Peter and the Starcatchers
Dave Barry and
In this Peter Pan ‘prequel’ co-authored by Dave Barry (yes, that Dave Barry), young orphan Peter boards a rickety old bucket of a ship called the Never Land on his way to become a slave in the courts of a far-away and not-so-nice king. But of course, he never makes it to this dubious destination, because a particularly nasty pirate named Black Stache is on the trail of the Never Land, which happens to be carrying some valuable — and powerful — cargo. 450 pages of non-stop action ensue, punctuated here and there by wacky humor.
This book is very well-geared towards its obvious audience: ten-year-old boys. It is funny and creative, but mostly it’s just jam-packed with non-stop action scenes. Fun stuff, if completely and utterly fluffy. The tenuous thread of plot revolves around a young girl named Molly who happens to be a Starcatcher, one of a secret society of persons dedicated to finding and removing from the earth a powerfully magical substance called starstuff (otherwise known as fairy dust). The starstuff has to be hunted down and removed because it poses such a danger to mankind (cue One-Ring-like descriptions of how absolute power corrupts absolutely). However, this doesn’t stop Molly and her cohorts from using limited portions of the starstuff in their quest to destroy the vast majority of it. If this sounds a bit oxymoronic, well . . . it’s an action novel. That’s not the point.
The book’s humor mostly revolves around the utterly brain-dead and disgusting villains. There are definite moments of real cleverness here, though. And the book is undeniably a fun read. Morally, there’s not much to say about something this fluffy. The moral bonus points it could have earned (in my estimation) by its attitude toward grasped magical power were pretty well nullified by the Starcatchers’ own use of that power . . . but, like I said, that really isn’t the point of this book. I didn’t find the book as a whole one bit problematic. Just fluffy.
Content warning: Though it usually wouldn’t merit much notice from me, occasional crude and/or gross-out humor in a book geared toward ten-year-olds is perhaps unfortunate (though the ten-year-olds are unlikely to mind). But it really is only occasional.