hannah's Reviews > Peter Pan in Scarlet

Peter Pan in Scarlet by Geraldine McCaughrean
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Nov 17, 07

bookshelves: middle-grade
Read in November, 2007

I love Peter Pan. Probably everyone who writes a review on this book prefaces it as such. But I'll not get too into how and why I like the JM Barrie novel, because that's not what this review should focus on. But it's also impossible not to do that too much, because unfortunately, almost all of this novel's quality is based on its relation to the one it tries to mimic and follow.

So Peter Pan in Scarlet takes place about twenty or thirty years after the original novel. Of course no one would ever accept new characters, so Wendy and the boys go back to Neverland and have another adventure. That's really all the plot I need to give away. The magic of Peter Pan and Neverland lie in JM Barrie's creation of a cocky, arrogant little boy who is nonetheless lovable and a land in which anything is possible because it's all pretend. And, let's not forget, the original story also shines because of its imaginative language.

Geraldine McCaughrean achieved some level of Barrie-ness in this book. There were some really great snippets of dreamlike language, like when she describes Wendy and her daughter dreaming, and their "dream eyes" meeting. But one extremely important aspect of the original play and novel were not carried on in Peter Pan in Scarlet, and that I had a big problem with.

Peter, in this novel, remembers the Darlings, when at the end of the original (can't remember if it's the play or the book) it describes how because he lives in a land where it's all play all the time, he really cannot remember the past or think of the future, he lives in the present. Barrie's narration at the end tells us Wendy has to remind him of his fights with Captain Hook, the Lost Boys, etc. So I had a problem with this Peter remembering too much, which is too bad, because he was almost as lovably cocky as in the original.

I thought the Maze of Witches was a cleverthing to bring into Neverland. There were some other new creations that I thought were, if not completely welcome, at least somewhat believable in the place that Barrie created. McCaughrean was also faithful to the complicated way of make believe becoming real that Barrie created for Peter and the Lost Boys. The opening of the book was also extremely well done, with its first line, its talk of adults and how they are different from children (so important for this story), and its use of "Mr." and "Mrs." with first names to bring a sort of childish, playing pretend quality to it. But the premise for the Darlings' going back to Neverland, with dreams leaking out, wasn't as tied up by the end as I expected it to be. It's like she lost track of it on the way.

However, assuming you are first a faithful and solid lover of Peter Pan the original, I would say you will still enjoy reading this sequel.
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