Second Star by Alyssa B. Scheinmel
Publisher: Farrar, Straus and Giroux
Length: 248 pages
Subjects: Romance, Retelling, Surfing, Peter Pan
How I obtained the book: Netgalley, eARC
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 Pete’s 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 a classic, Second Star is an irresistible summer romance about two young men who have yet to grow up–and the troubled beauty trapped between them.
I’m not entirely sure where I stand with this book. I somewhat enjoyed reading it, yet it was incredibly problematic. I know that it kind of sounds silly for me to say this about a Peter Pan retelling of all things but I couldn’t believe any of the event at all. It was so unrealistic, and not even in an intentional way. It was just a poorly constructed story.
Second Star runs on cliches and tropes. Wendy is the straight laced, straight A, good girl who probably hasn’t even thought about doing anything bad in her life. Peter is, well, a less likable version of the fairy tale Peter. He’s a maniac pixie dream boy. Jax is the quintessential bad boy who deals drugs to kids and is an all around awful person.
There’s a love triangle and a case of missing adult syndrome. Not to mention, an even worse case of missing police syndrome. There’s a bunch of kids who go and rob mansions all the time – where are the police? Are they being paid off?
The love triangle was incredibly abusive. Pete is a trainwreck and definitely not a healthy partner. He was impulsive and manipulative. Jax was something entirely else. He runs the rival ‘gang’ of kids – all of them drug addicts. He supplies kids ranging from middle school to past high school with terrible drugs. There’s a difference between ‘bad boy chic’ and a drug dealer.
The plot is unremarkable for the most part. It’s cliched and unoriginal. Subconsciously, I feel like while reading, I’d been comparing Second Star to Tiger Lily, one of my all time favourites and another Peter Pan retelling. When you compare those two books, Second Star doesn’t even come close to Tiger Lily in terms of the depth of the characters and story.
Yet, with all these flaws, there was just something about the book that was irresistible. The atmosphere was ethereal, mostly due to Sheinmel’s gorgeous writing. It’s really the only thing carrying the book. I think I’d suffer through another bad book for their writing.
Second Star is nothing remarkable. It’s heavily flawed and there isn’t really anything worth reading. I’d skip this one and try Tiger Lily instead (even if it has little to do with Wendy herself).