Thursday, May 15, 2014

ARC Review: Second Star by Alyssa Sheinmel

Title: Second Star
Author: Alyssa B. Sheinmel
Published: May 13, 2014 by Macmillain

Synopsis: 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 his nemesis, the drug-dealing Jas. Enigmatic, dangerous, and handsome, Jas pulls Wendy in even as she is falling hard for Pete. 

A radical reinvention of J.M. Barrie’s classic tale, Second Star is an irresistible summer romance about two young men who have yet to grow up – and the troubled beauty trapped between them.

*** I received an eARC from the publisher via NetGalley for an honest view in return. This has not affected my opinion***

I was pretty excited to read this Peter Pan retelling. The surfer theme felt like the perfect summer read and the synopsis sounded really fantastic. Unfortunately the book just didn't quite resonate me.

Everything started out really good. The author set the tone for a mysterious adventure and the world of the surfers was interesting and lighthearted which was a nice balance to the heavier moments of Wendy’s life. The world of the surfers was really engaging and the imagery or the ocean and waves made me miss living close to the beach. Sheinmel did a great job of immersing you in the world of surf culture. The best part of the book, without a doubt, was the retelling aspects. I’m not intimately familiar with the story of Peter Pan but I found myself completely entertained by the creative and interesting way that Sheinmel played with familiar aspects of the story like Peter Pan climbing through the window, fairy dust, thinking happy thoughts so you could fly, and even the characters themselves.

But while the characters were creative plays on the familiar ones from Peter Pan they were not at all likable, and for that was part of how this book fell flat. I can usual get over an unlikable character if I can understand their motivation and can empathize with them. However in Second Star I didn’t quite get that. I just couldn’t find any redeeming qualities for many of the characters. All but a few came off as jerks, idiots, or both. Even our narrator came off as impulsive and almost idiotic at times. She often found herself in hot water from her reckless behavior and after awhile it just became too much to take.  My other problem I think, is that were no real character arcs. There was the opportunity for many characters to learn from the error of their ways but they kept making the same mistakes over and over again, it got repetitive.

But even more repetitive was the romance of the book, making it one more aspect of the book that fell flat for me. For a lot of people this was their main frustration about the book, but I honestly didn't mind it as much. The romance in Second Star was the dreaded insta-love triangle. There was even a moment in the book when Wendy points out how absurd it was for her to so quickly fall in love with two guys, but her recognizing the situation didn’t make it any better or change her behavior (see what I mean about not learning from your mistakes). Wendy didn’t seem very picky where her heart was concerned. For me when romance seemed imminent I chose the one character that I thought had redeeming qualities, but this is the first time I have ever read a book where I would say that I shipped the ship in but I didn’t feel the warm and fuzzy swoons. I'm not sure what it was but I wasn't emotionally invested in the romance.

But then I wasn't emotionally invested in a lot of what happened in this book. When the final mystery and twist was revealed it should have been shocking and emotional. I didn't entirely see it coming but it also didn't come as much of a shock. I didn’t feel sad or even surprised. I just felt generally disaffected by this book. It didn’t hit me in the feels, instead it just sort of fell a little flat. The only emotion I felt was disappoint for this books missed potential.

I give Second Star by Alyssa B. Sheinmel a 6 out of 10

I wouldn't not recommend it despite my less than favorable review. If you don't like inst-love or unlikable characters then give this book a pass. If you are a fan of creative retellings, Peter Pan, or are looking for a quick beach read that will make you feel connected with the ocean then check it out.

Have you read Second Star? What were your thoughts? Leave me a comment.  Thanks for stopping by and HAPPY READING!


  1. Ugh, insta-love. Killing the potential for great books everywhere!

    I'm really disappointed that Second Star didn't end up being that great. I like GOOD retellings but it doesn't sound like this is one of them. I'll hopefully still try reading it at some point, but we'll see!

    Brenna from Esther's Ever After

  2. We're on the same page, Cassi. The romance was a disaster, & I was bored most of the time. My biggest gripe was then end, though (which I hate that I can't talk about more because SPOILERS). It was irritating in the extreme.