06 March, 2018


Title: Peter Darling
Author:  Austin Chant
Series: n/a
Genres: Retelling, LGBT
Publisher: Less Than Three Press
Release: February 15th 2017
Source: eBook
Pages: 164

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Ten years ago, Peter Pan left Neverland to grow up, leaving behind his adolescent dreams of boyhood and resigning himself to life as Wendy Darling. Growing up, however, has only made him realize how inescapable his identity as a man is.

But when he returns to Neverland, everything has changed: the Lost Boys have become men, and the war games they once played are now real and deadly. Even more shocking is the attraction Peter never knew he could feel for his old rival, Captain Hook—and the realization that he no longer knows which of them is the real villain.


EXPECTATIONS: For some reason my expectations were pretty bad. I thought this is going to be a far... Well, more basic story of a queer transgender youth finding their path, discovering either a lipstick or suspenders, depending on their gender. I'm happy to say my expectations were not met: this was a far better story.

THE WORLD: Anyone can reach Neverland, as long as you want and need it enough. Out there you can be whatever you want, you can do what you wish to an extent of the world rules. But as long as you're a story teller with vivid enough imagination - the said rules will not oppress you, and the magic of this world - will help you as best it can. There's fairies, there's magic, there's pirates, and battles! And apparently, it's a boy's dream.

CHARACTERS: Peter Pan spent a decade away. He remembered his brothers, and the family, who, truth be told, didn't love him much, and found his pretend games - a great nuisance, if not a mental illness sign. But he loved them so much, he returned, hoping beyond hope that they will see the boy he became, that they will see Peter. Instead they greeted him as Wendy, threatened to put him in an asylum and separate him from his brothers. Thus Peter was doomed to spend a decade pretending, putting on a petticoat and a smile with it. When finally he could bear this no longer, it was no other than Tinkerbell who came to rescue this spirit of Youth and Joy away, before this precious, powerful story-teller got destroyed. Peter, on his return, found that Lost Boys grew up too, and much like himself are now young men who, unlike him, aren't very interested in playing war anymore. They made truce with the pirates too, the villains! And thanks to that, Captain Hook has flourished. He saw no problems in the lack of bloodshed, and resorted to collecting hidden treasures, rather than raiding, stealing, and killing. All that left Pan in a very dire situation, one where he didn't feel complete without his activities, and where he found himself to be the bad guy, whenever he pursued what he perceives to be his duty as a boy, as a man: battles, war.

ROMANCE: Captain Hook was here before Pan ever was, even though Pan is considered to be the older dreamer (due to Peter having dreamed of Neverland, and being a real, accepted, validated boy, since he was a little child). The two of them are mighty hurt souls, thus naturally they gravitate towards one another. Admittedly, it was a little weird at first, since I thought this is going to be that same old "I want to kill you, but we can kiss instead" kind of romance, but it wasn't. Peter simply sought out completion, and it took Hook's wisdom to explain him that war doesn't make man a man, and so there's no need for constant battles, fighting. No one truly feels any hurt over the other, so if Peter would just stop... And he did, and it worked, and I am very okay with it.

GOOD: The story hit home. Peter's actions and reactions are very familiar, and accurate, if exaggerated. There's stages to accepting yourself as you are, and they met them all, from demanding roles that fit you better, whether it's due to pretense of not wishing to be anyone else, or outright admittance of being someone else than what people see, to fear that if you don't act a certain way - your word will lessen in people's eyes (e.g. many trans men will tell you they found it difficult to even put eyeliner on before transition, for the battle to win at least one person to believe your story is often too hard, and this step of make-up could be perceived as doubt, falter, much like people eye gay trans people weirdly, for in a sense it'd be better for them to just stay as they are, since they like opposite sex as is: a.k.a. you're not a gay man, you're a straight woman). So the good part: a realistic transgender man who was not so easily accepted as most sugarcoated stories would tell you. 

BAD: I don't really like Peter Pan stories. Tho this is a great improvement.

OVERALL: Story itself was pretty mediocre. It's not written very well, and some ideas might be hard to grasp unless you've a friend like that in your circle, or you yourself have been in those shoes. But the message it passes on: validation feels too tremendous to mean nothing - is extremely important. I can't help but like it.

What do you think about PETER DARLING?



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