May 20, 2016

Review: Everland by Wendy Spinale

Title: Everland
Author: Wendy Spinale
Publisher: Scholastic Press
Publishing Date: May 10, 2016
Pages/Format: 320, eARC
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Forget the story of Peter Pan you know. Because in Everland, the only way to grow up is to survive.

London has been destroyed in a blitz of bombs and disease. The only ones who have survived are children, among them Gwen Darling and her siblings, Joanna and Mikey. They spend their nights scavenging and their days avoiding the ruthless Marauders -- the German Army led by Captain Hanz Otto Oswald Kretschmer.

Unsure if the virus has spread past England's borders but desperate to leave, Captain Hook hunts for a cure, which he thinks can be found in one of the survivors. He and his Marauders stalk the streets snatching children for experimentation. None ever return. Until the day they grab Joanna. As Gwen sets out to save her, she meets a mysterious boy named Pete. Pete offers the assistance of his gang of Lost Boys and the fierce sharpshooter Bella, who have all been living in a city hidden underground. But in a place where help has a steep price and every promise is bound by blood, it will cost Gwen. And are she, Pete, the Lost Boys, and Bella enough to outsmart Captain Hook?

Book in One Word: Disappointing

Peter Pan retellings are my kryptonite. Beauty and the Beast may be my favorite fairy tale and movie, but Peter Pan shit is my trash. Some retellings may not be as appealing as others, but I still want to read them because Peter fucking Pan. Everland fell into the category of retellings that I'm not super excited about (and honestly, I'm not a fan of that cover like at all), but I liked how it wasn't set in Neverland and how it had a sort of steampunk quality to it. Now, I can't really dislike a Peter Pan retelling. I just can't. But this is probably my least favorite.

My main problem with Everland is that it's not at the quality I like my books to be at. It's just not. It's not that it's too young; I like Middle Grade! But the writing wasn't my favorite, and it came off as kind of draftish to me. And don't even get me started on Hook's point of view. Once I realized what the writing style was--what level it would be--I got along with it and I liked Gwen's point of view. But Hook. It's like the stereotypical mean girl in a Lifetime movie who's trying too hard and is so over the top mean girl that you want to slap her. Hook's point of view was like that. It was not good, okay? Too sneery, too many exclamation points, too inconsistent in the characterization--just too much and not enough. It's like Hook told you everything instead of showing it to you. And Hook, honey? NO.

Aside from all that, Everland wasn't all that bad. Sure, it was a little obvious with some of the Peter Pan references, horrible things would happen and you wouldn't be emotionally invested enough in the story to be affected, a lot of things happened rather fast (I swear this all took place in like twenty-four hours and Gwen never slept for the entirety of the story), and I can't tell if this is a series and more is supposed to happen, and I'm not sure what the era is--or the world--but it's still a nice, fun, simple little story. It just wasn't my favorite.

The world of Everland is an...interesting one. London is no more, thanks to the Bloodred Queen of Germany (or something like that), the Horologia virus, and her soldiers the Marauders. London is in an apocalyptic state. The virus kills adults first, then females, then males are the last to get it. But one girl might be the cure and the only way to save everyone else. Hence where everyone's favorite characters come in. And despite the issues with this story, I did like Gwen and Peter, Gwen was the sister trying to save her siblings and just survive, and Peter's the boy who comes along and offers help right when it's needed. Some things were a little too fast--like, hello, stranger danger--and maybe their feelings for each other, much as I rooted for them, were awfully quick, they were likable. Although sometimes Peter's characterization seemed a bit off, and that kind of bothered me. Bella was a viable Tink, and I liked the different personalities and talents of the Lost Boys, though I would've liked to see more of where they were all holed up. And again, Hook--I'm just not even going to go there again.

Everland had the makings to be a really unique and cool take on the Peter Pan tale, with steampunk elements, an apocalyptic London, and no actual Neverland. But as someone who's kryptonite is Peter Pan retellings, it pains me to look at this novel and not feel much joy or positivity. This novel just isn't at the level I like to read, and it needed to spend more than a day telling what could've been a very neat story and really worked on fleshing everything out. It wasn't a bad novel, and I didn't dislike it--honestly, I'm stingy and too nice when it comes to that--but it's just not my cup of tea. And I will not, unfortunately, be flying off to Everland.

Did I like it? ...Yes.
Did I love it? Nope.
Would I reread it? No.
Would I purchase it? No.
Who would I recommend it to? Fans of Peter Pan retellings, steampunk, and novels that are more fun than serious.

I received a copy of this book in exchange for an honest review.

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