Review: Lost in the Never Woods by Aiden Thomas

Alexis:

Well, my laptop stopped charging, and I had to wait to get a new charging port. It’s hard updating a blog without my laptop! Thankfully, it’s all fixed now, so time for another book review!

Lost in the Never Woods is a modern day Peter Pan retelling that takes places when Wendy turns eighteen years old. A string of child disappearances all keep coming back to her, only reminding her of when her own two little brothers disappeared years ago without a trace. And then Peter Pan shows up in Wendy’s town.

I enjoyed Thomas’ writing style in Cemetery Boys, and I likewise enjoyed it in this one. It was spookier and less lighthearted than Cemetery Boys, while keeping the heartwarming magic of Peter Pan. 

The basic plot reminded me of the middle grade series Peter and the Starcatchers, which I read when I was younger, so I think if you enjoyed that series, you’ll like this book. I liked the themes of childhood and trauma that Thomas explores; this book focuses a lot more on Wendy’s trauma and emotions than plot. I’m also always a sucker for a book featuring spooky woods.

My one main critique is that the final plot reveal at the end wasn’t my favorite. Also, the characters weren’t as well-rounded as I would have liked. There’s a smaller spoilery critique that I’ll include down below. But overall, I enjoyed this one. 

VERDICT: ⭐⭐⭐⭐/5

SPOILERS BELOW:

Okay, so Peter Pan romance, right? I don’t have a problem with that except, well, Peter is a child. He goes through a weird growth spurt in this book and ends up being physically around Wendy’s age by the end, but mentally, I believe he was still around 13? I don’t know, it was a little weird having them have a romance at the end when Peter just ends up going back to being a child. As much as I love romance, I almost wish this book had focused more on friendship rather than a really slow burn romance.

Review: Everything Under by Daisy Johnson

This is a DUAL Review!

“I’d always understood that the past did not die just because we wanted it to. The past signed to us: clicks and cracks in the night, misspelled words, the jargon of adverts, the bodies that attracted us or did not that, the sounds that reminded us of this or that. The past was not a trailing behind us but an anchor.” -Daisy Johnson, Everything Under

Anna: Read: 12/17/18

I like lots of things about this book. l love Daisy Johnson’s writing style and enjoyed reading about Gretel’s complicated relationship with her mother. I love character driven “what happened” narratives, and this one intrigued me from the start.

This is a very ambitious book that tackles mother and daughter relationships, dementia, sexuality, adoption, abandonment, and homelessness. I was left with the the feeling that there was too much going on. There’s lots of good tension throughout the book with what happened to Marcus, and with the Bonak.

I really enjoyed the parts with Gretel’s mother and I wasn’t sure the point of making it the retelling of a certain myth that you figure out later in the book. The modern retelling didn’t enhance the story in any way. Coincidence is definitely a theme here that is a big part of classical myth, but I’m not sure I entirely bought the ending. It was beautiful writing all the way through, but it just felt too random and jarring.

Alexis: Read 12/22/18

I’m mostly going to agree with Anna here. Johnson’s writing style is lyrical and ethereal, made more so by the lack of quotation marks and her plentiful metaphorical descriptions. As for the genre, I would describe this as a modern magical realism book. Half the time, I wasn’t sure if what Gretel and her mother see and talk about is real or just in their heads.

I liked the emphasis on words, whether Gretel and her mother’s words or the very real words of Gretel’s work as a lexicographer. Overall, I enjoyed learning about Gretel and Sarah’s relationship. Marcus was an interesting character, and he felt more real to me than either Gretel or Sarah, though I’m not sure certain if him being trans worked for the book as a whole. On the other hand, Fiona’s character felt real and raw, and I felt that she was a better representation of a trans character than Marcus. I also wasn’t really a fan of the jumping around in point of views; it interrupted the flow of the book for me.

VERDICT: We both had similar mixed feelings about this book, and give it a solid 3 out of 5 books.