Wednesday, September 2, 2015

Book Review: Peter and the Starcatchers (Ridley Pearson and Dave Barry)

 
 
Peter and his little gang of fellow orphans are shipped off on the Never Land to become slaves. Also on the creaky, slow ship is Molly Aster, a peculiar girl that catches Peter's attention. But something else catches his attention. A mysterious trunk, hidden away under canvas. But Molly is hiding something about it, something important. But when the dread pirate Black Stache gets wind of this treasure, he'll stop at nothing to take it for himself. But the trunk is much more than treasure, and it could change Peter's life forever.

Peter and the Starcatchers has a plot of mystery and high seas adventure. The tension that builds is exciting, making you eager to know what happens next, and who claims the trunk next. The story begins to branch off into several POVs as characters race for the trunk, and the back-and-forth motion the trunk tends to take is amusing (but in a good way), and it makes the tension rise.

Peter is an interesting protagonist. He looks out for his fellows, but he also has a side of him that wants to look out only for himself, at least for a time. But he also risks the wrath of Mr. Slank as he sneaks about the ship in search of decent food for the other orphan boys. He grows to become more aware of their needs and welfare, in a way, when his chances of escape diminish. Part of his development confused me at one point near the end. I didn't understand the why to it, exactly, but he matures under it.

The villain (or one of them) Black Stache is frighteningly clever and ruthless. It makes him scary, but not overly so. It's the kind of scary that a reader might enjoy. The feeling of "oh, he's a creepily good villain." Another villain surprised me, as I didn't quite know he was as twisted a villain as he turned out to be. It was unexpected, but made the tension rise even more.

There were a few moments where the dialogue felt cheesy or cliche when it came to discussing the good and evil that surrounds the trunk and it's starstuff, but it was simple for the story and got the point across. It was an interesting and fun twist to how Peter Pan came to be, setting the stage for the adventures against Captain Hook, partnered with the Lost Boys and his pixie companion. Ironically, Peter grows up in this story, becoming something of the Peter many of us know.

***

Violence/gore: The boys are cuffed often. A sailor is punished lightly for trying to abandon ship. The natives force a handful of characters over a wall to be eaten by "Mr. Grin." The mermaids bite two of the characters, giving them nasty wounds, and the characters in turn deal harm to the mermaids by shooting one and hitting another over the head. A character is stabbed, and another has his hand cut off.

Profanity: D-word. Referenced swearing.

Sexual content: Black Stache has made a sail out of fabric used for a woman's undergarment, called a brassiere, and the sail is shaped as such (the hardcover edition has an illustration). A mermaid performs mouth-to-mouth on Peter, and he assumes she's just kissing him. Fighting Prawn jokes that his tribe kiss on the lips instead of shaking hands.

Other: Rum is consumed in large quantities by both sailors and pirates.

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