Title: Never Ever
Author: Sara Saedi
Publisher: Viking, an imprint of Penguin Random House, 2016
Genre: YA Fantasy, YA Fairy Tale Retellings, YA Classic Revamp
I really wanted to have the Pan character be the good guy! I really did! ::sobs::
Why can’t there be a retelling where “Pan” is the good guy?
Ok. I’m over it. Just disappointed. Not in the book, though. The book was awesome!
I loved every minute of it. Here’s what happens…
Wiley and her brothers Joshua and Micah have a strong bond. This keeps them as their own small family unit, staying strong despite their parent’s frequent fights and impending divorce. On the night before Joshua is to go to jail for a drink driving accident, Wiley sneaks them all out to a party to celebrate her birthday and send Joshua off. When a handsome stranger approaches Wiley at the rooftop gathering, Wiley is nervous, but goes with him to get some food and talk. When he starts to fly, she can’t believe her eyes. Phinn is handsome, mysterious, and seventeen, just like Wiley. Before they know it, they are partying on Phinn’s boat, flying through the air with help from a special flower they ate.
In the morning, Wiley realizes that Phinn’s has kidnapped them. Joshua, Micah, and Wiley are scared…but Phinn promises them a way out of Joshua’s jail time: he has a special place he knows they’ll love. All he asks is 24 hours of their time. Joshua has already missed his court appearance, and their in the middle of the ocean, so what else can they do?
When Phinn shows them an island paradise where no one ages past seventeen, they’re skeptical to say the least. But they vote to stay…what else do they really have waiting back for them in New York? Just parents that fight and soon, a painful separation, the three realize. So they stay…but they don’t seem to follow the old adage: if it seems to good to be true, it probably is.
Oh, definitely yes. The way the classic fairy tale is retold is amazing. Yes, there’s a hint of intimacy, but only an insinuation. No swearing. It’s perfect for a fairy-tale unit or working with classics in contemporary literature. It’s not too high fantasy for teens to relate to it, but it has enough fantasy to make it interesting. It also deals with real world problems like substance abuse and divorce. It’s an excellent anchor text or an example to use when having students do narrative writing as well. It can help them see how to take a classic and make it your own, and make it work.
The book is not currently featured on Lexile.com, probably because it is so new…or maybe because it is not popular enough. I don’t know. My estimate would be 13 and up. It’s clean but still has an edge with the drinking and partying references, and of course there is that one time that intimacy is alluded to. I would feel comfortable letting mature middle graders read it.
★★★★★. With a great premise and a fast pace, I breezed through this. And I enjoyed every minute of it. At 310 pages, I thought it would be a labor, but it was such a quick read. And the plus side/bonus? It includes a chapter for the sequel, The Lost Kids. I’ll be putting that on my TBR list!!
I can’t say this enough: go pick up a copy of this book. Amazing cover, great story, adventurous plot. There’s no drawbacks to this book. I only wish there was more right now.