, but it’s doesn’t evoke a sense of wonder. There’s no ‘WOW!” feeling. It was more “AHA, I know that thing. It’s the croc that hunts Hook” and so on.

For all that I’m complaining about it, and about how it’s not how I would have done it, I did enjoy reading it and I do plan to read the next book in the series. I had fun, for the most part, and eventually enjoyed the journey to the end.

So, I suppose if you’re looking for a more mature, realistic Peter Pan, this is the book to get. If you want to stay more in the swashbuckling realm, this book may not be for you. I enjoyed reading it, though, and you might too.

Read: April 2009

7 thoughts on “REVIEW: Peter and the Starcatchers by Dave Barry & Ridley Pearson”

  1. I have been wondering whether to read this for a while, leaning towards no… I still haven’t read a review of it that said WOW this was brilliant!, so I guess that’s what I’m waiting for. I’m all about the swashbuckling!

    1. It’s not a WOW book, unfortunately, but I liked it enough to buy the sequel. I’m kinda hoping the second book will be better than the first? I’ll let you know, lol. 😀

  2. I’m thinking of getting this book but leading towards no… My mom’s doctor said to me it would be good she read it tell me if I should read it

    1. If you’re not sure you want to spend money on it, maybe get it from the library instead? I kind of wish I had done that– it’s a nice book, but it’s not really a keeper.

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