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Never Never

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James Hook is a child who only wants to grow up. When he meets Peter Pan, a boy who loves to pretend and is intent on never becoming a man, James decides he could try being a child - at least briefly. James joins Peter Pan on a holiday to Neverland, a place of adventure created by children's dreams, but Neverland is not for the faint of heart. Soon James finds himself longing for home, determined that he is destined to be a man. But Peter refuses to take him back, leaving James trapped in a world just beyond the one he loves. A world where children are to never grow up. But grow up he does. And thus begins the epic adventure of a Lost Boy and a Pirate. This story isn't about Peter Pan; it's about the boy whose life he stole. It's about a man in a world that hates men. It's about the feared Captain James Hook and his passionate quest to kill the Pan, an impossible feat in a magical land where everyone loves Peter Pan. Except one.

356 pages, Paperback

First published September 22, 2015

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Brianna R. Shrum

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Displaying 1 - 30 of 413 reviews
Profile Image for Wendy Darling.
1,543 reviews33.9k followers
August 3, 2016
I liked this for the most part, though I didn't quite love it. It starts off feeling very middle grade, and then has moments of upper YA-ness, which is a bit disconcerting.

Still, reimagining Peter as beast isn't hard (it's very popular to pick on him these days!), and obviously every "villain" is the hero of his own story. This is an interesting take on Hook for sure.

Wendy isn't in this book very much, but she comes across much better than she does in TIGER LILY. Points just for that, heh.

A bit more of a review soon.
Profile Image for Anne.
3,868 reviews69.2k followers
October 1, 2015
2.5 stars

Boy, this was just kinda bleak and depressing.
I don't know what I was expecting, but it certainly wasn't this. I guess I was hoping for something different? To be honest, Peter Pan & his Co. are nowhere near my favorite characters. Even as a child, I thought he was obnoxious and stupid, and the Disney movie just depressed me. What was wrong with those people? Why the Hell did Wendy act like such an adult? Why wouldn't her parents let her stay with her brothers in the nursery? God! Those people were cruel! No wonder she wandered off with that creepy Pan kid. And then, why didn't he come back and live with her family at the end of the story?


The whole thing was just f-ed up. To me, anyway.
Point is, I don't even like this story when it's not being retold in some horribly gloomy way from Hook's perspective. But if you are one of the millions of readers who adore anything Pan-related, you may have an entirely different experience than I did.
Unfortunately, there was nothing about this one that I enjoyed. Sorry.


Was Hook supposed to be a villain by the end? If so, I thought the author did a poor job convincing me that he had done anything wrong. And Pan? I wanted him dead. Tiger Lilly, too! Someone please run both those bitches through with a sword!


Wendy? Shove that obnoxious little twat overboard, please. And her idiot brothers. And while you're at it, the rest of those spineless Lost Boys, as well. All of 'em.
I wanna hear a big SPLASH!


Well, Anne, if a book can make you feel this angry, then the author did a good job, right?
Ok, maybe you have a point. If the author's point was to make me hate every single character in this story...job well done!
Thing is, I was also bored during this book. Like, reallyreallyreally bored. The writing wasn't bad, but the story just sort of drug on and on and on and on without anything exciting going down.
It was just one shitty thing after another happening to James Hook. And it felt like I was reading it in Real Time. Zzzzzzzzzzzzz.


Admittedly, I'm not a fan of stories that don't give a reader hope. I don't enjoy reading defeatist stuff, and I don't enjoy watching someone self-destruct. Particularly when there was nothing they could have done to change the outcome. And I especially don't enjoy reading about it when there's no action.
Hook and Pan fight. Hook could kill him...but because {insert inexplicable reason here} doesn't. Pan does something childishly evil. Wash, rinse, repeat.
And then it ends.


When I closed the book last night, I was ready to give this one star for wasting my time. But I honestly think the author is a good writer, so maybe it's just that it wasn't my cuppa.


Recommended for hardcore fans of this story only.

Also reviewed for:

I received a digital copy from NetGalley in exchange for a review.
Profile Image for Mogsy (MMOGC).
2,005 reviews2,597 followers
September 20, 2015
4 of 5 stars at The BiblioSanctum http://bibliosanctum.com/2015/09/20/y...

Never Never confirms what I’ve always suspected – that Peter Pan is a twisted and evil little psycho! Even as a little kid watching the Disney movie, I always felt something was off about him. Seriously, why does everyone love Peter Pan? He’s kind of a dick.

Actually, now that I think about it, it’s a wonder how I haven’t come across a book like this sooner. I’ve always had a penchant for interesting and imaginative retellings, and Peter Pan stories are my weakness. I can never resist them. There’s just something about the original tale which lends itself to so many interpretations, and the nature of Neverland as a boundary-free and adventurous place in the minds of children, never the same from one person to the next, strikes me as whimsical and yet a bit unnerving at the same time. I find that aspect very interesting, and as it happens, Never Never makes use of it to good effect.

So, clearly I didn’t need much more incentive to check out this book. But the main draw of it and what eventually sealed the deal for me was the fact this story isn’t really about Peter Pan. It’s about James Hook. Never Never presents an intriguing scenario. What if the relationship between Pan and Hook went back much further than we thought? What if Hook wasn’t from Neverland, but instead grew up in London where he was whisked away from Kensington Gardens like all of Peter’s other Lost Boys?

Unlike the others though, James actually wanted to grow up. As a boy, he thought going to Neverland with Peter Pan would be the greatest holiday adventure, but soon discovers that the place is not all it’s cracked up to be. Peter is an arrogant and heartless tyrant, keeping the Lost Boys under his thumb, never allowing anyone to leave, and even the island’s weather is subject to his whims. Worse, the little maniac’s favorite pastime is killing pirates, which doesn’t sit right with James at all. James has always had a soft spot for pirates; in his old life, being the captain of a pirate ship was one of his greatest dreams.

So, James grows up. In a world that hates grown-ups. He manages to escape Peter’s attempts to kill him, after it becomes clear that James is becoming a man. But even after all these years, James cannot forgive Peter’s lies, or the fact that he stole his life away from him, trapping him in Neverland forever. And so begins the eternal game of cat-and-mouse between Pan and Hook.

First of all, I like getting into the heads of villains. The problem is, these kinds of books are always a bit tricky to pull off. However, Brianna Shrum gives us plenty of good reasons for us to understand why Hook hates Pan, and to be honest, after reading this book I probably wouldn’t say no to a chance to strangle the fairy boy myself. The question is though, does Never Never make Captain James Hook a more sympathetic character?

My answer is: it’s complicated. To understand why, you also have to understand how James Hook is portrayed in this book. The character starts off as a twelve-year-old boy, bamboozled into following the older, cooler Peter Pan to Neverland where he is trapped and grows up to become a man. Physically, James ends up being about twenty-years-old or thereabouts. But mentally (at least to me) he stays twelve, still the little boy who misses his home and his parents, who dreams of becoming a pirate captain, and no matter how much he hates Peter Pan, he still has trouble imagining himself taking a life. The story is in essence a giant tug o’ war with itself, because James is constantly going back and forth in his mind, wanting badly to kill Peter but also not being able to bring himself to do the deed. He’s indecisive and unsure of himself, like a little boy. It’s what sets him apart from Peter, the one is entirely unprincipled and has no morals.

This also makes Never Never tough to categorize. It is a Young Adult novel and goes into some mature themes – coalition killing among the residents of Neverland, pirate debauchery, a hand getting cut off and fed to a crocodile, and so forth – but the tone of the writing feels younger, almost like middle-grade, owing to James’ perspective and the fact that, trapped in this place of dreams, his mind never really had the chance to catch up with his body. It’s a very interesting contrast to see some of these horrible things through the eyes of someone who is technically still a child, and interpret a lot of the other situations in this light. For instance, it struck me that a couple of the pirate characters, like Starkey and Smee, were effectively surrogate parents. They berate James and then tolerate his subsequent tantrums, while in truth, deep down the captain craves nothing more than the approval of his first mate and cook. So yeah, not gonna lie, sometimes sharing James Hook’s headspace can be frustrating as hell, but now and then it can also be quite fascinating.

Ultimately, it’s probably easiest to describe Never Never as a coming-of-age tale. This kind of style is not going to work for everyone, but if you’re a fan of Peter Pan retellings, it might be worth checking out for a different perspective. The book isn’t heavy on plot, placing more emphasis on the protagonist’s internal dialogue and growth – no pun intended. Admittedly, the writing and plotting could do with more polish, but it is nonetheless impressive when taking into account the fact we’re talking about a book from a small independent publishing house. Bottom line, this was an enjoyable story and I really liked how there’s a lot more going on beneath the surface than meets the eye, and it’s not just a tick-tock croc! I had a good time.
Profile Image for ❀Aimee❀ Just one more page....
443 reviews92 followers
October 3, 2015
What if you were a boy named James? What if you came upon Peter Pan in the magic of Kensington Gardens at night? What if Peter offered to take you somewhere amazing and promised that you could return whenever you wanted?
to Neverland

What if you got to Neverland and found it less than enchanting?
What if Peter was narcissistic,

get over here
and violent?

real fun

What if Peter never kept his promise to bring you home?
no one leaves
no escape

You know, I never did trust that creepy-ass kid.

James initially plays along to keep himself safe, but cannot stop that he is growing up. He knows he is never leaving, and that growing up is against Pan's rules.

Tiger Lily plays a larger role in this book...
Tiger Lily
tender hook

We see James slowly turns into Captain Hook through time and circumstance. He slowly becomes someone he doesn't recognize.
hook on ship
hook sharpening
i'm hook bitches

Many memorable parts of the story you remember will have a different flavor in this book.
tiger lily captive
ship fight
tied up

What will become of this Captain Hook in the end?


Thank you Netgalley and Spencer Hill Press for a free digital copy in exchange for an honest review.
Profile Image for Emily May.
1,946 reviews292k followers
September 2, 2015
2 1/2 stars. I didn't hate this, but with so many other retellings around these days, I wouldn't rush out to recommend it either. It simply doesn't stand out in a genre that is getting more and more overcrowded by the second.

Peter Pan has inspired some of my favorites from the retelling genre - Tiger Lily and The Child Thief - but this one left me feeling empty. I never connected with the characters. Never felt any depth was given as to why Hook really wants to grow up (more so than every other child) and Peter doesn't.

The stories from Barrie can be manipulated slightly to be beautiful, haunting and scary. There is something so sad about growing up and changing, about people becoming someone different - someone you never wanted them to be. Alternatively, it is a frightening concept. A strange young boy creeping into children's rooms in the dead of night. This book captured none of those things. It barely scrapes the surface of its potential.

I also didn't like that some parts read like a middle grade novel. Occasionally, MG novels work for me, but I mostly find them lacking in depth.
Profile Image for The Candid Cover (Olivia & Lori).
1,161 reviews1,300 followers
March 10, 2021
Full Review on The Candid Cover

Looking for the ultimate pirate book this season? Never Never is an action-packed prequel to the classic tale, Peter Pan. This unique adventure story includes a fast-paced plot, a beautiful setting, and a likeable side character.

Never Never is an intriguing novel that feels like a prequel of sorts to the classic story of Peter Pan. The book begins with Captain Hook as a child and follows him as he grows up. There is so much action and many epic battles between Pan and Hook that keep the reader frantically flipping pages to find out what will happen next. One interesting aspect to Never Never is that Captain Hook gets to share his side of the story. His opinions on Peter Pan really makes readers replay the original story in their mind.This book is so original and offers an interesting explanation as to why Captain Hook hates Peter Pan.

The setting in Never Never is described so vividly. Yes, Neverland already exists, but Brianna Shrum describes every part of the world, even the Never Wastes, in a way that is so fantastic. The reader will also be able to visualize James Hook in this mysterious world with ease. It is hard to imagine that one can improve upon a setting that has been etched into readers minds forever, but somehow Shrum has pulled it off beautifully!

One of my favourite characters in Never Never is Tiger Lily. She is well-developped and totally puts Captain Hook in his place. She is independent and actually quite feisty. By the end of the book, I felt as though I knew every detail about Tiger Lily, even though she isn’t the main character. This is a testament to the incredible detail within this story.

Never Never has an intriguing plot, a gorgeous setting and a well-developed side character. I recommend this book to fans of Tiger Lily by Jodi Lynn Anderson because it is also a Peter Pan retelling. This book will definitely fulfill anyone’s needs for fantasy and high adventure!
Profile Image for Lea (drumsofautumn).
618 reviews623 followers
August 5, 2018
Full video review

Never Never is a prequel/retelling of Peter Pan from Hook's point of view. It shows us the story of how Hook came to Neverland and became Peter Pan's greatest villain.
I love Pirates and I have always been a big fan of Hook especially, so I was very excited to pick this book up. And it delivered!
The book goes through various states of Hook's life and starts of middle-gradeish but in the course of the novel almost crosses the line to New Adult. So I'd definitely recommend this to an older YA audience.
I thought the back story of Hook was very interesting and in my personal opinion also very plausible. I thought the story fit well into the original but made it even more exciting. I don't think I will ever watch or read another Peter Pan adaptation now without having Hook's backstory from this book in mind. I also really liked the way the other characters were portrayed. This book shows us a different view of Peter Pan that I enjoyed a lot. The book has a lot of romance in it, which I did not expect but loved a lot. I do think you should be prepared for that when you go into the novel, especially if you're not as much of a romance lover as I am. But I thought the romance in this book was incredibly well done and the chemistry radiated out of the book.
It was just a beautiful, heart-breaking and emotional story. I absolutely recommend it if you love Hook and don't think a romance in his life is a weird thing. Read this book and make your life better!

Initial reaction after finishing:
I finished this 10 minutes ago and right now I am just in awe. I loved this book SO MUCH. It's been a while since I felt this strongly about a book.. and a character, I guess. I had super high expectations going into this, it was my most anticipated release of this year. And it exceeded my expectations by a lot. This book contained everything I had wished for and more. I really don't know what else to say. I don't think I can think clearly right now.
A full (and proper) review will be up on my YouTube channel closer to the release.

GOD! Netgalley made me one of the happiest people on earth <3

Booktube ChannelTwitter
Profile Image for Lexi.
454 reviews173 followers
August 10, 2020
I struggle with Peter Pan adaptations. Half of them sacrifice originality to line up too much with the original text. The other half seem to be Hook or Peter Pan falling in love with self insert characters. Peter Pan is one of my favorite "fairy tales" and Hook has been one of my favorite characters since i was a kid- so any story that gives him the spotlight, I am all for.

Yes, this is a "Peter Pan is evil" book. It's also the best of both worlds. Written as a "life story", Never Never eventually bleeds up to the book/play when John, Michael, and Wendy come to Neverland. James Hook is a young boy with a strong imagination- dreaming nightly that he is the captain of a pirate ship while missing his father while he is at sea.

He meets Peter and follows him to Neverland, but quickly learns he lacks the sensibilities of the other children, who are for one reason for another, "lost".

The characterization of Pan as a jolly jailer is expertly done. He's not written as crushingly evil, but is portrayed much like the original text. He is uncompromising and has a tempter and joyfully believes everyone around him just loves him. He is slow to remember slights/confrontation, but absolutely ruthless and treats killing like a game he is allowed to play. He isn't wholly evil- think Sid from Toy Story, only the lost boys are his toys.

James starts to grow up, and the bulk of the story is about how he becomes the pirate we know from Peter Pan. While Never Never gives him a TON of depth, it does not at all betray or abandon the character that is eventually Peter's villain. Hook, in my opinion, is written beautifully. He's a morally grey anti hero carrying a lot of legitimate hurt and pain, and in so many other ways, really does become the monster Peter Pan made him.

If you want a good, true to form Peter Pan retelling, this one could be my favorite so far. It's ast paced and brutal. It's got action, romance, drama- all the good stuff. It poses some interesting questions about identity and agency. 5/5.
Profile Image for Rachel Patrick.
295 reviews207 followers
September 21, 2015
I think you're going to want to read this.

Review to come. First, let me simmer in my book hangover and lack of sleep.


This review (and others) can be seen in all its properly formatted glory on my blog Beauty and the Bookshelf.

First and foremost, a very big thank you to the super nice Andi at Andi's ABCs for letting me borrow her ARC of Never Never!

Peter Pan retellings, at least the ones I've read, tend to be twisty little creatures. I still haven't read the original tale (for shame), but I've seen some movies and read some books, and I've noticed a few things. Every Peter Pan retelling has its own little twist on the tale but still keeps to the original beloved story while creating something that's wholly its own. Tiger Lily introduced us to the girl with the feather in her hair we knew nothing about, but who was in love with the boy with the feather in his cap, and who made us--or me, at least--hate Wendy Darling's guts. And Hook's Revenge repainted the lush setting of the ultimate-destination Neverland while creating a brand new character who fit perfectly into the island's story. Another thing these stories do is constantly sway what you think about every character in Peter Pan's imaginative world. In Never Never, Brianna R. Shrum tells the tale of Neverland's most infamous character (well, depending on how you feel about crocodiles): Captain Hook. I was telling my mom a little bit about Never Never, and she said, "But Captain Hook's bad." I thought so too. But then I read this book. So I told-slash-whined to her: "You just don't understand him."

Have you ever wondered why Hook was so hellbent on killing Peter Pan, why a man so desperately wanted to murder a boy? Shrum attempts to answer--or show--that question in Never Never. Prepare to sympathize with the villain--but is Hook the villain? Here's the story of James Hook, a boy who, unlike another boy we know, actually wants to grow up. But then he meets Peter Pan--a boy who can fly--who offers to take James to Neverland for a little vacation, and also promises to bring him home. Except Peter Pan decides to make James one of his Lost Boys, and the boy who wanted to grow up is forced to stay in a place where boys don't grow up. But James Hook does grow up. (As well all know.) And he breaks one of Peter Pan's cardinal rules by doing so. So he heads off to the Spanish Main, a pirate ship he dreamed about back in London, but that's real in Neverland. And the war begins.

The above is literally nothing. I mean, obviously I can't tell you what happens in Never Never, because then I'd be walking the plank for spoiling things. But this book is kind of genius. I mean, there are so many things that are so similar to the Peter Pan tale I know (I'm using the Disney animated film as my main reference point, but I do see similarities to other versions), but we see them from a completely different angle and it paints the story a completely different way. I'll tell you what: Peter Pan is a little shit. But that's how he is. The world in Never Never exists however Peter wants it, because he created it. Hook gets mad because everything on the damn island is created to love Peter, and there's a question raised--if Peter Pan died, what would happen to Neverland and its inhabitants? The idea may seem complicated, but it never read like that, and really, it was interesting: this entire dreamland is controlled by a crowing boy's imaginary puppeteer strings. In most Peter Pan reimaginings, I'm all for Peter. I want him to win. And we all do, don't we? He's Peter Pan, the boy who never grows up. We want him to defeat that old codfish. But in Never Never? You're rooting for the codfish.

Going into Never Never, I thought it might be a Middle Grade novel, and I wasn't sure what to expect, but it most certainly is not Middle Grade (for a number of reasons). And as for what I expected...gosh, I don't even know. I didn't expect to be so invested in what would happen to one of the world's most infamous pirates and villains. And the writing--it felt like storytelling, and like I could hear a narrator in my head. It would make an excellent audiobook. (I can hear it in my head with a British narrator and yesss.) I don't think I expected to do much more than like this book, but I did--I really, really liked it. Just thinking about Never Never makes me teary, so actually, I loved it. We see Hook as he grows up and transforms from boy to man, and while there are some abrupt jumps in time, it didn't feel jarring. Shrum's writing kept the transitions smooth, and going from young James Hook to Captain Hook was almost unnoticeable, because the subtle change in voice was transitioned so well. The writing really helped to make this story and bring it to life. I'm definitely a fan.

There's another aspect of this book I didn't really expect, and that's the romance. It kind of broke me. Spoiler alert, but if you've read or seen anything to do with Peter Pan, you know that any romance with Captain Hook is bound to be doomed (especially because he's the bad guy, and bad guys don't usually get happy endings). But maybe it won't be; maybe the bad guy will get a little something good out of this life. So you can't help but ship the absolute hell out of Hook and Tiger Lily, and you prepare yourself to go down with that ship if you must. It was just so--wait! I CAN SHOW YOU:


In other words, there are more than just pirate ships in this book, and you feel passionate about them. But let's talk about Captain James Hook. I've really only seen glimpses of Captain Hook in Hook's Revenge and Second Star, but never like this. A la Maleficent, Never Never shows us what's really underneath that bravado and hook. Captain Hook was raised with manners, and he speaks with eloquence, and he tries to deal with being stuck in Neverland....but everything always goes back to that blasted pirate-murdering, weather-controlling Pan. Whether he likes it or not, Hook's entire, well, everything pivots around the point that is Peter Pan. Peter brought him there, and he's the only one who can bring him back. He controls Neverland, and therefore, he basically controls Hook. How can Hook best the boy who has the strength of an entire land? Especially a boy who wants him dead? For Hook, there's only one thing he can do to the person who took him away from his life and ruined everything: Kill him. If' it's the last thing he does.

Never Never is unique in the way that it sticks so well to the Peter Pan tale we all know so well, but shows it through an angle that creates a whole new swashbuckling tale. If I had to give one bit of critique for this book, is that it felt...long? I mean, reading it was mostly fine, but it felt like it took forever to get anywhere near page 200. I found it hard, until a certain point, to read more than a few chapters at at time, even though I was definitely liking it. I think this is a book that's not meant to be devoured in a day--it's one to be taken in slowly so you can better savor it and really grasp Hook's story.

I heart this book. I want to snuggle it and hold it close to me and just tell it how precious it is, and maybe pet it, too. You won't have asked for a boatload of feels, but in Never Never, you're getting them anyway. Everything is a slowburn. All the emotions build up like a wave with Hook's character development, reaching for the climax. When it comes to Neverland, James Hook is always the exception. Prepare to root for the villain (or who seems to be the villain, perhaps), ship a romance SO HARD, and possibly cry. Pirates do, after all, have feelings. And they're not all bad. You just have to get to know them first, for you can't judge a person by their hook.
Profile Image for Jen ♥Star-Crossed Book Blog♥.
505 reviews306 followers
January 14, 2016
***2.5/5 Stars***
Never Never was an imaginative take on how Captain Hook came to be.  But before starting, know that this definitely isn't the story that we all grew up knowing.  While there are some similarities, the differences are stark and bold!  Shockingly, I came to loathe Peter Pan and to understand Captains Hook's need for revenge.  I desperately wanted him to fulfill that need for revenge!  But as the story unfolded, there were parts that I struggled wrapping my head around.  Parts where I slowly felt myself pulling away from Captain Hook and this made me sad because I was so ecstatic to read Never Never!
The darkness curled around him like a blanket, willing him to stay a while, whispering things to him that were at once comforting and terrible. When he could stand no longer, he covered his face with his hands. Then, he dropped to his knees in the dirt and wept.

Within the first few pages, I was fascinated by the world that had been created. Captain Hook, aka James Hook, was just a child who looked forward to growing up and becoming a man.  His parents are loving yet stern, and he has a sibling that is on the way.  I’ll admit, I never once thought of who Captain Hook was as a child.  But I’m so glad we got to see that side of him, because I loved that strong yet needy child.  He was imaginative yet knew what he wanted in life.  After spending time around Peter Pan, he agreed to go away to Neverland.  Temporarily.  Or so he thought.  But once in Neverland, he realized that he would never be going back home.  And Hook grew up while Peter Pan and The Lost Boys didn't.  That changed him.  It created a savage hatred towards Peter Pan and I rallied right behind that hatred!
He readied himself, as he always did when he expected a battle with Peter, and stood on the eerily quiet hull of the Spanish Main . Another crow, haunting and soft, and James steeled his nerves, preparing his mind to murder a child.

Oh, did I loath Peter Pan.  He was such an unlikeable character.  He was dark, sadistic, and a heartless killer.  But at times, his emotions felt contradictory to me.  One moment he would be happily laughing while acting like a child and in the next he would turn into this evil being that would slit the throat of a pirate who was sleeping.  But make no mistake, I wasn’t upset about the fact that I detested Peter Pan.  He was a far cry from the happy boy from the original story.  So it was fun seeing him in a different light.  But as the book trudged on, I started to get frustrated.  His forgetfulness, his cruelty and his cold-heartedness was so intense and so shocking that I started questioning why he was that way and why he had so many followers.  It felt as though I was missing some pieces of the puzzle.  And eventually I tired of Peter Pan’s antics and looked forward to the scenes were he wasn’t present.

So of course I rooted for Captain Hook to kill Peter Pan.  Who wouldn’t want to kill him?!  But each time he got close, I felt let down.  I understood Captain Hook’s weariness about killing a child, but he would set out to do just that, and then his plans would almost purposely fizzle.  And this is how the majority of the book seemed to proceed and I struggled with that.
He caught her hand as she washed the blood away from his throat, and she looked up at him.
“Never apologize to me ,” he said, voice gravelly and tired. Older. “Thank you for your kindness. Now and years ago.”

One thing I did love in this book, well for a short while, was the relationship between Captain Hook and Tiger Lily.  It was sweet, innocent and at times touching. I got excited that Captain Hook finally had a shot at peace and happiness.  But sadly, I struggled with the direction they were taken.  Tiger Lily’s decisions would leave me scratching my head and  I don’t want to give away anything, but just know that I didn’t agree with a few “rationalizations” and those scenes left me feeling icky, mad and utterly sad.

So again, I found myself closing a book feeling conflicted and confused.  Because on one hand, Never Never was extremely imaginative and was such a fun take on the original story that we all know.  I enjoyed hearing Captain Hook's side and rooting for him!  But for me, Peter Pan was too dark, too evil and I could never find the why behind it all.  And Tiger Lily’s relationship with Captain Hook left me in shambles at times.  Oh, but the hardest part for me was the ending.  After that last page I tried to click for more.  I  desperately wanted and needed an epilogue, yet there was none there.  I would have preferred to know a little bit more about what happened to a few of the characters because I felt as though so much was left up in the air.  But hopefully you'll have better luck than me by being able to enjoy this story more fully than I was!

***ARC was kindly provided by Spencer Hill Press, via Netgalley, in exchange for an honest review***

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Profile Image for Olivia-Savannah .
690 reviews461 followers
September 6, 2015
I had been anticipating this read like crazy ever since I had first heard about it. I have been on a retelling high for a long time now, and I honestly cannot see myself coming down from it. As well as that, one of my older sisters loves the story of Peter Pan a lot which perked up my interest of it as well.

What I loved about this book so much was how we were able to see the complete journey of Hook. The book starts in his childhood when he is living at home (and at this point I feared it would be more of a middle grade feel than a young adult one). But as you keep reading we see James turn into a teenager, and then an adult and everything that happens in between to shape who he is. I could really connect with his character, even if I had never been lost from home, or became a pirate, or had anyone I hated so much as he hated Pan. Yet, I could still relate to him and I would narrow that down to the wonders of Shrum’s writing.

One of the best things about this novel is that it isn’t about turning characters into something completely different from who they are. Hook is still the villain. Peter Pan is still the childish, flying boy. But what this book does do is show us why Hook hates Pan so much. And why Pan being a child forever is not the best thing for him. We do get to see a very sinister side to Pan and it was quite surprising to see how easy it was to turn this originally light hearted story into a much darker one. It made me wonder if Pan was just as much a villain as Hook. And it definitely leaves it up to the reader to decide how evil or good Hook is.

I loved Hook’s character. He was a character that had a lot more anger than me, but I loved his idea of ‘good and bad form’. Even if he was a pirate he was someone with a certain elegance to him, someone who had his own morals and own ideals of what was right and wrong. He did feel guilt for some of the things he did, and he wasn’t unbreakable. I liked how he was so human, even if being a pirate is usually what people believe to be a terrible thing.

Everything about him is really explained. We get small details about why he wears the costume he does the way he does, why he never sails out of Neverland and about his crew as well. I liked that it was also so accurate to the original story. I did have to do a bit of research for that because my memory is shaky in places of Peter Pan’s story, but everything was very in sync with it, while being a unique story to itself.

We really did get to see a lot of Neverland as a place and why it works that way. There was the perfect amount of world building and I think Shrum did pretty well there. I would have liked to see a bit more though, especially of the Neverwastes, which was a place always mentioned but never seen or visited.

I LOVED the romance so much! It was a lot more heated than I expected it would be at first (especially since the story starts with kids!) but I suppose Hook matures, and well, romance is in order. I don’t know if it was Hook’s inner conflict or just how much he loved the love interest, but it definitely made for a bittersweet and a hot romance.

Disregarding all the words I said above, please read this book now! If you love a good retelling like me, or just a very interest novel then you will enjoy this one.

This review and others can be found on Olivia's Catastrophe: http://olivia-savannah.blogspot.nl/20...
Profile Image for Erin Dunn.
Author 2 books88 followers
September 5, 2015

Thank you to NetGalley and Spencer Hill Press for allowing me to read and review an ebook copy of Never Never by Brianna Shrum.

Never Never is a retelling of Peter Pan, except it's not really about Peter. It's about James Hook when he is a child and he WANTS to grow up. When he meets Peter Pan he agrees to go on holiday to Neverland with him. Peter promises him that he will take him back to London. However, once Hook is ready to go home, Peter refuses to take him back. Thus begins the tale of a pirate captain versus the boy who refused to grow up.

Never Never started off very strongly for me. I have only seen the Peter Pan Disney movie (and some Once Upon a Time episodes with Peter in it) and other than that I have no experience with anything else related to Peter Pan. I've never read the original story, I've never watched the movie Hook, or anything else. So I was extremely excited to see Captain Hook's side of things. The first quarter of the book had me hooked (get it hooked? lol) right away. Hook as a child meeting Peter, how he got to Neverland, and his experiences while first in Neverland was so darn GOOD. I LOVED seeing how Peter essentially stole away Hook's life and why Hook came to despise Peter so much.

After that is where the book dropped off a bit for me. The last three quarters of the book my interest just tapered off the longer the book went on. Somewhere along the way Never Never just lost the connection to the reader. I started to feel really distanced from the characters and what was going on in the book. Honestly, it just got pretty dull and flat. Also, I think there is a few small things in the book that I would have liked to have been explored more and they just weren't.

Overall Never Never is alright. I think it is more of a middle grade novel than YA, which is okay, but not what I was expecting. I probably should have DNF'd Never Never, but I kept hoping it would get back to being as good as the beginning of the novel was. It had such promise!

I would recommend Never Never for die hard Peter Pan retelling fans, people who realize that Peter Pan is a jerk and would enjoy seeing him portrayed a bit darker, and for middle grade children who like pirates.

Profile Image for Hannah ◇ReaderintheRough◇.
198 reviews71 followers
January 1, 2016
“The deepest circle of Hell is kept for Brutus, Judas, and Peter Pan.”

3 stars. This is going to be a strange, nonsensical review...

1st 30% was not so good. It was boring and very middle grade and not what I was expecting from the summary.

30-75% was insanely good. I loved James and Tiger Lily's chemistry.

She grinned. “I suppose I shall have to sneak aboard your ship in the night and kill you. There’s no other way.” James stared at her. “Well, then, I shall be waiting for you.”

Beautiful writing, doomed romance, electrifying sexual tension. It was a startling transition from the first 30% but I LOVED IT.

It was a dark waltz, made of haunting voices and forbidden touches and hidden desire. Hook pressed his fingers into her back and led her in the dance. Then, he brought his face against her cheek, intoxicated by her nearness, relishing the sweet scent of her. His long hair fell into hers, and they tangled together.

Last 25% was I DON'T KNOW WHAT. Things took another sudden turn.

...this book was very disjointed. I'm not recommending it, but I'm not going to tell people not to read it. It felt like three different tellings. It was awkward to go from a boy's mind to a dark romance.

I just don't know.
Profile Image for Stacie (Shy Book Nerd).
389 reviews87 followers
September 27, 2015
Actual rating: 3.5 out of 5

Never Never is a Peter Pan retelling, and like all retellings I have to read them! Whether they're good, bad, or not even remotely close to the original story I have to see how a certain story is played out. This retelling is told from the perspective of Captain James Hook, from the age of 12 to adulthood. Is he really the bad guy, or is Peter Pan the more evil of the two?

Well, it turns out I have a love/hate relationship with this book. In this retelling Peter Pan is made out to be the bad guy of the story. Peter is sinister, cruel, and is no way innocent. I really HATE him in this book. He practically kidnapped James when he was still a child, and showed no mercy to him when he wanted to go home. From the start, Peter was cruel to James. James never wanted to stay a child. He always wanted to grow up. Peter tried making him a Lost Boy so that he could stay a child, but James grew up despite Peter's warning.

I liked that the author gave James a conscience. Where as Peter was merciless and killed for pleasure, James was every bit the remorseful person. Even when he had to kill other pirates he hated that he had to. It made me love and care for the captain all the more.

I love the way the author told the story. She captivated me from the start and made me root for someone who is supposed to be horribly bad. I wasn't sure how I would feel since it started James off as a child, but the transitioning of the story flowed well. I could picture parts of the story from the Disney movie. Those parts really made me think how James felt from his point of view.

My absolute favorite part of the book was the SHIP. By ship I mean the romance between James Hook and Tiger Lily. Oh man, I loved them together and I did not want their romance to stop. Tiger Lily is the only person Hook cared about. She understood him like no else could. They had their moments of disagreements, but they some how found their way back in each other's arms. It was a slow burn romance, but when they finally kiss, boy are there some steamy moments. At one point I had to fan myself.

The one part, and my least favorite part of the book had to be the ending. I was rooting for Hook completely and I felt like the ending was left a little underwhelming for me. As I said before, the latter part of the book follows the movie. And well, most of you know what happens at the end. I was not happy with this ending at all. I felt like it was rushed and left a little open ended. I was just hoping for more. I felt like I was crushed, or more like thrown off the plank of a ship with nothing to grasp on to.

Overall, I really enjoyed the book. Despite the ending and some slow moments, I thought this was a really fun retelling. There's many fight scenes with not only the Lost Boys, but many pirates too. There's even a small mention of Blackbeard. I rooted for Hook from start to finish, and I'll always have a soft spot for him now. He became bad for reasons that are justified. I really recommend this to anyone who loves retellings. Who knows? Maybe you will become a pirate lover too!

**Thank you to the publisher for providing an arc in exchange for an honest review. This in no way affects my view of the book.**

Profile Image for ♠ TABI⁷ ♠.
Author 15 books478 followers
March 5, 2017
This is the story of Peter Pan through the eyes of its most famous villain - Captain Hook. As a kid when reading Barrie's classic for the first few times, I didn't question things. I took them as they were, pure and literal . . . just like a child. But then, as time passed and I grew older, questions arose about Neverland, the motives and back stories. Sure, it's not meant to be picked apart but to be enjoyed as a very fantastical story.

But I like answers. And this story sets out and answers one of the biggest questions: Why does Hook hate Peter so much?

For the first bit of the book, I felt cheated. It was flat, dull, and Peter's character frustrated me to no end . . . while at the same time, made perfect sense as well. Neverland is ruled by the tyrannical whim of a child with magic to back his random decisions. He is utterly selfish, but of course quite unaware of this fact.

No one likes a bratty kid, much less one with lots of power to leave others in true fear of his tantrums.

Once Hook left the Lost Boys, things got much more interesting, but there is no real solidity to the plot, much like the original story from Barrie. It is a series of events leading to the finale with Hook's death.

I did end up liking this book much more than I thought I would. The writing is clear and simple, yet lovely with its simplicity. Neverland is brought to life in brief yet powerful descriptions, which I absolutely loved. Give me more mermaids, Indians, and fairies. I am a complete sucker for anything Neverland, which is why I keep giving in to the appeal of any retelling.

This is, admittedly, one of the better re-imaginings of Peter Pan . . . even though it does put my favorite narcissistic, arrogant boy in quite a nasty light. A believable light all the same, but still. Of course, the best retelling award is still held by Tiger Lily, but this comes pretty darn close. A bit oddly sexual in some parts, but that was nicely tempered by the writing, and the fact that Tiger Lily and Hook made sense.

Anyways, if you are as avid a Peter Pan/Neverland aficianado as I am, you won't be greatly disappointed by this book. If anything, read it for the Neverland descriptions only.
Profile Image for Pili.
1,162 reviews216 followers
November 18, 2015
I knew it... I knew the ending would destroy me. Brianna did a wonderful job of giving a new life to both Peter Pan and James Hook and gave a villain a story worth of being his own hero. *goes to stuff herself silly with cookies now*

This book had been in my wish list as one of the debuts to keep in mind, and after my very talented friend Sarah made her book trailer SEE HERE and then I got super excited and requested it from NG as soon as I saw it there! Thank you so much to Spencer Hill Press for approving me!

Never Never is a fascinating story with a voice that change and progresses as the story does and grows as James does. The writing is very visual and it wraps you into the story with ease. Sometimes I was a bit confused because it seemed we switched from first person to third person for small periods of time and that was a bit disconcerting, but served also as a way to enhance the storytelling quality of the story.

Retellings aren't exactly my favourite thing to read, but when they are done from a different POV and even more if the POV is from the villain of the story... I'm all in! And Never Never succeeded in giving us a new perspective on not just James Hook but the entire Neverland story and of course, Peter Pan!

I've never read the original story (I know, I know...) so my only Peter Pan knowledge comes from two movies: the Disney version and Hook with a grown up Peter. Now reading Never Never made me think of how we sometimes lighten up tales that were darker in origin and I wonder if the original story also had this darker undertones.

Peter is an intriguing character, a forever child, one that has not grown to learn compassion or empathy and that is selfish and egotistical and doesn't see further that his own wants and needs. Even with a certain selective memory to forget what he doesn't like and no remorse for his choices. I feel like he is a mix of the worse qualities from a toddler and teenager mixed together!

We meet James Hook as a child and one that doesn't want to remain a child but wants to grow up, so him going to Neverland seemed like a bit of a doomed choice, one destined for unhappiness. He is fascinated by Peter Pan but he is never a Lost Boy, so he finds himself growing apart from Peter & the boy and growing up into a pirate, with an unhappy heart full of resentment.

He's not exactly the hero nor the villain of his own story, not really. He hates Peter Pan and not without reason, but he finds himself in a position with very limited choices and he doesn't always make the best ones either. He's such a nuanced character, full of hate, love, longing and remorse.

Tiger Lily is a much more present character that I ever saw in the movies and so glad of it, because she's a very strong female character that also has to make some really hard choices. Some that would even touch on the clash between destiny, purpose and free will.

The ending of the book can't be considered a surprise, given how it follows the original story, but after everything that we went through in the book it does pack quite the emotional punch!

A very much deserving 4 stars for this stunning debut! Looking forward to reading more from Brianna Shrum for sure!
Profile Image for Tika .
149 reviews119 followers
September 13, 2015
I was looking forward to this book, because come on, that synopsis is intriguing as hell. However, I didn't enjoy it as much as I thought I would. I couldn't connect with the characters, and while I liked some the scenes, (mainly those in which James and Peter were fighting), the writing was just too . . . MEH for me. The story dragged in many places, and from the jump I found it hard to actually care about what was going on. * sigh *. This obviously wasn't the story for me. Curse you Captain Hook * shakes fist *
Profile Image for Crysta DenOuden.
59 reviews
Want to read
October 9, 2015
Finally... Finally a book that's going to tell us about Hook... And not the Once Upon a Time version.... I swear to God if this is just a worded version of Hook's story from OUAT I'm going to kill someone..
Profile Image for Kit (Metaphors and Moonlight).
876 reviews120 followers
April 8, 2020
3.5 Stars

I have mixed feelings about this book. On the one hand, this was the second Peter Pan retelling I've read that focuses on Captain Hook, and it was exactly the kind I've always wanted, one that is based on the book rather than the Disney movie and that doesn't ignore the dark, terrifying aspects of Peter. On the other hand, I just wasn't able to feel invested in this story. It never, well, hooked me. (Pun absolutely intended.)

I liked all the nods to Peter's darkness from the original (murder, starving his boys, not understanding the difference between real and make-believe, etc.), the idea of the pirates being there because they were James's childhood dreams, and the explanations for things (how James got there, why he hated Peter).

I also liked that the author showed us not just the origin/backstory of how James/Hook came to be a pirate in Neverland, but also what his life was like after he joined the pirate crew. That was where the story had some overlap with the original novel, and seeing the author's take on those events, seeing James's side of things, was cool.

I felt awful for James and how all he really wanted the whole time was to go home. There's a part where he meets another captain that I wasn't expecting, and it was very touching and bittersweet. So the author did make his character one I empathized with and did manage to infuse some emotion into the story.

But, as I said, I never really got into it, and I'm not entirely sure why. I don't know if it was my mood, the audio narration, the slow pace, or just the story itself that was the problem. I didn't dislike it, but I kinda just wanted to be finished with it.

I also didn't like the audio narration by Simon Vance. The narration itself was ok, but he has this particular kind of voice I don't like, and I didn't feel his voices for James and Tiger Lily suited them. This is obviously a very subjective thing though.

There's also a relationship between James and Tiger Lily in this book, but that's neither a like nor dislike. I don't think I felt much about it either way.

Overall, this was a good Captain Hook retelling, one that creates an interesting backstory for him and follows the original story pretty closely, with a few differences. I somewhat enjoyed it, but it just didn't leave a big impression on me.

Recommended For:
Anyone who likes slow-paced stories and Peter Pan retellings that focus on Captain Hook and that stay fairly true to the original book.

Original Review @ Metaphors and Moonlight
Profile Image for Nemo (The ☾Moonlight☾ Library).
616 reviews301 followers
September 21, 2015
This review was originally posted on The Moonlight Library
I received this book for free from Netgalley in exchange for an honest review. This does not affect my opinion of the book or the content of my review.


A prequel and retelling of JM Barrie’s classic children’s novel Peter Pan and Wendy from the primary antagonist’s point of view, Never Never follows Hook as he is taken from London by a marvelous, clever, flying part-fairy ageless boy and shows in detail how James turned from being a proud young boy who couldn’t wait to grow up to Peter Pan’s greatest enemy, the infamous Captain James Hook.

Because this was not a middle grade novel, it dedicated a lot more time and effort into the subtleties of worldbuilding. My favourite part was when Pan was in the world, the air tasted like vanilla – a scent Hook quickly grew to despise. Little touches keeping true to the original play/novel were sprinkled through the story, such as the mermaids being not very nice, and a new island called Keelhaul that only appeared when Pan left Neverland added another dimension to Hook’s burgeoning adulthood. If you’ve read the Barrie novel, you’ll recognise a lot of Neverland in Never Never, but Shrum, whilst keeping mostly true to the canon, managed to take the details one step further to enhance the experience of being in Neverland: for example how the weather and forest changed around Pan’s moods.

I really felt for Hook in this retelling. I mean, I’ve never liked Peter Pan anyway – he’s heartless, cruel, arrogant, selfish, and completely incapable of caring about anyone but himself. Shrum showed us in great detail exactly how Hook changed from being an unwilling Lost Boy to Pan’s greatest enemy – the slow hardening of his heart, the slow-burn rage against the immortal boy who stole everything from Hook – his life, his love, his hand. But above it all, Hook strove to remain and English Gentleman, an Eton man of good form.

Hook’s relationship with Tiger Lily was interesting – Tiger Lily is Peter’s dream, but she chose to grow up to be with Hook. But being linked as she was to Peter, she could never fully give herself to Hook. I’ve heard about retellings where Wendy is in a love triangle with Hook and Pan, but I’ve never before heard of Tiger Lily in love with the pirate captain, so I found that an interesting twist – and it actually worked really well inside of Barrie’s canon as well.

Another aspect I really enjoyed was the loyalty of Hook’s crew – they immediately recognised him as their captain, even as a boy, and although they occasionally questioned his orders, as he grew older and less polite, the crew remained loyal throughout everything. Starkey and Smee especially had important roles as Hook’s confidants.

I absolutely loved how Neverland was Peter’s dream, and he filled it with the dreams of others by stealing Lost Boys from London. Peter was very good at creating how own reality, so even when James insisted his stay was only temporary, Peter would only look at him blankly and insist he was a ‘Lost’ Boy. It made me wonder if the other Lost boys were truly lost, or if Peter stole them with sweet seductions and promises of Neverland like he did Hook. Neverland was Peter’s creation, and actively loved Peter, and that’s why Hook found it so hard to be his enemy. What would happen to Neverland if Peter was killed? Would it cease to exist?
The book started out very classic middle-grade and as Hook grew up, so did the story, until suddenly it was jarringly Upper-YA and Hook was sexing up all the wenches he would find and having on page sex with Tiger Lily.
Speaking of, the relationship with Tiger Lily didn’t always work. It felt very Ross and Rachel, very ‘will they/won’t they’, and so repetitive that it eventually grew boring. I kept awaiting the arrival of the Darling children because then I knew the end would be near.
I found myself waiting for Hook to get older because I knew he was a full-grown man when he faced Pan for the last time. Somewhere from about the middle of the novel onwards, when he was certainly a man, I kept expecting to see the Darlings arrive, but it was just more dallying around with Tiger Lily, plotting to end Pan but not really doing anything about it, and strutting about the ship yelling at his crew.


Apart from the dragging of the Tiger Lily romance and Hook’s dilly-dallying about killing Pan, which at some points in the novel I found boring and repetitive, I really enjoyed Never Never, especially the first part when Hook is still a boy. The classic middle-grade prose really pulled me in so I found the change to Upper-YA a bit jarring and quite frankly a little deceptive, but it’s obvious Shrum both loves and respects the original story whilst being able to fill in a lot of the details to make a vivid, rich reimagining of Hook’s story.
Profile Image for Brooke's Epic Emporium.
865 reviews188 followers
September 24, 2015
I want to thank Spencer Hill Press for providing me with a copy of this book to read and give an honest review. Receiving this book for free has in no way altered or influenced my opinion.

I love retellings. And I have never read a retelling of Peter Pan. And I can recall seeing this show on broadway with my mother when Sandy Duncan played Peter Pan. I remember her flying out over the audience and it being one of the greatest things I had ever seen in my young life. So given the chance to read this story from Hook's perspective totally intrigued me.

The first part of the book introduces us to the young James Hook. As a young boy, James in hopeful and optimistic of what his life holds. He's not the bitter, mean and vengeful Hook we are used to seeing in the original story. All he wants to do is grow up and be a man. I really enjoyed seeing Hook as a young boy. But when he meets Peter Pan, who offers him a short getaway to a magical place, he can't resist. And as he spends time with Pan and the lost boys, he begins to change. You can see it in how he processes what is going on around him, in how he begins to think that he just wants to go home but will never get there. It makes him bitter and resentful.

The second and third parts of the book shows Hook as a young man, one who has grown up against the rules of the Pan. And because he's done so, he is exiled from the only home he now knows. And Pan continuously haunts him and taunts him. Slowly Hook starts to realize that the only way he will truly be happy is if Pan is not around at all. Thoughts of revenge ravage his mind. Pan becomes his obsession, to the point that he can barely ever think of anything else. Even when the love of his life, Tiger Lily, tries to make him see there is more than Pan and he should forget about him, he just cannot.

The transformation of Hook in this book is amazing. You truly see the story from such a totally different perspective. Where we know Pan to be this young boy who doesn't want to grow up and just wants to have fun, in this book he's so much more vengeful and spiteful than you could ever imagine. One understands why Hook has an obsession with trying to kill Pan, to rid the world of what Hook feels is a plague in his life.

And you actually care about Hook in this book because you see the battle he has raged throughout his life with Pan.

The writing is really great, as well. It flows easily and I didn't want to put the book down. I love when a book sucks me in like that!

I will say that the ending kind of left me wanting something more, something to wrap things up. I'm not sure if the author wants us to see what we will see with how she ends it, or if she thinks there might be somewhere else to go. I don't see there being more to the story, but I will say the open like ending left me a bit on edge.

Overall, I truly enjoyed this book and for anyone who likes retellings, or even those who don't, this book is a spectacular read. If you are a fan of Pan, you'll enjoy the story as told from Hook's POV. And if you're not a fan of Pan, you will see why Hook wasn't either! A definite must add to the TBR for any fairytale lover.
Profile Image for Jana (Nikki).
290 reviews
January 19, 2016
This review can also be found at my blog, There were books involved...


Actual rating: 2.5 stars

For as long as I've known about retellings, I've been on the lookout for a truly amazing YA retelling of Peter Pan. I am convinced that, if done right, this hypothetical retelling would skyrocket up to one of my favorite books of all time. In my head, it just has so much potential.

I saw that potential in Never Never when I first heard about it. However, after finishing it, I can say with certainty that this void in my life -- the one waiting to be filled with the perfect Peter Pan retelling -- is still empty.

From the very beginning, I got the feeling that Never Never probably wouldn't be skyrocketing up to my favorites anytime soon, but I held out hope that I could still really enjoy it. As I continued on, however, reading this book became more and more of a struggle.

While not bad, the writing itself was definitely not my cup of tea for a longer book. It had a sort of "classic children's fairy-tale" vibe to it, which can be good; but in Never Never 's case, I had a couple of issues with that. First off, the writing gives the impression of a younger-YA/upper-middle-grade book, and yet the content definitely veers into upper-YA territory later on in the story. That sort of disconnect between tone and content always ends up feeling... weird, to me, to say the least. Mostly, though, my main issue was that I felt like the writing was almost exclusively telling. This was one of those instances where I was reading, and something was bothering me about the way the story was being told, and I couldn't put my finger on it, until it smacked me in the face and the telling was all I could see for the rest of the book. Emotions, motivations, character development -- I felt like it was all spelled out.

And that single issue heavily influenced my perception of every other aspect of Never Never , especially the most important thing, to me -- the characters. Never Never is basically a retelling of Peter Pan, but it might also accurately be called a sort of prequel -- at least, the first three-quarters of it until Never Never catches up with where the original story begins.

The difference between Never Never and the original, though, is that Never Never is James Hook's story. And as awesome as "Hook is the main character!" sounds, and as much potential as a darker "backstory" for these characters could have been, I absolutely could not connect with Hook or his story. The emotions, all told, fell flat for me. As the plot progresses, I think the reader is supposed to feel sympathy (to an extent) for Hook's tragic plight, stuck in Neverland because of Peter Pan, but I couldn't get invested in his character or his struggles.

Later in the story, there is a bit of romance, which I was hoping might help with my lack of investment -- a lot of the time, if there's a ship I can get on board with, I can ignore a heck of a lot of dislikes elsewhere. But unfortunately, that whole relationship was fraught with even more issues, and ended up being another source of disappointment and frustration for me.

Finally, I also had some issues with the plot -- which felt to me like it lacked any sort of clear direction. There's the whole "Hook wants to kill Pan" scenario, of course; but that didn't feel like an actual "plot" to me. Beyond that, Never Never just... meandered. Looking back on it, I don't know why it was so long, when the plot felt so very thin.

In conclusion...

Honestly, I probably should have DNF'd this one, but for some reason, I kept reading. I think this was mostly a case of wanting so badly for the book to finally grab my emotions, but that never happened. A boat-load of "telling" is one of the best ways to distance me from any story, and Never Never kept me at arms' length the entire time. I wish I could say the ending, at least, was solid; but by that point, the (lack of) plot and disappointing character arcs had let me down so badly that the conclusion just felt predictable and emotionally unsatisfying.

I do think a lot of people will still enjoy this one, because of the novelty of a darker, YA Peter Pan with Hook as the main character and Peter as the antagonist. But despite desperately wanting to love it, it just wasn't my cup of tea.


There were books involved...
Profile Image for Sarah Louise.
751 reviews325 followers
February 17, 2016
“You’re a lost boy now, James. There is no home for you but here.”

Peter Pan portrayed as a villain is not something I haven’t seen before, but I always enjoy when a normally pleasant, charismatic character can be twisted into something more sinister. And Never Never by Brianna Shrum does the malevolent Peter Pan really well.

There is noticeably something off about this Peter Pan from the beginning, and he definitely verges into psychotic territory early on. Never Never gives us a story about a broken promise, where young James Hook finds himself trapped within the magical land of Neverland. Here he begins his revenge on Peter Pan and journeys into the adventurous life of a pirate.

The rivalry between Peter Pan and James Hook started with a perfect blend of ferocity and resentment. James Hook wants Peter Pan to pay for destroying his life, and to succeed in this desire, Peter Pan must die. The constant plot to seek revenge, however, became really repetitive. I get that the innocent side of James Hook was continually peeking through, but there was always something interfering with his plan.

The romance was a bit of a disappointment, as well. There was definitely sexual chemistry between Tiger Lily and James Hook, but beyond that… I felt nothing. The connection between them, at least from Hook, seemed purely physical and underdeveloped.

The actual journey through Neverland, and meeting its inhabitants, was fantastic, though. The connection between Neverland and Peter Pan was quite unique and added something a little more special and interesting to the story. I enjoyed the moments involving the pirates, especially. Their abrasiveness towards the decisions made by Hook was unlike a usual pirate crew, but much needed at times. James Hook was not captain material, in my eyes.
Profile Image for Maritina Mela.
336 reviews85 followers
June 24, 2020

In this retelling of Peter Pan's story, the roles of the hero and the villain are reversed. For this time, Peter is the villain and the actual protagonist is James Hook.

James is a little boy from England. He has a father whom he idolizes, a mother whom he loves very much and a little brother on the way.
But as every child he has dreams. His greatest dream, is to grow up and become a pirate (something he probably takes after his father who's a sailor) something that is not gonna happen, to his dismay, soon enough.

One day, while taking a walk in Kensington Gardens, he encounters a boy around his age. Peter.
Peter doesn't understand James' wish to grow up and he starts telling him about Neverland, a land where children don't have to grow up and he invites James. The latter is hesitant at first, but on Peter's last day in England, he finds him and tells him he wishes to follow him. And of course, Peter lets him

But very early on, James regrets his decision and asks to be shown the way back home. Which Peter rejects. Realizing he has been tricked, he decides to stay with Peter and the Lost Boys, since he has nowhere else to go.

One day however, Peter takes his Lost Boys to attack a pirate ship. Which happens to be the one James dreamed into existance. When Peter kills one of the pirates, James is scarred and from then on, he begins to grow old.

Peter is aware of that and turns on James, living him to die (i.e. thinning) alone in Neverland's wilderness. James is luck tho, because he finally manages to set foot on his ship, the Spanish Main and become its captain.

He vows vengeance on Peter and begins to live as a real pirate. He also develops romantic feeling for the Indian Chef's daughter, Tiger Lily, whom he knew since they both were kids. But of course, good things don't last forever.

Because, during one of Peter's attacks on the ship, he mutilates James' and feeds his hand to a crocodile. That, of course, scars him both physically and mentally, plus, it puts a strain on his relationship with Tiger Lily, whom he accidentally wounds deeply with his hook that now replaces his severed hand.

From then on, he becomes colder and more distant and greedier. It is then that he takes on attacking other pirate ships and slaying other pirates.
In one of those encounters, he actually gets to meet his baby brother, the one who was on the way at the time of his disappearance, who, similar to him, loves pirates and is dreaming of becoming one. That's his only way to catch up with what his family is doing and gets angrier at Peter for having him robbed off of all that.

Meanwhile, Peter begins to be more and more absent from Neverland, which is the second best thing James can hope for now (besides vengeance of course). He reunites with Tiger Lily and he even swears to drop off his plans for revenge and his pirate ways, for her sake.
The thing is tho, Tiger Lily can't let go of her feelings for Peter and probably neither can James of his revenge, and this is what ends their relationship once Peter returns to Neverland.

Near the last pages of the book, most of the stuff we see, are stuff that have happened in the original. Peter returns to Neverland with the Darlings, Hook attempts to poison him and he abducts the Lost Boys and at their final duel, Hook realizes his moments are numbered and decides to give his everything in order to take Peter down with him. And as expected, he fails. And falls in the sea, where he comes face to face with the crocodile that had eatten his hand all that time ago.

In his last moments, the former Lost Boy, makes peace with death and is finally reunited with his other dead friends and parents, still having a smile on his face.


Peter Pan -the original- was one of the first books I read and reviewed when I became more active on Goodreads. And back then, I was pretty vocal about my disliking of Peter and sympathy for Captain Hook.

So, a book where he is the main focus and sometimes, even the hero, seemed like a great pick for me.
And you know what? I actually think it was okay.

Well, it wasn't perfect of course. Like, there were some parts of the writing that didn't sit well with me (for example: "He had a sort of wistful look on his face. The kind of look that was generally reserved for men on their wedding days or women when they first beheld the tiny faces of their newborns. James was beholding a future untained by foolish youth and silliness." which, uhm, kinda of a silly and overdramatic quote if you ask me.

Also, I found the characterization of Hook to be kinda inconcistent at times. For example, he wants to grow up, but he follows Peter. And then the only thing he does is to pick up fights with him and question his authority. And after he realizes he has been tricked and is left to die for the first time (the thinning was the second time he was left to die) he goes back to being a follower of Peter. Even tho he doesn't stop growing up. And he is actually almost a fully grown adult when he is kicked out of the team. And don't get me started on him instantly becoming a great pirate and being good at everything he does (well, despite fighting Peter of course.)

I think I'd much prefer him to start off as a child who doesn't want to grow up and follows Peter, only to realize after some time, that this isn't what he wanted and how much of a narcissist Peter is, then run away to the Spanish Main and slowly evolve into a famous pirate.

Plus, Peter himself is a mere threat here. Mostly because we only hear about him and see him a couple of times. His character is a bit shallow, in the literal sense and in the sense that he only exists to make Hook's life miserable. Even his vile acts aren't really adressed. Like, the guy tricks kids into following him and kills them if they don't abide by his rules, this is pretty terrible, don't you think? Plus, the Lost Boys are underdeveloped as hell. There is no distinct way to tell them apart, personality-wise, and we are never shown how Hook gets to grow attached to them. Because he does. When, why and how, we don't know, but we are told so, when one of them dies in his arms. Go figure.

Funnily enough though, I did enjoy the more fluffy stuff with Tiger Lily. Yeah, the miscommunication was strong, but I did find myself enjoying the angst and the whole relationship thing oh my god, did I actually want to read a romance novel with pirates?

For that and the whole interesting consept and protagnist, I'm giving it a higher rating.
Generally speking, I think the book was kinda better when the author was trying to do her own thing, instead of relying on J. M. Barrie 's ideas.

If you made it this far, congratulations!
'Til next time, take care :) :) :)
Profile Image for Cameron.
551 reviews35 followers
June 6, 2016
When I think of James Hook all that I see is this:

And boy, did this book make that image more solid!

Imagine you are a 13 year old boy just out taking a walk and all of a sudden this strange boy shows up telling you that there is a magical world and he wants to take you there. But once you get there he refuses to let you go home. That is what happens to our beloved villain, Captain James Hook.

James Hook suddenly finds himself thrust into Neverland with the horrifying realization that Peter is never going to take him home. Peter is cruel and slowly James becomes the one thing he did not want to become. A murderer.

This book was amazing and took a real look into who Captain Hook is and how he became to be the legend that he is today. We also see Peter Pan the way he is supposed to be. The child thief. I would honestly recommend this book to anyone. There was a lot taken from the original Peter Pan and even the 2003 movie version but that makes this book even more amazing. It makes it seem as if Brianna Shrum made Neverland even more real than we probably already wish it was. Don't lie, at some point in time you wanted to go to a place where you never grew up. This is a great book and it is very well done. The characters are expanded on what we already know and when it comes to Hook is not very much. But please pick up this book and dive into the world of the most terrifying pirate Captain Jas. Hook!

Profile Image for Christina.
261 reviews225 followers
April 29, 2016
4 stars

So, I admit that I've never read the original Peter Pan :-/ I did, coincidentally, happen to buy it recently and it's hiding in my closet with the intention of being one of my daughter's many Christmas presents. But, my only experience with Peter was from the Disney movie, in which, of course, you root for Peter. But in this retelling, it's the complete opposite. I disliked the Pan from pretty much the moment he was introduced.
The story begins with a 12 year old James Hook who dreams only of growing into a man ( and occasionally of being the fiercest pirate captain of the seas ). Upon a chance encounter with Peter Pan, he learns about Neverland, a place created by children's dreams, where boys never grow up. He takes up Peter's offer to go there, but just for a short holiday, making Peter swear to bring him back home to London. Neverland isn't anything close to what James imagined it would be, so he asks Peter to take him back home, but Peter refuses, claiming James is a lost boy and will stay in Neverland with him and the other lost boys. He gives him a short list of cardinal rules, the most important one being that James cannot grow up. But grow up he does, which sets everything else into motion.
This story is about Captain James Hook, how he came to be, why he ultimately came to hate Peter with a passion, and his quest to kill the Pan in a magical land where it seems everyone and everything loves Peter Pan. I was rooting for Hook the whole time, and find that I will now never be able to watch the Disney movie with the same perspective. A great retelling!
Profile Image for Natalie (Never trust a duck).
264 reviews170 followers
October 28, 2015
Thank you NetGalley for letting me read an arc in exchange for a review!

I wanted to like this book so much. It was my first YA Peter Pan retelling and I was ready for some mind blowing Never Land action. Of course, I was pumped to imagine Killian Jones from Once Upon a Time as Never Never's Captain Hook.

The writing in this book was very well done. It was simplistic but still flowing and vivid. It was definitely giving off a more middle grade vibe, but that wasn't a big deal to me.

I made it about 50% in before I gave up and started skimming. Getting to 50% took a looooong time, I just had no desire to go back and read more (but I'm one of those people that can't find it in themselves to not finish a book). I felt not much happened in the beginning, and it sort of picked up when James became Hook, but I only ever really looked forward to his meetings with Tiger Lily. Peter Pan was eh.

Just not my cup of tea.

Profile Image for Stacee.
2,694 reviews702 followers
September 27, 2015
2.5 stars? I don't even know.

I was a little disappointed in this book. I loooooved the idea for it. I mean, who doesn't want to know Hook's backstory?

I found Peter to be horribly irritating. Like ruin the story sort of irritating. Of course that means that his character was written effectively and that he served his purpose. And it helped me to understand Hook's obsession. As for Hook, I didn't really connect with him either. I found him to be a bit lacking. It felt like the only scenes that James was himself was when he was with Tiger Lily and those scenes were some of the best.

Yes, I completely understand that my reasons for not liking the story mean that Brianna did a great service to these characters. She absolutely did. I just wasn't captivated like I was expecting to be and struggled to finish the book.

**Huge thanks to Spencer Hill Press and NetGalley for providing the arc in exchange for an honest review**
Profile Image for Kelly Hager.
3,097 reviews129 followers
August 1, 2015
From the second I heard about it, I was excited to read this. While I'm not huge on Peter Pan like my friends Kathy and Hannah are, I like stories told from a new perspective. And Neverland as explained by Captain Hook? YES AND YES.

And from the first sentence, this book completely had me. I loved James Hook, and the way that, even as a little boy, he couldn't wait to grow up and be a man. Obviously he and Peter Pan are going to have major problems, right? Because how can you possibly get along with someone who never wants to grow up when that's all you want to do?

And oh, James and Tiger Lily. I am generally not a shipper but I loved them (together and separately) so, so much.

This is a fantastic book, one of my favorites of the year.

Highly recommended.
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