Title: Lost in the Never Woods
Author: Aiden Thomas
Publisher: Swoon Reads
Audience: Young Adult
When children go missing in the small coastal town of Astoria, people look to Wendy for answers.
It’s been five years since Wendy and her two brothers went missing in the woods, but when the town’s children start to disappear, the questions surrounding her brothers’ mysterious circumstances are brought back into light. Attempting to flee her past, Wendy almost runs over an unconscious boy lying in the middle of the road, and gets pulled into the mystery haunting the town.
Peter, a boy she thought lived only in her stories, claims that if they don’t do something, the missing children will meet the same fate as her brothers. In order to find them and rescue the missing kids, Wendy must confront what’s waiting for her in the woods.
I wanted so desperately to love Lost in the Never Woods because I loved Aiden Thomas’s debut novel, and I was so excited for it, especially as Peter Pan means so much to me due to the hospital I spent some time in as a child. Sadly while I liked the interpretation of the characters and the plot, I just felt as if something was missing for me to love it.
I loved Aiden Thomas’s interpretation of both Peter and Wendy and felt that they really brought them to life in a modern setting. Peter had that joyful youthfulness that you come to expect with Peter Pan, but it also felt as if there was a depth to the character and his decisions which I appreciated. I loved Wendy and the maturity that Aiden Thomas had put into her character; you could see hints to the original tale, but she is a lot more headstrong and independent. While I didn’t appreciate the development in their romantic relationship, I can see its purpose, but it just felt forced to me; I thought they were much better as friends without the need for anything else. The only thing I would have changed about the characters is that I would have loved to have seen some more of Jordan, Wendy’s best friend, as it did start to feel as if she was only there to progress the plot along without having any real impact.
When it comes to the plot, I really liked the reimagining and the direction that it took. It developed the story beyond just Neverland and looked at almost what happens after Neverland. It also took the story much darker, which I appreciated as it suited the story and the original stories darker undertones. The only real issue I had when it comes to the plot is that I would have loved to have seen some more of Aiden Thomas’s interpretation of Neverland, as I think that would have tied the book together a bit better.
The real issue that I had with Lost in the Never Woods was the pacing. It felt off the whole book as while I was flying through it in terms of time, it felt as if it was really dragging. This may be down to the chapter lengths as they seemed to go on forever, so I think the book may have benefited with more chapter breaks. Unfortunately, the chapters also broke in strange places, which didn’t help me get back into the story once I got back to reading it after putting it down for a while.
I am still interested in what Aiden Thomas will write next as while I did not love Lost in the Never Woods, I still loved their imagining of characters, which is one of my favourite parts of both of their books. If you like slow-moving, low fantasy, I would still suggest picking up Lost in the Never Woods, as while it was not completely my style, I can see how others love it.