Wylie meets Phinn at a rooftop party the night before her brother is supposed to go to jail. He takes her flying and Wylie and her brothers end up on an island where no one ages past seventeen. As Wylie’s attraction to Phinn grows, she begins to realize the island might not be as perfect as it seems. Someone is keeping a secret and it might put her and her siblings in danger.
Oh look! Another Peter Pan retelling… That’s what I thought when I picked up this book. Since I’d just read Everland last month, I wasn’t real keen on yet another rehashing of the Neverland plot. Luckily, this one departed significantly from the mischievous boy leads a tribe of lost boys against Captain Hook story line.
Yes, there are parallels – Phinn is a reimagined Pan just as Hopper is a new Hook. Wylie and her brothers are clearly the Darling children and we still have a jealous Tinkerbell. However, the utopia/dystopia theme makes for a much darker tale.
It seems to me that author Sara Saedi has taken the essence of Peter Pan – the boy who never grows up – and put it under the microscope. The idea of never growing old appeals to the teenage characters – and perhaps some readers – but as with many promises in literature in art, it comes with a price. Saedi examines how far people are willing to go to keep their youth and to keep the island “safe.” With this examination comes considerations of democracy and dictatorship, youth and adulthood. But it doesn’t get too bogged down in this contemplation. It’s a novel, not a philosophy book.
The pace is good throughout, going fairly quickly especially once the initial explanations of the island are given. The writing is smooth and follows Wylie for the most part (there are some chapters that stay with her parents, which provide some contrast). It’s a relatively easy read, so it goes by quickly.
Never Ever is for an older audience than Everland. It’s got the usual dose of teen angst present in YA novels and discusses relationships and sex. In doing so, it opens up some interesting themes. In particular, I liked that some of Wylie’s first premonitions that something on the island isn’t right comes from recognizing the inequality between the girls and guys on the island. Wylie’s desire to fight for the ladies’ rights makes her likeable in my eyes, and mixing that with her attraction to Phinn complicates the plot, making things a bit more interesting.
The most disappointing part of this novel for me was that it is not a stand alone. I felt like things were just getting really interesting when all of a sudden I was reading the acknowledgements. But I guess that’ll drive people on to the sequel.
Final verdict: Never Ever is retelling of Peter Pan that adds new elements to the story, combining aspects of YA romance with dystopian fiction and a little bit of suspense. It’s a quick read that may appeal to those looking for a darker version of the Neverland narrative.