(Author: J.M. Barrie) + (Year: 1911) + (Goodreads)
How often do you have the opportunity to read a story you’ve known your entire life for the first time? Because Peter Pan is part of the lives of each and every one of us, and yet, with a little shame, I admit I never really read the original novel by J.M. Barrie. I’ve watched every single movie made, whether it’s a motion picture, an animation or even a TV show(Once Upon a Time, but still…). I’ve even seen the Johnny Depp movie about Barrie himself. Yet, until today this book remained unread.
And now it saddens me that I didn’t read it as a child, because I would have loved it, as I loved the movies and animations. However, as critical and over-analyzing as I am today, I couldn’t help but find some problems with this book. Honestly, I’m not even sure 3 stars is the right rating. I don’t know if there is a right rating. Grading a story which has left such a mark on your life is a hard thing to do. Because I was disappointed by the book, but I have so many magical childhood memories about Peter Pan himself. But since I’ve promised myself to be truthful in these reviews, I’ll honestly tell you the things that didn’t sit right with me.
– I’m not sure if this is the product of the fact that I’m not a child anymore, but I didn’t get the feeling that this was a proper children’s book. I actually felt that there were many sexual connotations, it was too grown up in a way, an therefore a bit disturbing.
For one, there was Tink’s attitude toward Peter, which seemed like the one of a jealous girlfriend, including her actual jealousy, and the fact that she curses a lot every time she appears, including things which are not explained, but it is made obvious that she is saying obscenities.
Then there was the whole kissing business, obviously:
And especially: all of these kids playing at being mothers, fathers and their babies. Wendy and Peter as a couple, Wendy acting as a mother, the subtle discussions about babies and how they come to be. If this was a child’s play, like children often do, it would be one thing, but this novel is written by a man who, by that point, knew perfectly well where babies come from so it seemed wrong to read the way he embeds such talk and behaviour in small children.
– The book seemed disturbing and inappropriate in another fashion, too. Namely, all of the children become murderers at one point and that is described as no big deal. There is no moral dilemma, none of them even thinks twice about killing. I can’t see in what way is it normal to take murder lightly, and I don’t think it is so in most fairytales, brothers Grimm excluded, because their version today is much happier than it once was.
– The character of Peter Pan. I was sort of surprised when I found out that he is going to be a villain in OUAT, but after reading the book now, it’s actually not so hard to imagine. Peter is a volatile and egotistical character. He is bossy, and not in a nice way, and he often mistreats and humiliates his Lost boys(though I don’t remember them ever being called that in the book itself). Not to mention the entire business about him escorting dead children as far as he can on their way to the other side. Which, on its own, makes me question this entire book and makes me think a lot about dead children, much as The Brothers Lionheart. But maybe getting into this would be over-thinking it, so I’ll just leave it here as an idea for you too.