Wednesday, November 11, 2015

Book Review: Peter and the Secret of Rundoon (Dave Barry & Ridley Pearson)

*****Warning: There will be spoilers.
In this final installment of the Starcatchers trilogy, Peter and his gang of Lost Boys must go up against the darkness that threatened them last time. Ombra is back, and they must go to Rundoon, a country where the Others are headquartered. But Peter's involvement in the plot for starstuff is greater than he or anyone expected. The fate of the world rests on the shoulders of a boy who never grows up.

Secret of Rundoon was full of action and suspense, again leaving little breathing room for the characters. Like with the two books before it, Mr. Barry and Mr. Pearson lay out the conflict, heroes, and villains immediately before pushing us into the adventure. The plot again splits between the events Mollusk Island and wherever the various hero POVs are at, but both storylines continue to incorporate the elements of the classic Peter Pan tale, bringing it all together. I liked learning more about Peter, the things he didn't even know about himself. It brought him closer to the conflict, giving more at stake to his ultimate success or failure.

Peter has matured in this book. While he hasn't grown physically, you can see his growth in other ways. His loyalty to his fellow mates and other friends is as strong as anything, and he will do anything to keep them safe, even at the cost of his own life. I liked seeing a little more of Peter's struggle to accept that he's not growing up too, and that everyone he knows and loves are going to grow up without him. It would have been interesting to see this a little more prominently in the story, but it came up often enough to not be entirely forgotten, and gave the ending a bittersweet touch.

The villains are again excellent. Ombra is back, and this time things happen on his own playing field. He and his kind are creepy, and their interactions among themselves dark and cold and always mysterious. I didn't really appreciate Ombra's backstory, in which he essentially infodumps to Lord Aster the origins of his kind and of starstuff. The monologue being there at all in the scene seemed unneeded, and the content itself was something I disagreed with, personally. But my personal beliefs aside, the scene itself does help to explain a few things.

King Zarboff of Rundoon, too, was an interesting villain. He didn't seem as developed in personality and mannerisms like Black Stache was, but he had the same cruel heart. You learn enough of Zarboff in book one to know what he's like, and meeting him in person we learn the reports from book one are no lie. One thing I find interesting is that Zarboff kind of defies a stereotype. Zarboff's physical appearance makes him out to be a fairly large man, and then with a dark and cunning villain like Ombra one might expect Zarboff to be a clutz of a king with a lot of bulk (a bit like Jasmine's father in Disney's Aladdin). But he's not. He's serious, and he's cruel. There are moments where he seems comical, but often it's with a dark sense of humor.

I liked seeing the final elements of Peter Pan come together in this book. I'm reading the classic for the first time, but I recognized many of the elements. The Lost Boys, the ticking crocodile. There were some parts I didn't see when I thought they might be there, but overall this trilogy did an awesome job of telling a fun and unique "behind the scenes" story of Peter Pan. There was an instance during the book where a character was shot in the arm, rendering it useless at the time, but I didn't feel that the character reacted accurately to the pain. If a bullet wound causes that much damage, the character probably would have been in much more pain. That reaction of pain would have made the action at the moment more intense, I think. But this was a minor issue. Overall, I enjoyed this trilogy a lot.

Violence/gore: A new band of island natives, the Scorpions, are vicious, and they  attack the Mollusks, with casualties on both sides. One character is grazed with a poison arrow, but left only weakened. A couple boys are shot, but not too seriously.

Profanity: If there was any, it was only referenced.

Sexual content: Peter and Molly share a kiss on the lips.

Other: Molly's tendency to disobey her father continues, and while it helps find answers, she continues to disobey him without any consequent punishment. A flying camel delivers dung bombs upon the Others. Ombra's abilities to steal shadows and manipulate and invade the minds of humans might be a little unnerving to some.
Have you read this trilogy? Or books one or two? What did you think? Tell me all! :D

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