Monday, May 12, 2014

Second Star by Alyssa B. Sheinmel

Second Star by Alyssa B. Sheinmel
Available May 13th
Farrar, Straus and Giroux (BYR)
Hardcover 248 pages
Review e-ARC from publisher
Contemporary YA/ Magical Realism ???
To buy links- Amazon/ Kindle/ BN/ Book Depository/
Indiebound/ Kobo

GoodreadsA 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.


REVIEW

I like Alyssa Sheinmel's writing. There is just a little bit of magic in it that makes you question what you're reading. Is it real, imagined, somewhere in between. The beach setting, with white sands, "flour soft" and the waves, clear and glassy, hollow, perfect. Descriptions are so beautifully written, I could feel myself transported to the beach, a place I already feel has a special healing magic to it. With that and the reference to it being a reworking of Peter Pan I felt a special kind of surrealism reading the novel. 

The beginning of the novel tells us of the tragic truth that Wendy's brothers, Michael and John, 16 yr old twins, are lost. They ran away, maybe for a few days, maybe for longer, to surf and never returned. That was September. It is now graduation day and Wendy has not seen them. There is an emptiness beside her, inside her, in her home. She just can't accept they are gone. Her best friend Fiona is worried about this fact, but her parents are still wrapped in their own grief and don't even notice.

But here was the problem, I spent so much time trying to compare the book to Peter Pan, I couldn't enjoy the book as much as I might have. The middle became so muddled to me, especially the love triangle. Yes, it's Peter Pan and you know the love triangle in that. I didn't like how that turned out. Or did it? I don't know if the narrator, Wendy is unreliable.  I wouldn't exactly call it "an irresistible summer romance" as it says in the description. There is a heavy dark tone of sadness with the hunt for her brothers. And there is the drug dealer Jas who gets kids hooked on "fairy dust".  That just doesn't fit into a summer romance for me.

I got lost in the end. What was real, what was a dream, what was a nightmare. What really happened? That ending......that's what the ending was like.  The book was dreamy and magical, but when it comes back to reality, there are absolutely no clues to help readers know what to believe. In the end, I guess it's up to us to decide what to believe. For me, I like a solid definite ending. This one doesn't have one for me.

Maybe I just wanted a little more clarity. Maybe Wendy did too. I didn't understand. Neither did Wendy. So in the end, I was of the same mind set as Wendy. However, I didn't like the guy I think Wendy would choose, it made no sense to me. And I am not really sure what Wendy believed at the end.

Would I read another book with these same characters? Yes, I'd love some more closure. I'd love some more of the surf scene and the dream like quality of Wendy's time with Pete, Belle and the boys. And I'd like a definite ending.

I think Second Star just kind of misses the mark somehow. I enjoyed reading it. I kept wanting to and made time to read it. But I felt unsatisfied when I finished. Somewhere in the middle it veered off course and just never made it's way back to the story it started out to be. But that doesn't mean everyone will feel that way. Give it a chance if you're game. Alyssa Sheinmel knows how to write. This one was like two puzzles mixed together, the pieces don't fit because they come from two separate stories/puzzles.

Thanks to the publishers for a copy of the e-ARC for review. I was not compensated for this review. All opinions expressed in this review are my own.

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23 comments:

  1. I felt exactly like you at the end - completely lost on reality. And yes I also need a solid closure, and here I even had no idea if it was all real or not too much guess work at the end. I was sadly highly disappointed with this book!

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    1. Yeah, the lines were definitely blurred quite a bit. And it was confusing. I understand how you feel.

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  2. "For me, I like a solid definite ending. This one doesn't have one for me."

    I'm the same way Heather! I don't mind a dreamy, magical story where the line between reality and illusion is blurred, but in the end, I want concrete answers as to exactly what happened and where I can expect the characters to go in the future even if I won't be with them. I'm a greedy reader like that ;-) This one has been getting pretty mixed reviews, so I'm going to pass on it I think!

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    1. Yeah, I really like a definite ending. I don't know if you'd be able to decipher this one better than me. Probably, lol.

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  3. This one seems really frustrating, Heather! I don't mind wondering what's real or not but I would like a line drawn somewhere. Although the cover looks pretty, I don't think this one is for me and I'm going to take a pass. Thanks for sharing your thoughts!

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    1. Maybe someone smarter than me or more focused can see the lines better, but I just couldn't see them. It was not a summer romance!

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  4. I think everyone is feeling the same way. I loved the retelling and the spin and the writing, but I hated the end. WTF?

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    1. Exactly! I saw your review and said, "Yep, what she said."

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  5. Hm... I'm not sure this one is for me. I do need my clarity. I mean I know there are books where you can leave the edges all fuzzy, but those are very rare. No, I usually like a solid ending. Great review!

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    1. This one had the lines very blurry. You weren't sure if she dreamed the whole thing or if it really happened and it was frustrating. And then the ending was like WHAT???

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  6. The hint of magic and questioning is a great element, but sorry to hear that it just overall wasn't all it could be

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    1. Like I said at the end, others may like it. Someone commented on my review on GR that even though they didn't like the ending they still enjoyed the novel. So you never know....

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  7. I've been seeing so many reviews like this, readers wanting to love it and it just not working for them. It sucks because this sounds like such a cool story. I think I want to read the original Peter Pan now. I never have, just watched Hook and the Disney version and the 2003 film. Loved them all.

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    1. I think I'd like to interview the author and ask her to explain it to me. I'd love to know where she was going with it. Or what her intentions really were. I'm sure some people got it. Just not me. Yes, I want to read the real Peter Pan now too.

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  8. I had an ARC of this one, but I struggled to get going with the book. I just couldn't reconcile with some of the author's decisions, and with Peter Pan being a favourite of mine, I didn't want to see the story get pulled to pieces, if that makes sense. I'm glad to see you stuck with it though - and that you enjoyed Ms. Sheinmel's writing :)

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    1. I really like The Beautiful Between, her first novel. It was this same type of writing. But it only really loosely followed Peter Pan.
      It was more the names than anything. I was surprised there wasn't a Hook.

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  9. I have a feeling I'd have the same problem as you with this novel, Heather. I'd compare it to both the original and Tiger Lily, my favorite Peter Pan re-telling (of sorts), so I have a feeling I'm better off just skipping this. Thanks for such a helpful review, Heather!(:

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    1. Oh and there was no Princess Tiger Lily. I kept looking for her, trying to mold the best friend into her, but no there was no character like her, and you just can't leave her out of the story.

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  10. Hmmm.... I'm unsure if I will read this one now. It doesn't sound like something that I would 'love' either.

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    1. Your call, but it did have that dreamy feel to it. But definitely not a summer romance. I don't know who came up with that idea!

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  11. I definitely prefer things to be clear. This doesn't sound like a fun summer read either. I wasn't planning on reading this before and I'm kind of glad.

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    1. Maybe if it was longer...I just don't know. The ending left you wondering was it all real after all when so much of the book was spent convincing you it never happened. It was just confusing.

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  12. Really you didn't feel like you knew what to believe? I really enjoyed how it ended and that whole quality about it. I felt it was so fitting because I thought at the end that she knew it had all happened. But even if it didn't hey that is ok too. Sorry it wasn't better for you!

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