An eighteen-year-old anxiety-ridden Wendy Darling is still coping with the disappearance of her younger brothers, John and Michael, five years ago in the woods. Wendy was the only one who returned from the woods, and she does not remember what happened. Her parents have not been the same since then. When local children start to go missing again, the town of Astoria is put on high alert. Wendy’s tension grows more when a boy she finds in the woods says he is the Peter Pan of her childhood stories. He needs her help finding his shadow and the missing children. Wendy decides to help this so-called Peter Pan, as he might be the key to her memories and finding her lost brothers.
I want to start by saying that I finished reading Lost in the Never Woods two days ago, and I am still not over it. It is a dark and heartbreaking fan-fiction retelling of the famous Peter Pan and Wendy (1911) by J.M. Barrie, taking place in Astoria, Oregon. My favorite Disney movie is Peter Pan, and my first crush with a fantasy character was with Peter Pan, so I had to read this story. I did, and it is just … intense. I rarely feel like this about a story. The last one that made me feel a bit like this was The Gravity of Birds by Tracy Guzeman.
Have a tissue box at hand because you are going to cry. Aiden Thomas’ Peter Pan version is about having to grow up fast after experiencing a traumatic event. It is about loss, grief, anxiety disorders, sad family life, secrets, and all-consuming pain. The dense, dark woods are the proper setting for this novel. Thomas’ imagery of shadows is raw and feels too real for those who have experienced depression, anxiety, and PTSD. Love and warmth are part of the story, too. Wendy has to remember that the only way out of the shadows is through the light.
The book, however, has some minor issues. The middle of the story gets repetitive at times. I expected Jordan, Wendy’s Hispanic best friend, to have more time on the pages. Either way, I loved this dark retelling, and I want Thomas to write a sequel.