Never After Dan Elconin
16-year-old Ricky Darlin is sick of his life. He'd much rather be spending his time on the mysterious tropical paradise he keeps dreaming about: "The Island". So when a teenager named Peter shows up at his window one night and offers to fly him there, Ricky jumps at the chance to leave everything behind.
Once they get to the Island, however, things don't go as planned. It turns out Peter's not nearly as nice as he pretends to be. And while the Island is certainly beautiful, it's also full of dangers, one of which is Peter himself. Ricky is rescued by a ragtag group of boys (and one girl) led by the slightly insane James Hooke, who the group refers to as "Captain". No one seems to know what Peter's motives are, but unfortunately he's the only way to get off the Island and back home. And Peter's zombie-like Lost Boys aren't going to make capturing Peter easy.
I would personally call this more of a re-imagining of Peter Pan than a retelling. The reason being that some things have the same names, but so many things are different that if you didn't know the story of Peter Pan and you no one told you it was based on Peter Pan, you'd probably think you'd picked up a great adventure story.
And the book is full of plenty of adventure. The other great thing are the characters. Ricky and his friends act exactly like the people I knew in high school, and they have a gritty realness about them that adds dimension to the story. Dan Elconin has also mastered the art of the suspenseful chapter ending, which gives the story pull and makes it move along at a fairly quick pace.
Now, I think I have to mention at this point that I didn't finish the book. While I can see a lot of merit here, there were a few things that bothered me. Namely the profanity, which is quite prevalent. These characters act like teenager with all the swearing and behavior that you would expect from teens dealing with dysfunctional homes. So I understand why it's there. But that is something personally that I don't enjoy reading. Once I found myself scanning the pages rather than fully reading them I put the book down. I was more 100 pages in by that point, so I think I have a pretty good handle on the book without knowing how it ends. The profanity certainly won't bother some readers, and that's great, but I would not be writing an honest review if I didn't mention it. Because honestly, I would have finished the book if it hadn't been for that.
So not my sort of thing, but I can see how other people would love this book. Because of the profanity issue and some of the other things the characters discuss, I definitely wouldn't give this to say a 12-year-old. But older teens (especially ones who love adventure books) will probably enjoy this. For those readers who are desperately searching for a strong male protagonist in YA lit, this would certainly be a good choice.