“Peter will say I’m a villain, that I wronged him, that I never was his friend. But I told you already, Peter lies.”
Oh what a dark delight this book was! I really love diving deep into the psyche of a villain and reading how they were made. But this book is so deliciously different.
The thing with a villain retelling is that you still know who the villain is. Or at least, who they will become. Lost Boy is a richly complex story where villains and heroes are much harder to discern.
In the stories, Peter Pan is always the hero. The cheerful young boy who refuses to grow up, and only wants to bring joy and happiness to children by bringing them to Neverland. Captain Hook we know as the pirate determined to destroy Peter Pan. But what if the story was a bit more complicated than that?
Jamie is a young boy, Peter’s right hand, his best friend. “I was the first and best and last and always.” He was the first boy chosen and will always be the one by Peter’s side. They have a friendship that outshines everything, because deep down Jamie knows he is special. That’s what he thinks, anyway.
Things with Peter aren’t always what they seem. First, Peter tries to hurt the littlest Lost Boy because he just isn’t any fun. Boys dying and getting hurt on the island has always been part of the deal. Peter only has time and patience for the games he plays. And Jamie has always accepted this. Because that’s the way it’s always been and that’s the way it will always be. Then Jamie begins to discover that Peter hasn’t been telling him everything. Peter keeps secrets. Peter lies.
Suddenly the magic of the Island takes on more sinister tones. With each lie discovered, each secret revealed, Jamie finds his unconditional love for Peter diminishing a little more. Questions Jamie had never bothered asking begin to surface in his mind. What happens when a boy who is kept forever young by magic begins to grow up?
I will admit to having a thing for the Dark Side. I tend to fall for the bad guy, and usually think that villains are victims of circumstance. Misunderstood. But that’s usually because we don’t see real villains very often.
Henry dives deep into the mind of a villain. She plays in the playground of actual evil. In Peter she has created a young, cheerful, psychopath. He is happy and delighted in whatever game he’s come up with. But only when things are going his way. When they don’t, he simply fixes the problem. Except, fixing a problem could mean killing a boy.
Peter doesn’t think what he’s doing is wrong. He doesn’t feel bad, or feel regret, or care about consequences. He has no morals. He lives only by the rules he has created in his head, and even those are flexible. Really, Peter cares only about having fun. He also really enjoys being the center of attention. Everyone else is simply along for his amusement. Everyone expect Jamie.
Anytime he is confronted with his actions, or his behavior, or even his attitude, he doesn’t see the problem, or even acknowledge the concern. For Peter, a dead boy is no never mind. As long as the games can go on. There is no reason to concern himself with one boy, when he can simply go to the Other Place and get a new one.
Peter does genuinely love Jamie. In the way that only a psychopath can. With utter devotion and obsession. It isn’t so much that the other boys aren’t of consequence, but that they take Jamie away from Peter. This is the one thing that drives Peter throughout the book. He only wants to be the focus of Jamie’s attention and affection. Every decision and action is made in this light.
We rarely get to see such a spot on depiction of a psychopath. Rarer still is to see this portrayal in such an accessible story. For all the darkness in this story, you are still lulled into believing you are reading a fairy tale. When the shock of violence hits you, and it is a shock, and it is grotesquely violent, the reality of the Island floods in. Reading is a constant ebb and flow of delight and horror, again and again and again.
The chilling part about Peter isn’t that he is cold, or calculating, although you could make an argument for either. It is more he isn’t. He really doesn’t have time to care. We are used to our villains being passionate, or vengeful. Full of anger and denial. Peter is just Peter. Concerned only with his fun, his games and himself.
And that’s what makes this book so, so good. Because we have a true villain in Peter. We have someone who is clearly wrong, and violent, and bad. But we also have the making of a different sort of villain. Jamie. Because Jamie does become Captain Hook, who is solely focused on revenge. He is full of anger and vengeance. He is passionate in his hatred for Peter. He is the definition of the villain we have come to know.
Peter wronged him. Peter lied to him. Peter made him. And yet, Jamie isn’t the villain. But, also, he is. “If I am a villain, it’s because Peter made me one, because Peter needs to be the shining sun that all the world turns around. Peter needed to be a hero, so somebody needed to be a villain.”
Henry has created a world full of magic, and somehow made it real. Because in life, villains aren’t all bad, and heroes aren’t all good. Sometimes good and evil is simply a matter of perspective. Life in the real world is much more complex, and things like villains and heroes are harder to discern.
I loved this book! Loved it! It is dark and twisty and full of things that make you gasp. It is full of treachery and violence. Sometimes villains are born. Sometimes villains are made. This book explores both of those ideas and creates a very dark adventure. If you also dabble in the Dark Side, and enjoy reading more complicated story, and aren’t afraid of things that go bump in the night, this book is definitely for you!
Lost Boy comes out July 4. Pre-Order link below:
Thank you to NetGalley and Berkley Publishing for approving me to read this ARC!