Wednesday, May 14, 2014

Book Review: Second Star by Alyssa B. Sheinmel

Pages: 248
Genre: YA Realistic Fiction
Pub. Date: May 13, 2014
Source: Publisher for review
My Rating: 3 out of 5 stars

Goodreads says, "A twisty story about love, loss, and lies, this contemporary oceanside adventure is tinged with a touch of dark magic as it follows seventeen-year-old Wendy Darling on a search for her missing surfer brothers. Wendy’s journey leads her to a mysterious hidden cove inhabited by a tribe of young renegade surfers, most of them runaways like her brothers. Wendy is instantly drawn to the cove’s charismatic leader, Pete, but her search also points her toward Pete's nemesis, the drug-dealing Jas. Enigmatic, dangerous, and handsome, Jas pulls Wendy in even as she's falling hard for Pete. A radical reinvention of a classic, Second Star is an irresistible summer romance about two young men who have yet to grow up--and the troubled beauty trapped between them."
Wendy Darling just graduated from high school and should be ecstatic, but the disappearance of her twin brothers, John and Michael, is obviously on the forefront of her mind.  They have been missing for awhile now and the police found their surfboards washed up by a dangerous surf spot. They have all come to the conclusion that John and Michael, her brothers, died in a tragic surfing accident; however, Wendy feels they are still out there and hasn't given up hope. She is determined to use her summer break as an opportunity to find them and she searches some new beaches to see what she can find.  Wendy comes across a new beach, Kensie, that seems like a beautiful place and she comes across Pete, a surf bum. Pete and his friends, including on-again-off-again girlfriend, Belle, live in an abandoned luxury home and spend all day surfing. No one has a source of income, except for Pete's neighbor and ex-friend, Jas, who is a drug dealer.  As Wendy hangs out more and more with Pete and his friends, she learns that perhaps they do know what happened to her brothers (even though they say they don't!) and all arrows point to Jas. Alyssa B. Sheinmel's Second Star, a Peter Pan retelling, has a lot of potential as a fantastic summertime. There's a beautiful location, hot guys, surfing, beach bums, and an unsettling mystery, but ultimately it fell flat for me.

Oh, Wendy. I wanted to like her in Second Star. In fact, I love her in the original Peter Pan, but in this novel, I sort of hated her. She made some stupid decisions and I know that she's dealing with grief and absent/moronic parents, but still. The decisions made were decisions that seemed really out of character.  In fact one of her colossal mistakes involves drugs, which I felt sent Second Star down a path that wasn't really one I wanted to go down. In fact, I couldn't even trust Wendy as a narrator, because she felt super unreliable to me.

On the other hand, I think Sheinmel did a fairly good job of bringing Pete into the modern world. He was a fun big kahuna/surfer type that I liked from the beginning. Also, Belle is jealous, beautiful, and surly…just how I would expect her to be. I liked their whole band of misfits and their beach bum lifestyle, although I didn't agree with stealing or breaking and entering no matter how they justified it. 

I felt that Sheinmel sort of followed the plot of Peter Pan until Jas entered the scene (cue a love triangle - bleh!) as well as the drug subplot. I know Sheinmel was trying to make the story modern, but the whole missing brothers/Jas, the drug dealer conundrum and the fact that Pete is a criminal in his own right, sort of casted a dark cloud over the novel. Unfortunately, that dark cloud was one which I couldn't rid myself of.

The setting and the scenes of surfing were my favorite part in Second Star. As you know, I am a big fan of the beach and surfing, so I thoroughly enjoyed Sheinmel's descriptions of California and the oceanside community.  I wanted to go to Kensie, Pete's hidden beach, and check out the waves.  

So, if you are looking for a retelling of Peter Pan that is one-hundred percent true to the story, look elsewhere. Yes, there was a fairly entertaining plot twist in Second Star, but it wasn't enough to get rid of the bad taste in my mouth left by Wendy's poor decisions and the dark cloud left by the "fairy dust."  In sum, if you are a fan of stories that involve surfing, but have a serious twist, I think Kirsty Eagar's Raw Blue does it well or even Jessi Kirby's Moonglass, which involves an oceanside community and deals with a few serious issues.


  1. I've seen some iffy reviews for this one, and though I have it on my shelf, I think I'm too nervous to give it a go. I love Peter Pan, and to see a bastardized version wouldn't work for me. I do, however, think Alyssa's a good writer, and I'm glad to see you found some high points in the novel!

    1. I thought the writing was decent and I did finish the book (which says something!) but I just couldn't get past some of the events in the books and the whole twist on Peter Pan…I was hoping it was going to be closer to the original tale. If you read it, be sure to let me know your thoughts. Thanks for visiting, Melissa!

  2. I finished this one last night and will be posting a review tomorrow. I agree, the book definitely fell flat for me. I was into it in the beginning and liked the retelling aspect but none of the characters were likable and what should have been a shocking twist just felt blah to me. The book just didn't hit me in the feels.
    Cassi @ My Thoughts Literally

    1. I will keep my eye out for your review! I am glad we agree that it fell flat. I had a hard time with the characters as well….ugh. I completely agree, Cassi, and thanks for visiting!

  3. I love Peter Pan so I'm a little unsure this book will be for me. I am intrigued though. Maybe I'll give it a shot this summer.

    1. If you can deal with a twist on Peter Pan and not a retelling, then check it out. If you do give it a shot, be sure to let me know your thoughts! Thanks for visiting, Christa!


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