Thursday, July 14, 2016

"The Neverland Wars" (ARC Review)

My rating: ★★★★☆

Author: Audrey Greathouse

Series: Book #1 (The Neverland Wars series)

Genre: Retelling, Fantasy, Young Adult

Page Count: 302 (paperback)

Release Date: June 6th, 2016

PublisherClean Teen Publishing

Places to order:
Barnes & Noble
Book Depository

Meet Audrey:
Audrey Greathouse is a lost child in a perpetual and footloose quest for her own post-adolescent Neverland. Originally from Seattle, she earned her English B.A. from Southern New Hampshire University's online program while backpacking around the west coast and pretending to be a student at Stanford. A pianist, circus artist, fire-eater, street mime, swing dancer, and novelist, Audrey wears many hats wherever she is. She has grand hopes for the future which include publishing more books and owning a crockpot.

Magic can do a lot―give you flight, show you mermaids, help you taste the stars, and… solve the budget crisis? That's what the grown-ups will do with it if they ever make it to Neverland to steal its magic and bring their children home.
However, Gwen doesn't know this. She's just a sixteen-year-old girl with a place on the debate team and a powerful crush on Jay, the soon-to-be homecoming king. She doesn't know her little sister could actually run away with Peter Pan, or that she might have to chase after her to bring her home safe. Gwen will find out though―and when she does, she'll discover she's in the middle of a looming war between Neverland and reality.
She'll be out of place as a teenager in Neverland, but she won't be the only one. Peter Pan's constant treks back to the mainland have slowly aged him into adolescence as well. Soon, Gwen will have to decide whether she's going to join impish, playful Peter in his fight for eternal youth… or if she's going to scramble back to reality in time for the homecoming dance.

My review:

Thank you Audrey for sending an e-ARC copy of your wonderful book in exchange for an honest review! This book definitely satisfied the child in me as well as the young adult in me too!


I really enjoyed this book! Truthfully, I've never read Peter Pan, but I did grow up watching Walt Disney's Peter Pan, Hook (1991), and Peter Pan (2003) many times as a kid up until now. Since these three movies are considered remakes (or what I like to call retellings on film), I think "The Neverland Wars" did a good job of separating itself by having a unique plot and changing the focus on certain aspects of the classical tale to make it it's own story, rather than pulling out the big plot points of the Disney's Peter Pan (forgive me, it's the only thing I can compare/reference it to) and making a few small changes and say it's good to go.

The Neverland Wars is a wonderful, young adult retelling of the classic Peter Pan story that follows a teenage girl named Gwen, who travels to Neverland to keep an eye her younger sister Rosemary (who ran away with Peter Pan to Neverland in the beginning of the story), and her adventures all over this strange, fantastical world while a war wages between the real world and Neverland. As Gwen starts to get drawn into Neverland, her internal struggles about what the right thing to do is proceeds throughout the course of her journey as she deals with the ultimate decision: to go back to the real world and grow up or stay young forever in Neverland.

If you are unfamiliar with the original Peter Pan story that this book is based on/a retelling of, I recommend that you look it up or watch the Disney movie version of Peter Pan because explaining it here will take up a lot of space and I want to focus on TNW. 

I'll start with some problems I had with this book then save the stuff I really liked about this book for the end! 


1.) (minor) The beginning is pretty slow--To be fair, I understand that as a retelling, the book kind of had to start slow to warm the readers up to Gwen and her younger sister Rosemary as well as the setting the story/timeline, but I was hoping that the book would jump right into some action followed by some more action (but it could also just be me, asking for too much).

2.) Not as much action as I was hoping for--I mean there was that one scenario on the ship that scared the crap out of me (because I was quietly reading in the dark...), but other than that, there weren't many scenes where my palms were sweating or my heart was racing. 

3.) Wording of the stories sounded a tiny bit complex for children--Whenever Gwen told the Lost Brigade (basically Lost Children since there are boys AND girls) a story, I thought Gwen could have told the stories in a simpler, exciting manner since as children, it's fun to tell stories dramatically and colorfully so that they can have a clear image of your story and be fully engrossed in it. But the way Gwen spoke sounded more like a fit for children between the ages of 12+years old and not to children younger than that. From the book, the oldest girl is no older than 12 years old, but then again, she wasn't raised in the real world (I assume) so I'm also assuming that she hasn't finished her schooling during which children begin to learn more proper writing, speaking, and reading. I, by no means, am not saying that Gwen's storytelling wasn't good! In fact, it was really well done, but it seemed a bit too well done for the children from Neverland, who haven't been to the "real world" much to go to school and learn proper vocabulary and whatnot there. But I could also be completely wrong and not be making any sense to those of you who have read this book already, so I apologize if you don't understand how my brain works when it comes to these things *insert nervous laughing emoji*

4.) Not much war going on--One of the things that caught my attention when I looked up this book here on Goodreads was the title "The Neverland Wars," because it initially sounded like I would be a more intense, action driven read with lots of action-packed scenes or heart pounding scenarios because of this war that's happening in Neverland, judging from the title. But I felt there wasn't enough about the war. As the reader, you do learn about what war is happening and why it's happening, but there isn't much else. The book has a scene that shows the effect of war on Neverland, but after that, there isn't much about the opposing sides meeting and battling or fighting or disputing. It feels more like that backside of the story and seemed to focus more on Gwen's adventures and all the things she's learning while in Neverland rather than having more of the focus on what's happening on both sides of the war or if we, as the readers, get to see any both parties in one scene together fighting each other.

POSITIVES:1.) Love the originality of this retelling--The main character that this book follows is Gwen, a teenage girl who is dealing with the typical teenage girl problems: high school, prom, boys, and drama.But when she goes to Neverland, she's almost relearning how to be a kid again while having the midst of a teenage girl. 

2.) Very minimal romance--As the reader, you start off by being introduced to Gwen's life in the "real world" where she has a guy that she likes, which didn't bother me at all. And when she gets to Neverland and meets Peter, I am SO GLAD that there wasn't any insta-love or immediate romantic feelings she might be having for him and vice versa. If there is a sequel, I don't think I would mind Gwen and Peter falling in love, since Peter is aged up.

3.) As much as I like Captain Hook and Tinkerbell, I'm so glad they weren't in TNW--There are pirates and fairies in TNW, but there aren't specific characters that are an exact reinterpretation of those iconic characters from the original story, which is something I really appreciate that shows more originality. I enjoyed how there wasn't a "Captain Hook" in this book to be the main antagonist to Peter and how the book changed the antagonist to adults in the "real world." 

4.) YAASSS for mermaids!--So glad that this book had a lot of focus on mermaids instead of pirates, because Audrey did a great job of tying in their importance and how they have an impact on the plot and on Gwen especially. I love Gwen's interaction with them and her curiosity because as the reader, you're also curious about these mermaids, especially if you've watched different Peter Pan movies that don't really have too much of a focus on mermaids.

5.) The maturity--Because the story of Peter Pan typically has a much younger audience (due to the widely known Disney version of Peter Pan), the amount of maturity I've seen in movies based off of Peter Pan don't really branch out. What I mean by this is that we don't see a lot of internal character development from the main protagonist in the various Peter Pan movies (maybe in "Hook"), but with TNW, we get to see Gwen's development and internal struggles as a teenage girl in a world where people don't age.



Alright, for those of you who have read this book already (or just like reading spoilers for the fun of it), can we talk about how happy I am that there wasn't a "Captain Hook" in this book aka being the main antagonist?! *happy dances* YAS this is what I like about this retelling because sometimes books that are retellings either nails it in terms of originality but others can totally miss the mark and seem like a replica of the original tale or story. 

Again, I was hoping for more action. But I did get scared when that crocodile popped out of nowhere from the bottom of the abandoned pirate ship! Maybe if (referring to the scene where Lasiandra took Gwen underwater) there was a huge ass shark that tried to eat Gwen, that would have been a fun, heart racing scene similar to the crocodile scene. Or if there was a scene where the adults actually invaded Neverland and started wrecking the place/looked to capture Peter (but hey, that could all be in the sequel if there is one!)

Speaking of MERMAIDS, I looooved how Audrey wrote a solid portion of the book to focus on the importance of mermaids and how they live and what they can do! It was fun to read about how much they like land fruit because it makes sense that they love land fruit since they live in the water! It was also cool to read about how mermaids are like star readers/fortune tellers! When Gwen had to strip down because she didn't want to get her clothes soaking wet, Gwen had an appropriate, reasonable level of maturity for a teenage girl in that scenario. I think it's important to readers to look at that scene and get a feel for how Gwen was in that situation and how she--despite being in a land where children never grow up--acted in a grown-up, mature way that gave the book a nice touch. *claps* Well done, Audrey!

If you think about the original story of Peter Pan (or in my case, the Disney movie version), there are Native Americans in the book, and I think Audrey made a pretty good message about race and being mindful of what one calls others. In TNW, Gwen grew up being taught that calling Native Americans "redskins" was offense and racists, but when she gets to Neverland, Peter takes her to meet the "Redskins," which makes her uncomfortable and hesitant. It's totally reasonable in this day and age that people are trying to be considerate other peoples' race and what language is appropriate or not--which also circles back to maturity (which is one of the many things I appreciated in this book!). At first, Gwen was super uncomfortable and embarrassed because she thought that calling the Redskins "redskins" was offensive, but in Neverland, who's to say that calling the Redskins "Native Americans" is offensive in their magical land? But the Redskins didn't mind that Gwen was confused and trying to be considerate of them because they understand that they come from two different worlds where they were taught different things.

Ok, I don't know about you guys, but I loved the fairies in this book. Again, very very happy that there wasn't a "Tinkerbell" in this book and that there were 3 main fairies that we got to meet and love. Hollyhock, Bramble, and Dillyweed. OMG MY HEART WHEN BRAMBLE DIED UGHHH. But I loved the scene where Gwen followed Peter to the fairies home and got to say goodbye to Bramble. ALSO, I think it was super neat of Audrey to make the popular quote, "I do believe in fairies," mean goodbye, in a sense, instead of having that saying somehow bring Bramble back from the dead--it made the saying feel more meaningful and close to the heart. 


I really do hope that there is a sequel because the book ended in a way where you just sit there and go "wait, what just happened?" kind of feeling. If there is a sequel, I would looove to see more action scenes about the war itself since The Neverland Wars mostly shows the author's interpretation of Neverland and getting the readers to understand how this land works n Gwen's POV (instead of thinking about the typical, original Neverland that one might think of). 

All in all, I do recommend that people should read this book because it is a unique take on the classic story of Peter Pan and it would be awesome to support Audrey because if people read her books and like them + review them, then maayyybbeee she'll write a sequel? * crosses fingers* because despite my problems with it, I enjoyed the book and loved how different it was!

EDIT: omg Audrey told me that there IS going to be a sequel THANK YOU SWEET LORD AND AUDREY AND CLEAN READS PUBLISHING! *throws confetti*

Happy reading everyone!
Whitney Lauren


  1. I haven't read a retelling of Peter Pan yet so I guess I need to remedy that and start with this book. Minimal romance? Heck yeah. I'll definitely read this one!

    Alyssa @ Diary of a Book Maniac

  2. I haven't heard of this one. There are so many Peter Pan retellings out there. I loooved Never Never by Brianna Shrum.

    I'm glad you overall enjoyed this but I'm not sure it's for me. Not gonna lie, I want romance in my books.LOL. Great review!