Lost Boy by Christina Henry

8/10 This isn't a nice story, there are a lot of deaths along the way.

I am never sure what to expect from novels that tell a different version of events from a classic story, in this case, a prequel to J. M. Barrie’s Peter Pan. Sometimes these stories are told very well, whereas other times they are simply not needed. Luckily, Lost Boy is the former and exceeded my low expectations.

Lost Boy begins near the end of the story, we are introduced to Peter, Jamie and the other lost boys. Jamie is our narrator and we are quickly told that he is Peter’s right-hand boy. Peter will always do what Peter wants and Jamie is there to be his conscience, whether it is wanted or not. Jamie has become a voice of reason in Neverland and is the closest person the Lost Boys have to an authority figure. Part one of Lost Boy is called Charlie,  who is the youngest of the Lost Boys at the very young age of five. Jamie is worried that Charlie is too young to be on the island and has taken it upon himself to look after Charlie, much to Peter’s annoyance.

This version of Neverland is much more dangerous than those previously encountered. The games that the Lost Boys play can lead to death, which seems to happen frequently and at times because Peter wants these deaths to occur, almost as if it is part of the adventure of living in Neverland. There are some familiar tenets running through the story: want; need; love; betrayal, each with the refrain “what wouldn’t you do for someone you loved and looked up to?”. As children, we do not necessarily understand other people's wants and needs, but we can feel the pain of betrayal to be life-destroying as portrayed across these pages.

Peter is described as being like a god, he is very charismatic and always gets what he wants. Peter is like the sun, but what happens when the sun stops shining on you? As Jamie learns more about Peter’s true nature his willingness to protect the other boys grows. Jamie unintentionally destroys the world they all know without realising the consequences of his actions and exposes some truths about Neverland that Peter has been keeping to himself. There are a lot of interesting rules that the boys seem to know and Peter shapes the boys to his own way of thinking. It is only Jamie that takes on the cost of how many boys have come and gone during his time on the island. Jamie is no longer sure exactly how old he is, as he only has vague memories of his own parents and the events that led to him meeting Peter. 

Although there are moments that felt predictable as it is fairly obvious from quite early on who Jamie ended up becoming in the original version of Peter Pan. It is heavily hinted at from two scenes including the description of the Red Coat that Jamie had stolen from a pirate. Poor Jamie, he always knew he was special being the first boy brought to the Island, but it is only with his trust in Peter failing that he begins to notice changes not only to himself but his views of Peter as well.

This isn’t a nice story, there are a lot of deaths along the way. The characters that make up the Lost Boys are quite distinct, but this doesn’t lessen the impact of children dying, even if they may be older than we can imagine. The Lost Boys still they have the innocence of children and it is only when that is lost, when they can no longer believe that Peter is their friend, that they begin to grow up or are killed in any number of ways. Lost Boy is an interesting take on what it means to grow up, as well as the deconstruction and new beginnings of a legendary villain. I felt a lot of pathos for Jamie, for all he has lost and for all that he will never have.

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