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Lost in the Never Woods

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When children go missing in the small coastal town of Astoria, people look to Wendy for answers.

It's been five years since Wendy and her two brothers went missing in the woods, but when the town’s children start to disappear, the questions surrounding her brothers’ mysterious circumstances are brought back into light. Attempting to flee her past, Wendy almost runs over an unconscious boy lying in the middle of the road, and gets pulled into the mystery haunting the town.

Peter, a boy she thought lived only in her stories, claims that if they don't do something, the missing children will meet the same fate as her brothers. In order to find them and rescue the missing kids, Wendy must confront what's waiting for her in the woods.

384 pages, Hardcover

First published March 23, 2021

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About the author

Aiden Thomas

8 books7,498 followers
Aiden Thomas is a New York Times Bestselling author with an MFA in Creative Writing. Originally from Oakland, California, they now make their home in Portland, Oregon. As a queer, trans, Latinx, Aiden advocates strongly for diverse representation in all media. Aiden’s special talents include: quoting The Office, finishing sentences with “is my FAVORITE”, and killing spiders. Aiden is notorious for not being able to guess the endings of books and movies, and organizes their bookshelves by color.

Their debut novel, CEMETERY BOYS, was published on September 1st, 2020.

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5 stars
3,434 (23%)
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3 stars
4,120 (28%)
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Displaying 1 - 30 of 3,445 reviews
Profile Image for Aiden Thomas.
Author 8 books7,498 followers
February 11, 2021
HEY FRIENDS! i am so excited for this book to be out in the world soon, and i wanted to share some of my favorite tropes that i put into LOST IN THE NEVER WOODS since, let's be real, it's BASICALLY fanfic and i LIVE for romance tropes!

if you like:
✨modern au
💖second chance romance
🥺oblivious pining
👀forced proximity/there's only one bed

then this is definitely the book for you!

i'm also running both a domestic AND an international preorder campaign, where you can get beautiful character cards and a glow in the dark enamel pin!

for more information and how to enter 💖: https://www.aiden-thomas.com/never-wo...
Profile Image for Hailey (Hailey in Bookland).
614 reviews87.8k followers
April 5, 2021
DNF @ 40%
I'm so beyond sad that this didn't work out for me. I was going to try and push through, but I realized I'd literally be forcing myself and didn't have any desire to continue, so I decided not to. I loved this author's debut novel, Cemetery Boys. So much so that it was one of my top books I read in 2020! So I was SO excited for this! A Peter Pan retelling? Sign me up! But unfortunately I was really disappointed. I don't think this is a bad book, but it was soooo slow. I was 40% of the way in and didn't really know what the story was or really anything much about the characters, so it was hard to care and want to continue. It just never went anywhere and didn't seem like it would ever end up anywhere unfortunately. Wendy was pretty one dimensional, as was Peter. And their story never came together like I had hoped. It just kind of seemed like a lot of the same thing and what that thing was, wasn't much. Just a lot of Wendy wondering what's going on and what she isn't remembering. But that was really it. I'm so sad I couldn't push through this one, but I think some readers will enjoy it. It just wasn't for me.
Profile Image for megs_bookrack.
1,615 reviews10.7k followers
September 11, 2023
**2.5-stars rounded up**

Five years ago, Wendy Darling and her two brothers, Michael and John, went missing in the woods close to their home.

Six months later, Wendy was found, but with no memory from the time she was away, or the fate of her little brothers.

After she returns, the police question her pretty hard, not sure how much of her story they can believe. Perhaps she knows more than she is letting on.

Now in her Senior year of high school, Wendy is working at a hospital and trying to move on with her life, although she is still plagued with thoughts of her brothers.

When children start disappearing again, in ways similar to Wendy and her brothers, all eyes look to her for answers.

She still cannot recollect what happened all those years ago, but agrees something is definitely going on, as the boy she thought lived only in her stories becomes real before her very eyes.

Peter Pan. He is real and he is pleading with Wendy for her help finding his shadow; the villain of this tale.

Lost in the Never Woods was one of my most anticipated releases of the year. Sadly, it didn't exactly live up to my expectations.

The first 10% seemed really promising and the last 10% gave me a conclusion that felt satisfying. However, everything in between was a giant slog.

The tone was quite melancholy and morose. The pace was incredibly slow, the relationships forced and the magical elements felt bland. Not what I was hoping for.

The writing style itself was good. It had a pleasing flow and you can tell that Thomas put a lot of thought into the real world issues discussed; grief, guilt, PTSD, those aspects were well done.

Overall, it just wasn't what I was hoping for and I never felt connected. With this being said, there is a Reader for every book and vice versa.

So, don't take my word for it. If the synopsis sounds interesting to you, give it a go. It could end up being your new favorite book!

I will definitely pick up more work from this author in the future. I already own Cemetery Boys and am really excited to get to that one!

Profile Image for Nilufer Ozmekik.
2,307 reviews44k followers
February 23, 2022
What a fanfreakingtastic book I’ve just devoured! I loved Cemetery Boys! But this unique, this precious definitely whispered to my soul when I saw it at the B&N’s shelves which reminded me of my arc request has been rejected! It hurt like hell and gave me a reason to get my own copy ASAP!

After being hypnotized by the cover which was about dragging me into lost woods and made me stood up for three hours at same position till the security guards of the bookstore pulled me back off from the shelves as my salivas dripping down on my cheeks, I finally bought my copy and hired a carrier to take me home ( after three hours standing still could turn your legs into jellies that served at the hospitals)

Anyways, as soon as I went back home, I ignored my husband tell me order any takeouts and I also ignored my agent who was waiting for at least ten pages for my next thriller movie script and had an amazing appointment at the Neverland, diving into scary, more emotional, exhilarating, dark, bleak but interestingly promising retelling of Peter and Wendy’s journey!

Wendy Darling becomes 18, finishing her volunteer shift at the hospital, still hearing whispers behind her back because of traumatic experience she’s endured five years ago: somebody took her and her two brothers away. After six months later she has found in the woods, suffering from loss memory, traumatized, holding an acorn into her hands, having no idea where she has been during her disappearance and the whereabouts of her brothers.

She still deals with her guilt feelings, trying so hard to get back her memories, witnessing her mother and father’s dealing with their grief in different ways, burying herself into daily chores, concentrating on her college education to pursue her career as a nurse just like her mother.

But at her birthday, as soon as her shift ends in the hospital, she drives her car to her home but at the road, something suddenly jumps on her car : like a bleak creature with a dark shadow.

As she stops her car, she finds a boy lying in the middle of the road. The boy is so familiar. Someone she’s chasing in her dreams. Someone who cannot be real. Someone she keeps drawing pictures of. And he knows her name. How?

She wants to make sure she’s not dreaming so she drives back to hospital. The boy wakes up and keeps screaming her name. Later she finds out he’s Peter! Not regular Peter. He’s her Peter! Peter Pan!

And this is not the only crazy thing she has to deal with it! Somebody kidnaps small kids around neighborhood. Peter’s dark shadow might be responsible about those children’s taking away. Dark shadow of Peter is feeding himself with little children’s sorrows, fears, guilts, sadnesses, despairs and as he’s getting stronger, Peter is losing his magic and his powers. He barely flies, starting to grow older, getting weaker at each second.

If Wendy wants to help him reattach with his shadow, she also needs to remember the terrifying trauma she’s endured five years ago which could help her to find about where her brothers are.

Wow! No more words! This was heart pounding, stunning adventure! As a big fan of Peter Pan in Neverland, it was so obvious for me to fall hard for this remarkable story! Before reaching at the middle of the book, I already decided to give it five gazillion stars and after finishing I didn’t change my mind.

I’m so sure I’ll read great ya fantasy novels this year, but this book already reserved his unique place in my heart. This is incredible. One of the best fantasy works and amazing retellings of the year I highly recommend.
Profile Image for Steph.
576 reviews299 followers
July 16, 2021
it pains me to give such a low rating, but it also pained me to read this book as it wore on. i love a good retelling, especially of a story as magical as peter pan. and after adoring cemetery boys, my expectations of this book were high. that's a factor in my disappointment, but ultimately, lost in the never woods is a far weaker story.

the writing style is repetitious, the plot is lackluster and terribly slow, and the whole book screams of lost potential 😭

cemetery boys is exposition-heavy as well, but it's redeemed with well-balanced action scenes, wholesome characters, and amazing representation. lost in the never woods lacks this balance. hardly anything happens. the majority of the book is spent on wendy's repetitious narration. and it reads as really young YA, despite wendy being in her last summer before college.

the woods themselves are darkly beautiful, and i like the small town woodsy vibe. peter's character is written in the same adoring manner as cemetery boys's julian (aiden thomas has a thing for these charming, semi-unattainable magical boys!).

but nothing else in the story ever comes to life. we have a few brief glimpses of magical neverland, but the book never takes us there, either. not a fairy in sight.

there are a million small frustrating things that never add up: wendy's best friend, jordan, who is absent for most of the book and seems to be included as an afterthought. wendy's compulsive handwashing, which at first i thought was very cool to see represented... but after the beginning, it's never mentioned again??

and the lack of lgbt+ and poc representation. (jordan is a poc, but she's hardly in the book) of course thomas isn't obligated to make all of their books gay, but i was really surprised that there's not even any side representation.

the romance is hetero, but it's a soft slow-burn, which is really nice. there is one magical moment in particular that made my heart glow for peter and wendy. i can appreciate the bittersweetness of it all: a girl on the brink of adulthood and a boy who's not meant to grow up. it's poetic, but it's not enough to carry the whole book.

i was really interested to see what thomas would do with this book's villain .

but it's cliche and cartoonish rather than scary. the villain spends the entire book looming menacingly, but is taken down easily. there's just no fear or sense of urgency here!!

this was a buddy read with my friend sofia, and they said it best: the more you think about the details of the plot, the more it all unravels.

the book's acknowledgements mention that lost in the never woods was seven years in the making. i wonder if thomas was pushed to publish it now due to the success of cemetery boys? it's a shame, because the premise is lovely, and we know thomas is capable of writing an amazing story!! i'm looking forward to seeing growth in their next book.
Profile Image for Emma☀️.
332 reviews333 followers
April 6, 2021
Crying because I really thought I would love this but I did not😭

Lost in the Never Woods had a great premise. It is a Peter Pan retelling and so much darker than Thomas’ debut - Cemetery Boys. Unfortunately I did not enjoy it as much as I thought I would. The story did not hold my attention and I had a few issues with the pacing.

The characters were very surface level with little depth. It was difficult to connect to any of them. Wendy was one-dimensional and slightly bland. However the way that grief and loss was portrayed was well done. I felt Wendy and her family’s pain and their struggles with overcoming their grief.

The pacing was a bit of an issue for me. It was so slow and nothing happened until the last 20%. Wendy and Peter had no plans or sense of direction when figuring out what to do to save the kids. It was frustrating because it was stressed that they were running out of time and the fate of the kids’ lives rested in their hands, yet they do nothing about it (except go on detours to get ice cream).

In terms of the romance, I found it rather forced. Wendy and Peter did not have chemistry and it felt rushed. In my honest opinion, I would have loved it if they had a platonic relationship instead. Additionally, there was something about the romance that felt a bit off to me. Peter was first introduced as a 13-ish year old boy at the beginning of the novel and over the course of a few days, he aged to 19 (around Wendy’s age). In my mind, he was mentally still a kid. Maybe I'm missing something, but it feel a bit weird.

Personally, this book was not for me. I do think some others will enjoy it if they like Peter Pan retellings. I’m sad that I didn’t enjoy this, but I will still continue reading Thomas’ future works.
Profile Image for Peyton Reads.
178 reviews1,784 followers
April 5, 2021
Not me crying over this when it was the coziest book ever. I want a sequel and there’s not supposed to be one so I’m HURT. 4 stars because not going to lie the middle kinda dragged.
Profile Image for Debra .
2,422 reviews35.2k followers
March 20, 2021
3.5 stars

That cover!!!

It has been five years since Wendy Darling and her two younger brothers, John and Michael, went missing in the woods. Now other children have gone missing. It is a painful reminder to Wendy and her family that while Wendy was found, her brothers were not.

One night Wendy almost runs over a boy lying in the street. A boy who asks, "You forgot about me?" His name is Peter. A boy, she thought only existed in stories. The ones her mother told her and the ones she tells the children at the hospital where she volunteers.

He needs her help! They must go into the woods....

A YA retelling of Peter Pan! This book touches on many things in a brilliant way. Through the book we see guilt, withdraw of emotions, missing children, fairy tales, love, loss, grief, memories, mental health, and friendship. Who could not feel for Wendy and her family? Parents who do not know where their sons are. The grief, stress, and heartache of their sons being missing. Wendy feels guilty for being found, guilty for being with her brothers when they all went missing, and we see a father who emotionally withdraws from his child when she is found but his sons are not and a mother who works long hours perhaps to avoid being home.

Peter represents childhood, innocence, wonder, fun, magic and the ability to make things be/feel okay again. He is like a safety net with possibilities. But what happens when a safety net needs help? Peter and Wendy are both likeable characters who both need each other. Both want to help others, yet both needs help themselves. So much more could be said about the characters (and plot) in this book, the metaphors and the hidden magic. But I will let you discover them.

Thankfully, the heavy subjects brought up in this book were handled/addressed with grace and care. There is also humor, magic and hope in this book. It is both heartbreaking and heartwarming. There were times I wanted the book to move a little faster, it felt like it slowed down quite a bit in the middle of the book. If you feel this way, stick with this book as it gears up again!

This is a YA book, but it is enjoyable for all. Fans of retellings, fairy tales, Peter Pan, and those who are a child at heart will enjoy this book.

Thank you to Macmillan Children's Publishing and NetGalley who provided me with a copy of this book in exchange for an honest review. All the thoughts and opinions are my own.

Read more of my reviews at www.openbookposts.com
Profile Image for Elle.
587 reviews1,399 followers
December 9, 2021
Now a Goodreads Choice nominee in Young Adult Fantasy & Science Fiction!

I don’t think Lost in the Never Woods got all the way there for me. I wanted to like it so much more than I did, and I’m disappointed that Aiden Thomas’ sophomore novel couldn’t fill that role.

Many of the elements from a traditional Peter Pan story are present here. There’s the Darling family: Wendy, Michael and John. There’s Peter himself listening at their window. There’s the Lost Children and a misbehaving shadow. But in this modern day version, Wendy has just turned 18 and volunteers at the hospital where her mother works. The sole one of her siblings to reappear after the three Darling children vanished five years ago, Wendy and her parents have barely been able to move on from that traumatic event. They haven’t really processed the implications of her brothers’ disappearances and only seem to be going through the motions of living.

But then the boy from her stories, Peter Pan, crashes into Wendy’s reality and asks for her help locating his missing shadow. And almost simultaneously kids in the area have started to disappear again. So as Wendy sets off to help Peter once more, she hopes that she’ll be able to find answers on what happened to her and her brothers all those years ago.

The biggest sin this book commits is that so much of the plot is just…..absent. It’s 80% waiting around for things to happen and 15% reacting to things. I have no explanation for why it stalled so much other than Thomas had to put off the actual storyline until later in the book or it wouldn’t be full novel-length. Sure, there’s circumstances where it makes sense to delay action-y sequences for later, but it didn’t match the tone of the story. Children are missing, there’s some sort of monster running around and neither Peter nor Wendy appear to have the motivation to investigate more than an hour each day.

There was a particular scene where instead of looking for her brothers, the two of them go and get ice cream, that was so jarring to read. Or one where Wendy flirted with a stranger in a parking lot moments after watching a boy be snatched. I genuinely believed there was something more nefarious going on with Peter, possibly influencing her to just forget that all these kids *she knows* are vanishing, but nope. They both just couldn’t be bothered most of the time. There was no sense of urgency in their actions or in the writing.

I didn’t like the ending either. I won’t spoil it, but I think the author was going for a realist/gut-punch finale that didn’t end up carrying the emotional weight it was trying to. By that point the book had meandered so much that I was mostly relieved it was coming to an end. Lost in the Never Woods wasn’t bad or the worst thing I’ve read recently, but I just wish I had prioritized something else.

**For more book talk & reviews, follow me on Instagram at @elle_mentbooks!
Profile Image for Mischenko.
1,021 reviews97 followers
June 5, 2021
Peter Pan is one of my favorite childhood stories, so picking up this retelling was a no-brainer, especially with the beautiful, captivating cover. This is my first Peter Pan retelling, and I had no idea what to expect. Without a doubt, this book was a pleasant surprise.

My review may contain a mild spoiler.

The story follows the main character, Wendy, through a life-changing event. As a child, Wendy spent time in the woods with her brothers, John and Michael, and they all came up missing. After a time, Wendy reappeared, but she couldn’t remember anything, and she had no idea where her brothers had disappeared to. Time moved on, and Wendy became a young adult. Now she volunteers at the local hospital aspiring to be a nurse like her mother. People still question what happened to her brothers--mainly because other children have gone missing since. Wendy's parents are stuck; they're workaholics and neglect her, while Wendy moved on after this tragedy--anxiety and all. Her parents have never gotten over losing the boys, and while they don’t directly blame Wendy, the vibes are there. Other people don’t seem to be accepting of Wendy’s amnesia either. Why can’t she remember what happened that day? Are her brothers still alive? Who’s kidnapping the other children in the area, and are all of these events somehow connected?

This retelling follows the original Peter Pan narrative and conflicts for the most part. The author omitted the problematic parts, built off the original narrative, and made this book quite inventive though. In this story, Peter asks for help after losing his shadow. Wendy needs help discovering what happened to her brothers and the other missing children because her depression and guilt are a heavy load to carry. They work together to solve their problems.

The premise is intriguing, the story is written well, and it kept me engaged for the most part, but while the first third of the book hooked me, the middle slowed down substantially. Eventually, it picks back up with an unpredictable ending. I liked being in the same position as Wendy: you don’t know what happened with her brothers until the very end. There were some hints in the story as to who could’ve been involved, but it's left a mystery until everything comes together for the conclusion.

This is a fantasy, but some of the more realistic events in the book weren’t believable, especially with the police investigation. Also, Wendy’s parents were an issue for me with how they completely shut down after losing the boys too. My first response to how they acted in this story was incredulity, but everyone deals with trauma differently, and I tried to keep that in mind. I’ve never been in the position of losing a child, but I imagine some people would deal with the grief in the same way Wendy’s parents did, even when it’s incredibly damaging to others. After all, there wasn’t closure for anyone, and without help, they were all coping with this tragedy on their own. Wendy becomes the acting adult after her brothers’ disappearance. This is where some of the deeper themes came in. Wendy was just a child herself when her brothers wound up missing, and believe it or not, she considers herself having some responsibility for it. This is thought-provoking and got me thinking about some of the adult responsibilities we delegate to our children.

Another small issue I had was the romance, which felt out of place. It barely amounted to anything and could’ve been omitted altogether, in my opinion. The ending, although not an issue, was extremely emotional for me too. This likely stems from some of my own personal feelings on childhood, growing up, letting go, and moving on after trauma, and it's these parts of the book that were very heavy, in my opinion.

As far as the book cover: I find it stunning and somewhat deceiving because it led me to believe this was a middle-grade book. It’s geared toward young adults, not that there’s any questionable content for certain age groups, but the book does explore mental illness and some deeper themes that would be better suited for older readers.

Overall, I found this retelling dark, haunting, imaginative, and emotional. It’s a story of love and loss, growing up, facing your fears, and holding onto hope. I plan to read some of the author's other books in the future.

Profile Image for Sheena.
613 reviews277 followers
March 26, 2021
I want to start off by saying that this book was one of my anticipated releases for 2021 and I was left feeling disappointed and sad. I love Aiden Thomas’ first book Cemetery Boys SO much. In fact, it was one of my favorite books of 2020 and I highly recommend that one.

I love the original story of Peter Pan and most of the movie adaptations as well. I was super excited for this retelling and the cover is gorgeous. Also, full disclosure, I do love Aiden Thomas and will be reading their next book even though this one didn’t work out for me. Writing a negative review for this author pains me.

So first off, Wendy was not a good character. She lacked personality and sometimes a brain. I found her useless as well as Peter himself. They were easily distracted from the big issue at hand and I understand it was supposed to build their romance but I found their romance to be unnecessary and a little forced. It took 80% of the book for things to actually pick up the pace. I found the pacing to be extremely slow.

Typically, I enjoy Thomas’s writing but something about this one I found a little hard to get into. Some editing would’ve benefitted this book as well.

Thank you to Netgalley and Macmillan for an advanced copy in exchange for an honest review.


Shout out to to Kelsey from Macmillan for sending me an arc <3 SO EXCITED
Profile Image for Grace (kanej & evajacks' version) .
283 reviews207 followers
April 6, 2023
This was super entertaining!! 🤩🤩 I didn't really have any expectations going in, but it was a really fun & unique retelling! 💜💜

“But that’s what happens when you grow up—you forget about the magic you’ve seen.”

Lost in the Never Woods is a Peter Pan retelling in which Wendy and her 2 brothers go into the woods and then vanish. Wendy was the only one to return, with no memories of what happened. 5 years later, Wendy is now 18 and kids are going missing again- and these disappearances may be linked to Wendy's past. Then Wendy encounters Peter Pan, a boy who she didn't know existed. it is now up to Wendy and Peter to find the missing kids and defeat the mastermind behind it.

I've never read a Peter Pan retelling before, nor have I read a book by this author before, so I was going in kinda blind. But I ended up enjoying this a lot! ✨

“Shadows are made up of darkness. They feed off of sadness and despair. They manifest what you’re most scared of and use it as a weapon to feed off your fear.”

Starting with the characters! The characters in here were pretty good!! we didn't have a super big cast, but I liked most of the characters we did have. I really liked Wendy as our mc- her struggles felt very real and I enjoyed reading from her pov 🥰🥰 I also really liked Peter- he was giving major golden retriever energy and he was so cute. I really liked the way Aiden Thomas developed his character. Otherwise, however, none of the other characters stood out but that's ok bc Wendy and Peter were great 💕

This was my first Aiden Thomas book as I said and I didn't know what to expect from their writing- but I really liked it! It was pretty simplistic but this made it super easy to read. Not my fav writing style or anything, but I liked it 💜

The plot was where I had mixed feelings. What I really liked about it was the story was super intriguing and took so many twists and turns I wasn't expecting. It was a really good retelling- it included enough aspects of the original story to be recognizable but was also its own story 🥰🥰 There was this one plot twist at the end and I GASPED OUT LOUD 🤯🤯 I could never have guessed that!!

“I want you to live, Wendy, not just endure.”

But the plot was definitely not perfect. The biggest problem was that the pacing slowed down a lot in the middle part- things were still happening but the plot wasn't advancing that much. The beginning was great, i was so hooked, and it wrapped up really well but I did get a little bored in the middle... There was some sweet moments and revelations in the middle but overall the pacing could've been done better 🙁

There was also a smidge of romance in here but it was only that- a smidge. I wasn't expecting romance tbh but I actually enjoyed what little crumbs we did get!! 🤩 I was shipping them a lot. The sweet moments between them in the midst of that crazy plot were definitely keeping me going. My only critism was their ending... it was realistic but i wanted more. It was still a very cute romantic subplot tho 💗

“But his intense eyes felt like they held the age of the galaxies swirling behind them. He was a star locked inside a boy’s body.”

“You've never felt like you were missing ... something?" [...] "Not until I met you.” ~ 🥺🥺

Overall, I really enjoyed this!! Would definitely recommend if you want:

✔ Great writing
✔ Good characters
✔ A little bit of romance
✔ Peter Pan retelling!

It was a great read 💜💜

~ 4 stars


I really enjoyed this!! 🤩🤩 Such a unique retelling with a really interesting story ✨ A very entertaining read 💜💜

Profile Image for Adri.
986 reviews799 followers
February 1, 2021
4.5 Stars

CWs: Explorations of familial loss, grief, and trauma; some descriptions of anxiety/anxiety attacks, compulsion, and alcoholism (in parents); allusions to night terrors and insomnia; instances of kidnapping; some descriptions of injury and violence

☆ Check out my spoiler-free reading vlog for LITNW!

As someone who absolutely loved Cemetery Boys , the bar was pretty high for Lost in the Never Woods, but Aiden Thomas did not disappoint.

LITNW is a story that goes hard in the paint when it comes to exploring trauma, reactions to trauma, and mental health. Wendy is an extremely traumatized, extremely anxious person, who is still grappling with the disappearance of her brothers and how that's completely shifted her family's entire dynamic. While she's surrounded by people who intellectually know what she went through all those years ago, very few people actually understand how she feels and how the situation haunts her. That desperation and uncertainty she feels really underpins the writing style in the story. It's a narrative that moves quickly, almost frantically, and leaves the reader feeling breathless with each new discovery and the terrifying implications of those discoveries.

I think that's what makes the dynamic between Wendy and Peter so fascinating and so emotional. Peter represents magic, wonder, and in many ways safety, and Wendy is slow to trust him because everything he represents is just another unknown. Wendy is terrified and alone when the story begins, and she's used to making herself small to make everyone's life easier. But Peter is gradually breaking through her walls, offering her a potential connection to her brothers and her past, and sort of reintroducing her to wonder and joy. At the same time, he's validating her fears and feelings, which she has always thought to be "irrational." Peter also represents a chance for redemption, because Wendy has spent all this time harboring guilt over the fact that she couldn't keep her brothers safe, especially since she sees it as her job to protect the people she loves.

She and Peter are very similar in that way. They see it as their responsibility to take care of others, even if it means taking on their pain, and they are both convinced that all the bad things happening in town are because of their own failings, because they weren't able to "be better" in some way. I think that really speaks to the lasting impact of trauma and nursing guilt instead of addressing it. I think the story also has a lot to say about how the act of growing up is almost traumatic in itself, because in many ways, growing up means learning how to be hurt, and Wendy and Peter are being forced to confront that pain in a very literal, magical sense.

To me, Peter and Wendy represent a reconciliation between pain and joy, and this evil shadow magic growing in the woods represents how pain is a living, breathing entity that grows stronger and strengthens its hold over us the more we feed into it. When we learn to extract joy from painful moments, hope from hardship, and love from loss, we become more powerful for it. That concept is what really struck me the hardest in this story, and I really appreciate how the story converts survivor's guilt into power.

It is such a different story from Thomas' debut, but in some ways it is very much cut from the same cloth. There's joy, there's humor, there's an impossibly tragic yet hopeful romance, but there's also a really honest look at the hard choices survivors have to make and the destructive power of grief. While there were some supporting characters I wanted to see more from, I was still completely immersed in this creepy, atmospheric story and I was completely blown away. Aiden was already an auto-buy author and this tremendous story just solidified that fact even further!
Profile Image for Mara YA Mood Reader.
342 reviews268 followers
Want to read
June 20, 2020
Astoria, Oregon?!! My brother lived there when he was in the Coast Guard—a beautiful, charming little coastal town with steeeep roads and where the iconic Goonies and The Kindergarten Cop were filmed!! I already feel connected! And was already had at “Never Wood”
Profile Image for Leo.
4,385 reviews408 followers
February 22, 2023
This manged to be close enough to the Peter pan story, yet having a different take on it to make it their own. I liked the mystery surrending her missing brothers and other children. Very intriguing story to keep listening to
Profile Image for toointofiction.
216 reviews211 followers
September 27, 2023
“You're shaking. I thought you weren't afraid of anything?"
"I'm terrified."
"Of what?"
"Losing you.”

⚠️TW: Child Abductions, Trauma

I am officially convinced that Aiden Thomas cannot write a bad story.

The story is an absolutely fascinating contemporary Peter Pan retelling with a dark twist of several child abductions happening in Wendy's hometown, and major shocking plot twists. Even though the romance isn't the main focus of the story, it is still a delightfully frustrating slow-burn with lovely development and chemistry, as well as an interesting ending. I loved how Wendy and Peter are modernized but still heavily based on the originals. I was particularly fascinated by Wendy's traumatic backstory, how it affected her, and how she deals with it.

However, I was a little disappointed that Tinkerbell isn't in the story.
Profile Image for sarah.
404 reviews269 followers
April 12, 2021
“Shadows are made up of darkness. They feed off of sadness and despair. They manifest what you’re most scared of and use it as a weapon to feed off your fear.”

I went into Lost in the Never Woods knowing absolutely nothing, apart from the fact that it is by the same author as Cemetery Boys- a book I haven't read but have heard excellent things about. It was a fun experience to be completely blind, but it turned out I really wasn't because this is actually a retelling of a story I am familiar with- Peter Pan.

It follows Wendy Darling, a 19 year old girl in modern day America five years after she and her brothers mysteriously went missing, and she was the only one to come back. She has no memories of what happened while she was gone, but when she came back her family was forever changed by the grief and guilt. Now, more children are starting to go missing in their town which brings the question of Wendy and her brothers' disappearances to the spotlight once again. One night, something crashes into Wendy's car and she discovers a boy who knows her name, but that she has never met. Wendy has only heard about him in her mother's stories- Peter Pan. From there, they go on a quest to retrieve his lost shadow and attempt to save the children of Astoria.

Once I realised that this was what the story was about, I was so excited. It seemed like such an interesting plot, how could it go wrong? Unfortunately, it did. The pacing was so dreadfully slow that it felt like trudging through mud, despite having the audiobook to speed things up. The overall tone was not what I had envisioned. Instead of being magical, whimsical and slightly dark- the book felt bleak, dull and lifeless.

The characters were also underwhelming. The only ones I felt particularly positive about were Peter and some of children at the hospital Wendy volunteers at. And that's probably just because I had already been exposed to Peter Pan and had preconceived ideas about him, and because children are so easy to love. Apart from that, I couldn't really care less about the fate of the other characters. I sympathised with Wendy and her position in life, but I was also annoyed by her and her decisions.

I was also a bit iffy about the romance. It could have been a really good, second chance romance, mutual pining etc. However, the fact that Peter was mentally 13 and Wendy was 19 kinddaaa put me off. It also just felt forced and like there was no real chemistry.

All that being said, I didn't hate this book. The writing was well done and the plot was well thought out, just not executed to my liking. I also know I will probably be in the minority here, so if you are still interested in the book and don't mind a slower, more sombre book- I would recommend it! I am also still planning on reading Aiden Thomas' debut in the hopes that it will work better for me than this one.

Thank you to Macmillan Audio and Libro.fm for this ALC

Release Date: 23 March 2021
Profile Image for Moru.
300 reviews28 followers
September 25, 2021
4 stars. ⚜️

Did I just read a Peter Pan fanfiction? You bet I did. And it was amazing.

Let me tell you something, while the pacing of the book is off, the story is great. The premise is great. Peter was such delight and seeing Wendy as a senior was something I didn’t think I needed until now. And the end? Ugh. My heart.

You want some angst? Here. Read this book. It’s not going to disappoint.
You want some mystery? Here. Read this book. It’s not going to disappoint.
You want some second chance romance? Here. Read this book. It’s not going to disappoint.

The story was so wonderful that it made me want to watch Peter Pan again just for the nostalgia.

I do have to say, that if you want a book that is fast-paced and to develop a plot from the beginning, this might not be the book for you. It’s a book that deals with themes such as grief, pain, trauma, and mental health but there’s also so much fluff and sweetness that made my little heart very happy.

Btw, the cover itself should deserve a rating of its own, like what? It’s beautiful. 😌

“Wendy gazed up at the stars, and the stars gazed back.”
Profile Image for Kimmylongtime .
899 reviews83 followers
July 20, 2023
You know that Disney movie 🍿🎥 you grew up on?
Yeah !!! you know the one ☝🏽 with the dancing and smiling when Peter took Wendy and her younger brothers to NEVERLAND!!!
Yeah that one where James Hook was the villain 🦹‍♂️!!! Lol forget all that. It’s absolute shenanigans!!

This story takes place 5 years after Wendy and her younger brothers were abducted. She was lost 😡 for 6 months and her brothers never returned.

This book started so eerily in the woods that everyone kept getting lost in. Wendy now 18 years old going to college in the fall is heading home after leaving her job at the children’s hospital. It starts with her radio 📻 going all staticky and the branches of the trees slapping up against her truck 🛻. That is until she sees a flash of light and strikes something heavy like a body.

Wendy jumps out of her car terrified because this is the original woods that ruined her life. What she sees is a Peter Pan look 👀 alike but that can’t be true. He’s from a 🧚‍♀️ fairytale isn’t he? So Wendy ignores her original reservations and calls 911.

What happens next is a whirlwind of pain as she recalls the days after she was found in these same woods. How she was strapped to a bed 🛏 how she screamed out every night for her baby brothers. The smell of grass. This giant tree she just couldn’t 🙈 seeing in these horrible visions.

Some might say that Wendy suffers from OCD but I am here to throw that concept away. She suffers from severe PTSD similar to many victims. She has a fear she will be lost again, crippling anxiety attacks and she dreams about the time in her life when she was at her weakest. Add that in with visions and a town that doesn’t believe a damn thing she is saying and you have Wendy!!!

*This is strictly my opinion from here*

I think Wendy’s parents were the biggest D**K heads on the planet 🌎!!!

How dare you blame a baby for something she didn’t do? Especially without proof or any background story. Her parents never actually ask her anything. They literally won’t even talk to Wendy. Are you freaking kidding me…? You are sad because you lost your children. Try being kidnapped with your brothers for months and coming home with their blood and clothing under your fingertips and you protected them the entire time you were gone and you still could not save them. They have pain because they don’t know what happened but imagine being in the middle of so much pain and fear and everyone blames you. Even your own mother and father.. On some real real ISH I kind of wish she would have at least slapped the father but instead she kept cleaning up his beer 🍺 bottles because he was a drunk and her mom was a workaholic.. FFF them !!!

*Now back to the regularly scheduled programming kids !!*

I listened to this in audio and it was fabulous.I felt everything. The sound of the 🍃 leaves hitting Wendy’s truck 🛻. The pain in her fingertips from washing her hands so much. The scrape of her pencil even when she was sleeping 😴. The despair when she slowly started to remember what happened then losing it all over again.

This book was filled with so much pain and there isn’t really an HEA there is just a sense of answers finally coming to surface. I promise everything you have set in your mind about this story forget it. Come into this with an open mind.

**spoiler & possible triggers DO NOT read ahead if you don’t want to be spoiled **

-Abuse off page
-dead children
June 24, 2021
This was one of my biggest anticipate releases of 2021, and I was really looking forward to it, but unfortunately, it fell short for me. The cover, title, and synopsis all seemed AMAZING, and I've never read a peter pan retelling before so I really thought I would love it...which is why I'm super disappointed that I didn't 😭

Plot/Pacing: This was my biggest problem. The pacing was just waaay too slow for me, very extremely, slow. The whole first part of the book, until about 68% was very very slow, where nothing was happening except for them eating ice cream, going down waterfalls, and mentioning over and over and over again how time was running out and they had to something.

"But the far more dire reality was that they were running out of time"(58%)
"They were running out of time" (64%)
"Now more than ever, they were running out of time"(65%)

and also the same thing about a bajillion times in a bajillion different ways between that.

The Writing: The writing style was okay, but it wasn't at all how I expected. Maybe I had too high expectations, but I was expecting something magical and whimsical, and this writing style turned out more normal, and a little dull.

The Characters:
Wendy lacked dimension for me. She just felt very flat and the only part of her that was very real and also well done were her grief and emotions. Personality-wise though, I couldn't come up with a single word to describe her.

Peter was better for me since his personality was a lot more fun to read about and he was a much more vibrant character. He was just like the Peter Pan I would picture in my head and he was more complicated than Wendy, even though he was the side character.

The Setting: ahhhhh 😭 (that's me crying in disappointment again). I expected the setting to be in Neverland, or at least in a creepy dark forest, but most of it was set in the regular world, which is where is why the title is so misleading. Lost in the Neverwoods, makes it seem like most of the book would be in some sort of mystical and magical world, when that really wasn't how it was.

Honestly, I'm not even sure why I have it two stars then, maybe because it was still fun to read sometimes and I liked Peter...

✨ You can find this review and others on my blog! ✨
Profile Image for Anniek.
1,869 reviews693 followers
March 14, 2021
I'd heard such mixed things about this that I was almost hesitant to start, even though this was one of my most anticipated releases of the year. But one of my friends told me that while she didn't click with this, she thought I really would, and she was so right. I absolutely loved this book!

I guess I'm newly discovering I might have a thing for Peter Pan retellings, but I also just love Aiden Thomas' writing. While this book was so different from Cemetery Boys, it still distinctly felt like an Aiden Thomas book, and I think that's really impressive.

My one issue with this book is that I think it could have been condensed to a significantly shorter book without losing meaning. While I thoroughly enjoyed my reading experience, I can see why people are saying they got bored, because the book definitely dragged at times.

Regardless, I think this was an amazing exploration of grief that filled me with sadness and happiness at the same time. And I loved Peter so, so much.

If you're planning to read this, I would highly recommend the audiobook. The narrator did an amazing job!
Profile Image for ATheReader- check my bio.
199 reviews59 followers
May 2, 2021
4.5 stars
Well well well. It is time to write my review.

It is true that this book isn’t as good as Cemetery Boys. It is true that at some points I was aware that I was reading text. BUT I really did enjoy this book. I think that one thing that Aiden Thomas is really good at is writing characters. His overall writing is pretty majestical but his characters just come alive on the page.You really get a feel for their characters and they are all so human and don’t seem artificial. They are never perfect or “dreamy” but always end rooting for them.

Another thing about Aiden Thomas’ books that I absolutely love is the challenge that the characters are faced with. They aren’t handed any endings, they never end with a completely satisfying life, but the stories end with definitive endings which I love.

I loved this retelling because it remastered the tale and made it it's own. I think that the plot was extremely engrossing and perfectly timed.

My blog post for Aiden Thomas: https://athereaderofbooks.wixsite.com...
Profile Image for Gina Adams.
635 reviews56 followers
February 4, 2021
Thanks to NetGalley and the publisher for the chance to read this early!

I'm bummed. I hate to compare an authors' books to each other, but I really can't believe this is the follow-up to Cemetery Boys. The characters in Cemetery Boys were so fleshed out and believable, the story was well-paced, the ending flowed well.. The stark contrast between this, Thomas' sophomore novel, and their debut, is really surprising.

It's a Peter Pan retelling, which has definitely been done before, but it's always fun to revisit. Peter feels easy to characterize - manic pixie dream boy-esque, mischievous, child-like, innocent; I think that's the real strength of this story. Peter's character was whimsical and boyish, he really was like someone you'd have a dream about. Wendy, who is the main character in this story, is where it starts to unravel. I mean, it's been a while since I've watched Peter Pan, but Wendy is kind of like... boring. It seems like it'd be hard to assign her character traits, and she doesn't really have any in this story. She and Peter's chemistry feels a little forced, even though they did have some nice moments together.

The story itself is where the bulk of my issues lie. For the first 60% of the story, nothing happened. They just met up and talked in different spots. They also spent the entirety of the story in our world. I wasn't promised anything other than that, but I assumed from the title that they would at least be in a creepy magic forest if not actually in Neverland. So that may not have been false advertising, but I did misinterpret the title and cover and was disappointed because of that. Similarly - which, granted, there were a handful of adult couples and just two teen couples, but everyone (as far as I remember) was straight. I'm not saying an author has to write their story any kind of way, but after the overflow of diversity that was Cemetery Boys, I just expected something different in this story. But yeah, they spend all this time just literally talking about the same thing over and over, and then a plot twist came up that was actually surprising, and the outcome of that was PURE melodrama. All the build-up led to maybe one page of reveals, and the reveal was just so nonsensically fast, and upsetting, that it was enough to send you physically reeling. I will say I recognized part of the reveal as being a popular fan theory, which may have been the catalyst for this book's inspiration. I think it would be fun to try to write, too. The end of this book was also incredibly rushed to have had so much drag in the beginning of the story.

There's a few things that are randomly weird for no reason - Wendy's dad has a study, and Wendy has never been in there. Like, never. No one ever told her to stay out, she just felt like it was off-limits. Her mom tells her to get the trash out of there and she goes in for literally the first time, noticing the wall was painted green and that there was a chair and stuff.. This is a teenager, who has absentee parents, living in a house with a room she "doesn't go in," but that is kept unlocked... yeah, right. The second my dad left for work I would be running in there just for the simple reason of being nosy and that I could. Ya know? So that kinda useless scene was just so absurd to me.

There's also a 5 year time jump between Wendy and her brothers' disappearance and the events of this story, and what Peter was doing in the meantime is never really explained. I just thought it was weird.

ALSO five whole kids go missing from town over the course of this story and the most they do is a search party and only for the last two. Like men who live near the forest these kids were last seen by aren't interviewed, there's no curfew installed in the town, like nothing that would actually happen in real life happens in the face of this serial kidnapping, as it would appear. The most the cops do are come and harass Wendy, whose only connection is that she also went missing from the town at some point.

All in all, the finished copy may change, but I really wouldn't recommend this one, as sad as it is to say. I think younger teens may enjoy it, or anyone who is really passionate about hitting all the Peter Pan retellings, but other than that, I'd say skip it.
Profile Image for Sofii♡ (A Book. A Thought.).
401 reviews431 followers
June 6, 2021

“Shadows are made up of darkness. They feed off of sadness and despair. They manifest what you’re most scared of and use it as a weapon to feed off your fear.”

I loved this book; I think that despite being slow, it's extremely atmospheric and very entertaining to read. There's a great construction of the environment in mystery and suspense that makes you feel excited. You can't stop reading because you really want to know what will happen, which I love, there's a lot of anticipation with it, and obviously, the setting is ideal. The characters are good, nothing awe-inspiring, but I did like the interactions between them and the family, friendship and romantic relationships are all very realistic, in my opinion. So yeah, I really liked it, and I'm excited to recommend it to everyone!


4/5 ⭐⭐⭐⭐

You can find more of my reviews & fun content on my blog A Book. A Thought.

In this story we follow Wendy, a girl who lives in a small seaside town of Astoria, five years ago she got lost in the forest with her brothers, but only she returned with no memories of what really happened, now the children have begun to disappear in the forest again, and this is a trigger for Wendy who now must face again a past full of guilt that haunts her. With all this happening, a mysterious boy named Peter appears in town, a boy who, to Wendy's surprise, not only lives in the stories that her mother used to tell her but is very real and needs her urgent help to recover the lost children, and a once in the woods, Wendy must face what really happened the night her brothers disappeared.

There's something so compelling about this Peter Pan retelling, and I think it's above all the fact that it's extremely dark compared to the original one and has some twists that make it stand out and become a unique story on its own; I really enjoyed every moment reading it. And even though it has a slow pace and the characters can become slightly annoying, that didn't get in the way of my commitment to the plot itself, which I consider is the main protagonist here. The plot is very intriguing, mysterious, and has a kind of creepy atmosphere that keeps you hooked; I really like the touch the author gave it and the paths that he has decided to take with it. In this book, we not only explore who Peter Pan is and not only do we have a magical and surreal touch, but I also think it's important to note that it touches a lot of family aspects and given the circumstances of the disappearance of Wendy's brothers as children, it obviously explores guilt, depression, and desolation of the characters under this fact. It's hard to see how much this tragic event has affected the lives of Wendy's parents and her own, being her older sister, and all the guilt and anguish that she feels. Personally, I connected a lot with her feelings regarding this, and I really felt the connection she had with her brothers, which is super special. I connected especially because I'm also the older sister of two boys, so that's why it struck a chord in me.

As I already mentioned, we also have some magical aspects that come from the obvious hand of Peter Pan, who's in trouble since his shadow has disappeared and has become this evil entity; in addition to this, we know a little about Neverland and its concept. In this book, it's just brilliant! We don't go through Neverland precisely, he only mentions it, but still, you almost feel like you were there. I understand that this is a new perspective within Peter Pan's story. I like the author has decided to focus more on the real world, bringing itself factors of magical realism and fantasy ones in general.

Obviously, I really enjoyed the author's style; I think that although it's quite descriptive, it's still very compelling, and I'm excited to read more of his work; without a doubt, he's very talented. In addition, I also liked the dialogues quite a bit; some moments are kind of cringy, I won't lie, but mostly quite adorable and credible. One factor that I usually have trouble connecting with is romance, but this time I loved it; it's super subtle, and some scenes took my breath away; I was like, "just kiss each other already," lol I liked it a lot.

When I refer to this book as being darker, I not only mean the atmosphere and the setting itself, which is absolutely brilliant, I must say, the small-town vibe is my jam, but I also mean that it contains quite intense and graphic scenes that can cause a lot of pain, some twists are heartbreaking, and I personally go through a lot of emotions, especially towards the ending. If you've already read it, you know what I mean, it's a quite crude scene in particular, and the emotions that Wendy feels are very intense, so I recommend discretion if you're sensitive to too much graphic content and high levels of pain. I know it sounds extreme when I describe it, but it was quite triggering for me, so I wouldn't want someone to run into that twist without expecting it, you know?

I loved the ending; I found it different from the "conventional" endings, you know? I found it very original and, above all, extremely significant; I liked it a lot. It leaves you with a bittersweet feeling when you finish the book because you carry the weight of your emotions with you, and it breaks your heart a little, so I read the last pages with many mixed feelings, which somehow makes the end more powerful even.

In summary, this is a great book, extremely atmospheric, with a setting worthy of a movie, characters that may not stand out on their own, but do create a great cast when they interact with each other, the dialogues are solid, and it has beautiful scenes that aren't only meaningful and full of feelings, but also this is a book full of aesthetics, it's beautifully described, which is worth highlighting. I also like that this is a book that not only focus on the aspects of retelling as such, it also takes time to focus on the tragic story of parents who lose their children and a sister who blames herself for it and punishes herself for having dreams and illusions, you know? It's profound, and the thoughts and emotions are incredibly successful; it's a great job, and without a doubt, I highly recommend it. Despite having seen more negative than positive reviews, I took a risk with it, and I recommend it, it resonates with me, and I think it's worth it.

First Thoughts 06/01/21

I loved this book!! I’d heard some negative opinions, but it worked very well for me, I do think it’s a bit slow and can be dense at times, but I honestly love the idea of ​​the plot and I’m not even the biggest fan of Peter Pan, but I still managed to get 100% hooked with what happened with the characters. It’s one of those books that you have to start knowing that it might take a while to finish, you know? but that depends on each reader, I guess. The first part flies, it’s super dynamic, things happen all the time and there’s also a lot of mystery and suspense, which keeps you wanting to know what will happen, but then it stops a bit in the middle and then I really liked the end. I think overall it’s a solid book with a magical dark small town atmosphere of the kind I love, plus there’s a spooky forest involved so.. sing me up! Plus, there’s a lot of chemistry between the characters and the personalities are very well marked. I didn’t really like Wendy’s personality, but it wasn’t a big deal. I’ll have my full review soon, I promise
Profile Image for Tessa.
109 reviews1 follower
July 10, 2022
5/5 stars!

I faintly remember playing pretend at being Peter Pan and the lost boys with my cousins when I was little. This story has a very dear place in my heart, and brings me so many nostalgia.

I was so pleasantly surprised to hear there was a Peter Pan retelling. When I finally got my hands on it, I was so excited to read it and see what it was about.
I loved the fact that Wendy was almost my age in this book. It made it so much easier for me to relate to her: loving Peter's stories when she was little, and having a hard time accepting the fact that magic was happening in front of her very eyes as a young adult.

The dialogue was so easy to read, the writing was a treat to get into, and I found myself hooked on the mystery throughout the whole book. I had a hard time imagining Peter different from the Disney version of him, which was kind of weird, but hey, can't blame my head for that.

I was a SOB FEST during the last 10 pages. Tears, sobs, and snot and all of that.

Was I warned it might be heartbreaking? Yes.
Was I convinced I wasn't going to cry? Yes
Did I still cry like a baby? Yes.

Overall, a really heartwarming book, well suited for younger readers and for anyone willing to relieve childhood magic.
Profile Image for ahaana ☎️ (semi-hiatus).
145 reviews121 followers
July 4, 2021
Read the full review on my blog

Lost in the Never Woods is a captivating Peter Pan retelling, that had me (captain) hooked* throughout all its twists and turns. Filled with raw and accurate portrayals of loss, grief, and trauma, it’s definitely a read that moved me. Although I loved the friendships, and the elements from the original story, the character development felt flat, and I never felt an emotional connection with any of them. If you enjoyed the original Peter Pan as much as I did, I’m sure you’ll have a ton of fun re-exploring neverland in this contemporary twist on the classic.

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