BOOK REVIEW – Never Never by Brianna Shrum

BOOK REVIEW – Never Never by Brianna ShrumNever Never by Brianna Shrum
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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.


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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  1. Vane J.

    I love Peter Pan, but I’ve only read one retelling of it – The Child Thief. Have you read it? If not, then I recommend it, BUT if by what I understood from this review, you loather Peter for being a killer, then you will absolutely ABHOR him in TCT. I loved him, but ehhh. Great review, though. It would be really interesting to see Hook’s side of the story; however, I think I will skip this.
    Vane J. recently posted…How Books Influence UsMy Profile

    • Jen

      I was so excited to see Hook’s side of the story, because you never to get to hear about that. It was interesting seeing him being painted as “good” and Peter Pan being depicted as “bad”. And I definitely wasn’t upset that Peter Pan was a killer-in regards to changing his character to that. But I just didn’t understand the why behind it, since that was never explained. His antics got tiring and I bored of Peter Pan unfortunately. Ohhhh I just read the synopsis to The Child Thief and 0_0. I don’t think I could handle the torture and other dark aspects – baby over here for horror stories ha. But thank you for letting me know about another retelling! 🙂

  2. Kim

    Somehow I missed this Jen. Great review! Peter Pan retellings have been so disappointing. If you ever want to try another, I’d recommend Alias Hook, by Lisa Jensen. I enjoyed that one.😊
    Kim recently posted…These Shallow Graves ~ by Jennifer Donnelly – 4.0 StarsMy Profile

    • Jen

      Thank you, Kim! I know, this has been not the best year for Peter Pan retellings. Thank you!! I just added it to my Amazon Purchase List! 🙂

  3. Alicia

    I just only now found this book at my local what used to be Hastings store where I live. Its hard to put what part about the book that caught my attention. But the whole time i read it seeing the back story of how James became Captain Hook was so intense o.o like i couldn’t take my eyes off the pages I felt like I was part of the story every page paragraph all of it was so in emphasizing and enveloping. I couldnt look away and stop reading the more I read the more I came to gather why James loathed Pan. He took everything from him the part that hit me the most was that he could’ve had a life with Tiger Lily and Pan ruined it all. Ugh!! -__- it was so frustrating but it saddens me what happens to James the book ended up making me cry even though I knew that ending was coming

    • Jen

      You are SO making me want to re-read this book LOL! Cause RIGHT?! I totally got why James loathed Pan, I was right there with him every step of the way! And I wish that it would have ended differently too, but alas that’s what makes James the way he is right *cries*. Thank you for making all of the feelings from this book come back to the surface for me *hugs* and if you ever find a Peter Pan retelling that you love please let me know. 🙂

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