Title: SECOND STAR by Alyssa B. Sheinmel
Pub Date: May 13, 2014
ARC received from Macmillan Children's Publishing Group in exchange for an honest review.
Dannie says: I'm already wishing for a sequel!
A twisty story about love, loss, and lies, this contemporary oceanside adventure is tinged with a touch of dark magic as it follows seventeen-year-old Wendy Darling on a search for her missing surfer brothers. Wendy’s journey leads her to a mysterious hidden cove inhabited by a tribe of young renegade surfers, most of them runaways like her brothers. Wendy is instantly drawn to the cove’s charismatic leader, Pete, but her search also points her toward his nemesis, the drug-dealing Jas. Enigmatic, dangerous, and handsome, Jas pulls Wendy in even as she's falling hard for Pete. A radical reinvention of J. M. Barrie's classic tale, Second Star is an irresistible summer romance about two young men who have yet to grow up—and the troubled beauty trapped between them.
WHAT I LIKED
The overall story arc and plot. It's a like not a love because, for me, while the first half of the book had fantastic, gripping pace, the latter half, maybe last third, felt rushed. Part of that is that I was reading at top speed, dying to know what was going to happen next. But in terms of plot points it felt a little bottom heavy for me. That said, the plot is fantastic and I read the book from start to finish in one sitting, forgoing sleep because I was so invested in the story.
The characters and relationships. Related to the point above, I felt like we got great insights and time with Pete, but not so much with Jas. I felt like he needed to be more villainous, or at least we needed to see his villainous side played out on the page a little more clearly. I think maybe the author fell for Jas as she was creating him and sort of softballed him as a result. And surely part of that was to emphasize the love triangle aspect, but for me it made him feel less three-dimensional than Pete. I wanted the author to take his relationship with Wendy further, to spend more time building their bond. Without revealing too much, I left the love triangle aspect of the story not knowing who I was rooting for, and I'm a pretty effing opinionated person when it comes to love triangles. It's the reason I avoid writing them in my own stories. I didn't know who I thought was a better fit for Wendy, not because I loved them both equally but because I didn't get to love either of them enough.
WHAT I LOVED
First thing's first--yay contemporary retellings! I loved the way the author incorporated and stayed true to the original Barrie fairytale while setting the book firmly in the modern real world. I think she did an excellent job in that respect. Her concept grabbed me immediately and I felt like she did an amazing job of following through on what her book blurb promised.
The setting. I'm not a beach book gal by any stretch of the imagination. But I felt really pulled into the setting and the world that she created, despite my original misgivings that pink, beachy books are not for me. She contrasted that enough with real world grit that I got invested quickly and stayed *hooked* throughout. ;)
The MC. I like that Wendy is that catalyst for the story. Yes, there are strong male figures in the story and yes they definitely impact the plot, but this is Wendy's story and she's a strong female MC without being overtly feminist or unfeminine. I really enjoyed reading her story and I was rooting for her from start to finish.
WHAT I WANTED MORE OF
More resolution in the ending--in looking on Goodreads, it doesn't appear this is a series. Boo. That said, the ending doesn't feel neat enough for me for a standalone. I wanted something more concrete. So ironic, because I'm the queen of unresolved open and grey endings. But there it is.
A nitpicky note, but I wanted Jas to be more Hook-like. I was hoping he would have some sort of disability the way Hook does (it would be easy, given the hazards of surfing), or at least something symbolic of the hook. If there was such a thing I missed it, but I definitely found myself looking for it when Jas was introduced and throughout the read.
These are picky, purely opinion things, though. And they won't stop me from re-reading this one.
Short story long, I can't say enough about this story. The only negative I have was that it wasn't long enough--that I wanted to keep reading even after I ran out of pages. I really hope there is a sequel planned they haven't revealed yet. Maybe I'll have to wish upon a star to make it happen, eh?
Buy links below. If you like retellings or beach reads or good YA in general, pick this one up.