Monday, December 21, 2015

Review: Peter Pan (Novelization) – J.M. Barrie

Peter Pan (Novelization) – J.M. Barrie

The character of Peter Pan first came to life in the stories J. M. Barrie told to five brothers— three of whom were named Peter, John, and Michael. Peter Pan is considered one of the greatest children's stories of all time and continues to charm readers one hundred years after its first appearance as a play in 1904.

Review: You guys all know the story of Peter Pan, right? A boy who refuses to grow up flies through the window of Wendy, John, and Michael’s nursery and leads them to Neverland, where they meet the lost boys and battle pirates.

Peter Pan was originally a play that was first performed in 1904. In 1911, the author turned his play in to a novel. I have read (and watched) a few modernized versions of the Peter Pan story, but I didn’t know how they compared to the original, so I decided to read the 1911 novel.

The original story is much darker, weirder, and sadder than the modern versions. At times, it reminded me more of Alice in Wonderland than the modern versions of Peter Pan. Neverland is sometimes a strange, sinister place. There is death and danger around every corner.

Even though the story is a bit creepy, I think the author perfectly captures the spirit of childhood. The adventures that the children have in Neverland are a lot like the games that children play in real life. I also really like that the children sometimes can’t tell the difference between real and pretend. At one point, Peter has to ask Wendy if they are “just pretending” because he isn’t sure. The small details like that make the characters feel very childlike.

The characters in the original story are also slightly different from their modern counterparts. Honestly, Peter got on my nerves a little. He often came across as a manipulative, self-centered, violent bully. The original Peter Pan is a complex character, but he’s not very likeable.

My favorite character is Tinker Bell. She’s bad-tempered and fond of the word “ass.” I found her amusing.

I’m not sure what modern children would think of this story. The plot is entertaining, but the language and gender roles are outdated. I think a lot of younger children would struggle to understand the story without help from an adult. Older children and teens could probably read it without too many problems.

I’m glad I read this book. It’s interesting to compare the original to the modern versions and see how stories change over time. I now want to read the play.  


  1. When I was little I had a copy of the live action version with Mary Martin as Peter on VHS, and I watched that over and over again. Then I finally read the novel and was absolutely shocked! Now I have a great appreciation for the original, but I just remember being so surprised at how dark it was. Good review!

  2. It's always interesting to see the original stories that our favorites are based on - I haven't read this one, but it sounds like it would be a really interesting read! I've just finished watching the half season of Once Upon a Time that's based on Neverland, and it sounds like the Peter in the original book was a lot like the villain Peter on the show!

    Nicole @ Feed Your Fiction Addiction