Book Review: Never Never by Brianna R. Shrum [Audiobook]

Thirteen-year-old James Hook agrees to go to Neverland with the enchanting and odd Peter Pan on the grounds that he'll be able to come back home, only to find once he's there that he's stuck there forever. When he grows too old to be a Lost Boy anymore, he joins his pirate crew and becomes the fiercest captain on the seas.

Book Review: Never Never by Brianna R. Shrum
Title: Never Never
Pages: 368
My Rating: 3.5 Stars
More Info: Goodreads, Amazon, Publisher


I have mixed feelings about this book. On the one hand, this was the second Peter Pan retelling I’ve read that focuses on Captain Hook, and it was exactly the kind I’ve always wanted, one that is based on the book rather than the Disney movie and that doesn’t ignore the dark, terrifying aspects of Peter. On the other hand, I just wasn’t able to feel invested in this story. It never, well, hooked me. (Pun absolutely intended.)

I liked all the nods to Peter’s darkness from the original (murder, starving his boys, not understanding the difference between real and make-believe, etc.), the idea of the pirates being there because they were James’s childhood dreams, and the explanations for things (how James got there, why he hated Peter).

I also liked that the author showed us not just the origin/backstory of how James/Hook came to be a pirate in Neverland, but also what his life was like after he joined the pirate crew. That was where the story had some overlap with the original novel, and seeing the author’s take on those events, seeing James’s side of things, was cool.

I felt awful for James and how all he really wanted the whole time was to go home. There’s a part where he meets another captain that I wasn’t expecting, and it was very touching and bittersweet. So the author did make his character one I empathized with and did manage to infuse some emotion into the story.

But, as I said, I never really got into it, and I’m not entirely sure why. I don’t know if it was my mood, the audio narration, the slow pace, or just the story itself that was the problem. I didn’t dislike it, but I kinda just wanted to be finished with it.

I also didn’t like the audio narration by Simon Vance. The narration itself was ok, but he has this particular kind of voice I don’t like, and I didn’t feel his voices for James and Tiger Lily suited them. This is obviously a very subjective thing though.

There’s also a relationship between James and Tiger Lily in this book, but that’s neither a like nor dislike. I don’t think I felt much about it either way.

Overall, this was a good Captain Hook retelling, one that creates an interesting backstory for him and follows the original story pretty closely, with a few differences. I somewhat enjoyed it, but it just didn’t leave a big impression on me.


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12 thoughts on “Book Review: Never Never by Brianna R. Shrum [Audiobook]

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  1. Greg

    Ooh cool you’re reviewing this! I just watched Peter Pan like a week ago lol. And that cover’s always been a favorite of mine since I first saw it. Bummer to hear it wasn’t super awesome- sometimes a book doesn’t entirely work and we can’t even pinpoint exactly why? I have that problem sometimes haha. Although it does sound like there are some issues with it and I imagine narration can definitely be a problem if the choice of narrator doesn’t impress.

    Also I’ve never read the original Peter Pan and I’m kind intrigued that it’s apparently way darker??

    1. Kristen Burns

      You should try the original! I’ve never actually seen the Disney movie, I don’t think, if that’s the movie you were even talking about. But yeah, it’s always weird when you can’t figure out why you didn’t like a book more.

  2. Becky @ A Fool’s Ingneuity

    Gah, so annoying, I wrote a whole comment and then lost it! Anyway, it sucks that this is another retelling for Peter pan which didn’t work for you. it’s a really cool idea to see the story from the villain’s perspective, adds something new to it and I think we all enjoy that. There is nothing more frustrating than not being able to put your finger on what went wrong with a book for you not quite enjoy it, though. I’ve had that feeling before and sometimes it’s just one of them. I can tell you could see there was some good stuff happening in the book even if it didn’t work for you.

    1. Kristen Burns

      Oh no, I’m sorry your comment was eaten 🙁 It is really frustrating when you can’t figure out why you don’t like a book more! But it does happen sometimes.

  3. Olivia Roach

    When reading the original Peter Pan I was so on Hook’s side as you know, and I will really like that this book focuses on Hook. I have read this one too and I read it a long time ago when it came out. So back then I did really like it and all of it’s darkness but I think I would share more of your opinions about it if I read it now.

    1. Kristen Burns

      I’m still so happy to know I have a Hook-loving friend out there lol. Also it seems like nobody else has read the original! I feel like there’d be more Hook fans if they did.