Book Review: Peter Pan by J.M. Barrie

Peter Pan by J.M. Barrie
Rating: 5 out of 5 stars

Synopsis: Neverland is home to Peter Pan, a young boy who has never grown up. On one of his visits to London, Peter makes the acquaintance of young Wendy Darling, whom he invites to travel with him to Neverland and become the mother of his gang of Lost Boys. Flying through the night sky to Neverland, Wendy and her brothers John and Michael soon become caught up in marvelous adventures with the Indian Princess Tiger Lily, the loyal fairy Tinker Bell, and Peter's nemesis, the sinister hook-handed pirate known as Captain Hook. 

Yes, Peter Pan, is a novel. Many people are shocked to find the musical cartoon Peter Pan that Disney produced is based on a novel (though it was actually, originally, a play). Let me start my review by stating the following: if I had to go to a deserted island, with only one book to read and reread for the rest of time, it would be Peter Pan. No hesitations whatsoever. My heart is shadowed with sorrow for those who have not had the chance to revel in it's enchanting story. J.M. Barrie's writing is poetic, thrilling, and intensely captivating. He has woven a delicious tale for any age to delve into, overflowing with palpable magic, speckled with wisdom, and peppered with playful dialog. While it is a fairly short novel, J.M. Barrie brilliantly created multidimensional, charismatic, and fearsome characters. The ever charming, clever, and adventurous Peter Pan will mesmerize you from his amusing introduction to his slightly heartbreaking ending plea for us to never grow up. Revolving around Peter Pan, are Wendy, John, and Michael, the children who left their comfortable home in London to join Peter Pan on a thrilling adventure in Neverland. They inspire belief in magic and hope in possibilities. I also have a special place in my heart for Peter Pan's brave, enthusiastic, and humorous gang of Lost Boys, and for Tinker Bell, the loyal, emotional, and whimsical fairy. Let us not forget Pan's hook-handed nemesis: Captain Jas. Hook, the most daunting, youth-hating, and loathsome pirate in all the seas. This tale will leave you feeling homesick for the rapturous adventures in Neverland you may have once believed in.  

As previously mentioned, Peter Pan is a play-turned-novel-turned-movie. There have been multiple film versions of the tale of Peter Pan, and in case you were wondering, the book is better than all of them. First, there was the aforementioned musical cartoon version Disney released back in 1953. Disney did a fairly decent job at following the original story, and was able to capture the magical nature of the tale. Peter Pan, the live action version released in 2003, did an acceptable job following the story line, and I really enjoyed that P.J. Hogan (the director) was daring enough to include the darker aspects of the story, in addition to the innocent and joyful parts. Finding Neverland, released in 2004 starring Johnny Depp and Kate Winslet, was absolutely incredible. That movie had me in giggle fits, crying like a baby, and aching to share the love and magic of the story. Neverland, the mini-series released in 2011, did a phenomenal job with Peter Pan's pre-Neverland life, I would definitely recommend watching it if you enjoyed reading the Peter and the Starcatcher's books (review on that book to come shortly). Unfortunately, I entirely despised the 2015 movie, Pan, and would advise everyone not to ever watch it. Ever. As I don't want to get worked up, that is all I'll say about that particular disappointment. Think happy thoughts. Think happy thoughts

Speaking of Peter Pan, I (obviously) have to put a plug in for the show Once Upon a Time. Not that I need to state the obvious, but Hook is literally the best character on that show. Peter Pan unfortunately doesn't get too much screen time, but we love every second of what we get. While I thoroughly enjoy these OUAT characters, they do not actually follow the tale of the original characters. Though, admittedly, I prefer the looks of the smoldering OUAT Hook over the long, ringlet-haired original Hook. The redeeming factors with these OUAT versions, (other than their aesthetic appeal), is that OUAT does not ever try to keep the characters true to the originals, so it is not an unexpected disappointment.

The piece de resistance regarding Peter Pan film productions, though, is my favorite movie of all time: Hook, the 1991 film starring Dustin Hoffman (Captain Jas. Hook) and the late, most sincerely loved, Robin Williams (Peter Pan/Peter Banning). Words cannot express how much I love this movie. Hook follows the story of Peter Pan (now Peter Banning), who eventually chose to leave Neverland and grow up (yuck!). The infamous Captain Jas. Hook kidnaps Pan's/Banning's children, and Pan/Banning must return to Neverland, remember the spirit of Pan, and finish Captain Hook once and for all. Steven Spielberg did an unparalleled job in capturing the true spirit of Peter Pan and Neverland. I could honestly go on about this movie for hours, but I will, instead, just urge you to go watch and see for yourself. You will want to believe again.

Moral of the review: Peter Pan is one of the most magical tales ever told. Do not miss out on reading the book simply because you think you are "too old" or "don't believe" any more. It will awaken the child in you. "You know that place between sleep and awake, that place where you still remember dreaming? . . . That's where I'll be waiting" It's waiting for you, you just have to choose to believe.


*Synopsis provided by Goodreads.com

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