Friday, February 27, 2009

REVIEW: Peter Pan by J. M. Barrie

Peter Pan cover
Genre: Fiction, Classics
Pub Date: February 2007, B&N Classics
Format: Hardcover, 159 pages.
Source/FTC Disclosure: I purchased my copy of this book. I was in no way compensated for this review and my opinions are my own.
J.M. Barrie's Peter Pan first flew across a London stage in 1904, overwhelming audiences with its tale of a magical boy who never grows up, who lures young Wendy and her brothers to Neverland where they meet pirates, Indians, fairies, and the Lost Boys. Following the play's astonishing success, Barrie revised and expanded the story and published it as this novel, originally titled Peter and Wendy when it appeared in 1911.
For children, Peter Pan remains a marvelous mix of fantasy and adventure, featuring unique, imaginative characters, who frisk and frolic in an enchanting land. For adults, the story of Peter and the Lost Boys works on a much deeper level, speaking to them about the inevitable loss of childhood and the ability "to fly." The climactic duel between the "proud and insolent youth" (Peter Pan) and the "dark and sinister man" (Captain Hook) is both a swashbuckling romp and a moving metaphor for the complex, poignant struggle between innocent but irresponsible youth and tainted but dependable maturity. Neither side wins, for the one inevitably becomes the other. Of course, the ageless Peter Pan is the happy exception.


First off, I guess I have to be honest and say that until reading this book (for the first time!) my only impressions of Peter Pan were formed by the Disney movie. After reading the book, I have to say that Disney did stay rather true to the story, though adapted it to be more suitable for children.

Interestingly enough, there are some rather dark and sinister bits and pieces throughout this short novel. Peter Pan is a bit more bloodthirsty than I think he was portrayed in the animated movie. And Captain Hook is certainly a much more violent character as written by Barrie--you never knew when he would tear one of his men with his hook! Another thing I found interesting, is that while the book is rather amusing and comical at points, there is a real sadness (a life without a mother's love) underlying the humor. One thing to note about Peter Pan--he is one cocky little boy! I actually found myself growing annoyed with him as I read the book and rolling my eyes from time to time when he had a tendency to be more obnoxious. Overall, I really enjoyed reading this book--it is quite entertaining, though the last chapter is bittersweet. Barrie's writing is humorous and quick to read, once you get used to the language of that time period. I felt myself swept right up into the story, and even though I knew it wasn't meant to be, there was still a part of me that kept hoping for Wendy to stay with Peter forever.

I also thought that this particular edition was helpful, because it offered a great deal of biographical information on Barrie, in addition to helpful footnotes throughout. When you read more about J. M. Barrie's childhood, you really understand how he could have created this story, and indeed, it makes the story that much more poignant.

 5 stars

Other reviews of Peter Pan:



  1. Great review! :)
    It's always nice to go back to something and find more substance there, and you've outlined the nuances of the book wonderfully.


  2. Thanks! I'll have to check out that book you mentioned in your other comment, as well. Glad you enjoyed my review! :-)

  3. What a great review! I had started Tigerheart by Peter David last month, which is based on Peter Pan but I stopped so I can read Barrie first. Now I know which edition I should read. Thanks!

  4. Hey, thanks for linking to my review. It's great to rediscover the classics, isn't it? :)


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