Second Star by Alyssa B. Sheinmel: Great Concepts, But With One-Dimensional Characters. Definitely Not For MG Readers

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.

Description taken from Goodreads.

I so enjoy instalove. Don’t you?

I have learned to live with love triangles. As long as they’re well thought-out, satisfactory, clever love triangles. I have not learned to like instalove. This book has both a bad love triangle and instalove. What really tore me apart though was the lack of a plot because of that love triangle and the characters themselves. Not only were they all one-dimensional, the ones I did feel like I could get to know were annoying and hard to like. *cough* Wendy *cough*.

"I'm so focused on Nan that, at first, I don't notice that Pete is pulling hismelf up onto the board behind me. He lies on top of me, his chin settling in the small of my back, sending a pleasant shiver up my spine. 
"What are you doing?" I ask, but I don't mind how close he is. I feel warm.

I wanted to like this book. I really did. I enjoyed the beginning, getting to know Wendy and her feelings towards her brother. I thought it was somewhat coincidental that Wendy went after her brothers because she felt like they were still alive. I can understand her anguish, I can understand her grief and wanting them back and trying to go after them–but going to look for them and then ditching her friends and following a mysterious boy into a part of beach she doesn’t know just because she feels something didn’t seem realistic to me.

Then of course she meets “Pete” and right away the reaction is to let him into her life and everything about her. Because of course that’s the logical thing to do.

Wendy was annoying, to say the least. I hated the way she brushed off her friends and family, throwing away all caution and rationality in the attempt to see Pete once more and find her brothers. Oh yeah, and we all remember the ending of Peter Pan. WENDY GOES HOME. Why goes she go home, even when Peter begs her to stay? Because she misses her family. Nana. She feels the boys don’t belong in Neverland, and that she doesn’t belong either. No matter what. She knows she needs to go, and part of that is her sheer compassion for other people.

And then there’s Wendy from SS.

No they don’t.

I feel like Sheinmel really lost the essence of what Peter Pan was, and is to this day. The bittersweet story of a boy lost in his own fantasy world and a girl who saw his dreams, but knew they weren’t for her. In this story, Wendy lies to her parents to go and spend some time “alone with her thoughts”. She even brings her best friend into it. Somehow, she gets lost and ends up on Jas’s driveway. Guess who that is?

Again with losing the character essence.

Overall, I wish that this story was much better executed. I wanted a lot more from SECOND STAR. As with a lot of retellings, I wanted the immediate connection to be a little bit more drawn out. There are a lot of thematic elements of drugs, swearing and romance is a main role in the plot, Jas (Hook) played off as some sort of drug dealer.  Of Fairy Dust, of course. *sigh*. While I did like a lot of elements to SECOND STAR and it did have it’s own poetic moments with me, I really missed a lot of what the characters were supposed to mean here and I really wished that it was something more. Not only was Wendy different from her original self, Pete wasn’t really the fun-loving carefree flyer. He was more serious and rational. If you’re looking for a great fairy tail retelling for middle grade fiction, you might want to try Jackson Pearce’s AS YOU WISH. 2 stars.

pg count for the hardback: 256

Quotes were taken from an uncorrected proof, subject to change in the final edition.


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