Author: Alyssa B. Sheinmel
Published: Expected May 13, 2014
Source: Publisher via NetGalley
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.
Second Star is a contemporary retelling of the Peter Pan mythos that reimagines Peter as Pete, a homeless surfer and his lost boys as three other runaway youths, including (Tinker)Belle, Pete’s ex. Captain Hook becomes Jas, a “pixie dust” dealer living across the beach. And Wendy Darling is now a straight-A student who has just graduated high school and is looking for her missing brothers before she leaves for Stanford.
In the beginning, I felt the story dragged. There’s a lot of detail about Wendy’s house and her parents’ depression from John and Michael’s presumed death. She has a best friend that she’s drifted apart from due to Fiona’s boyfriend’s meddling. Despite all this detail, I couldn’t connect to Wendy. I learned a lot about her, but I never felt close to her. This never really changed, but it worked for me once she reached Kensington.
The hidden cove where the lost boys live is like another world. There are no fantastical elements to the plot, but the middle third feels like fantasy. The writing, which had been disconnected, becomes ethereal. The descriptions of the beach and the water and the way surfing feels like flying are pretty incredible. It’s beautiful and amazing and the absolute best part of the book.
And then there’s the end. I don’t know how I feel about the end. It’s confusing and messy and...lovely? It’s definitely a trippy mind fuck that feels more in line with an Alice in Wonderland retelling, but I’m left wondering if Wendy learned anything on her journey.
Second Star has gorgeous prose. I really want to recommend it on that strength alone, but I can’t. It’s instalove-y and love triangle-y and what plot there is meanders.The twist ending left me thinking about the book, but not always in a positive way. I will say, its definitely one of the more unique experiences of my reading year. It's short, though, and not a difficult read, so it may be worth a try to people who like beautiful writing. If you're looking for a standard beach novel, however, I'd look elsewhere.