Review: Second Star by Alyssa B. Sheinmel

May 13, 2014 Review 0 ★★★★

Review: Second Star by Alyssa B. SheinmelSecond Star by Alyssa B. Sheinmel
Genres: Fantasy, New Adult
Published by Farrar Straus and Giroux on May 13, 2014
Pages: 248
Format: Hardcover
Source: NetGalley
Reviewed by: Libbie
4 Stars

Sexual content

References to sex and sexual situations

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.
Prior to reading SECOND STAR, my only knowledge of Peter Pan came from movies - the Disney animated version and the later live-action one called Hook, so I won’t be focusing on canon comparisons. Second challenge is spoiler avoidance and with this ending? That’s a big challenge. One thing I came away from SECOND STAR with is a deep nostalgia for my own teen years. I grew up on beaches much like those referenced in the story. There's something so beautiful about the sport and I've watched enough surfers from Southern California to Virginia Beach to Hawaii's North Shore to know that the author either surfs herself or really did her research. The descriptions of both the art of surfing and the people who live their lives with no more on their horizon than chasing the next big swell are spot on. Because of the aforementioned spoiler issues, talking plot isn't an easy thing, but I will say that the story is engaging. This is one of those times where the story being told in first person, present tense is really the only way the author could have gone and it makes the story flow by quickly and had me stealth-reading at work (shhhh, don't tell.) This was especially true as SECOND STAR took a dramatic plot turn and left me with my jaw hanging open. I'm even now feeling the need to go back, reread a few sections, and try to see if I missed anything along the way. The best way I’ve seen the ending described is “mind-fuck” and it totally is. Another bonus point for SECOND STAR, and a detraction to some, is that none of the characters are perfect, not at the beginning, middle, or end. They're all flawed in their own ways and, refreshingly, make no bones about it. Their flaws are there, they're even commented on and tension-causing, but there's no "I shall redeem you" vibe. Wendy, Pete, Jas, even Belle - no one is out to change anyone, they just try to find ways to adapt to who, and what, they are. They make stupid choices, yes, but those choices are in character. To me, that made them all the more real. I might have wanted to throttle Wendy a few times, but that didn't keep me from enjoying her as a character. Same with Pete and Jas - two young men who, in keeping with the theme, haven't grown up. Even if they can't fly, and neither has a hook for a hand. The book is, by all accounts, a standalone, but I can't help myself from desperately hoping that there will one day be a sequel.

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