[Review] Lost in the Never Woods by Aiden Thomas

★★★☆☆

young adult | retelling | mystery

It’s been five years since Wendy and her two brothers went missing in the woods, but when the town’s children start to disappear, the questions surrounding her brothers’ mysterious circumstances are brought back into light. Attempting to flee her past, Wendy almost runs over an unconscious boy lying in the middle of the road, and gets pulled into the mystery haunting the town.

Peter, a boy she thought lived only in her stories, claims that if they don’t do something, the missing children will meet the same fate as her brothers. In order to find them and rescue the missing kids, Wendy must confront what’s waiting for her in the woods.

WARNING: I might spoil or give away some things from the plot, but nothing too important.

I was so excited about this because I love retellings, but it just didn’t live up to my expectations.

The story seemed to drag for so long, I got to half of the book and it felt like so many things had happened but it just hadn’t really gone anywhere? It’s a mystery, but it seemed like the clues and actual discoveries were trickling in so slow it didn’t feel like they were making any progress. There were no exciting plot twists until the very end, which was also kind of boring. It didn’t feel like much was at stake with how leisure Peter and Wendy were acting. Like Wendy would have an encounter with Peter’s shadow and lose a kid, and then they go to the woods and end up swimming and laughing.

The villain didn’t feel much like a villain either. I don’t know if the Thomas was going for an “atmosphere”, but it certainly wasn’t there. The villain appeared a couple of times, being mysterious and all that, but it just didn’t feel like it was actually powerful. Peter goes on and on about him growing weaker, and his shadow getting so much stronger but I just didn’t feel it. Besides a little tormenting in the dark, was there anything else he could do? Might be just me, but it felt a little disappointing.

The side characters are not memorable or even interesting. For me, at least. Wendy’s best friend is there basically to create more emotional conflict for Wendy, her parents get some development and I understand their perspective but the way she is treated just angers me. I feel like the police and detectives were there just to throw fuel to the flames? They did little more than just harass Wendy and throw her into her traumatic past with no consideration.

The romantic tension felt okish, it was natural but I just… he’s Peter Pan and we all know how that ends so it was hard to get into it. I like my angst but I like a happy ending for the couple too!

Still, nostalgia plays a huge enjoyment factor, I loved every reference to the story we all know. I was disappointed that a certain character was NOT THERE but I guess there was no necessity. The ending was not so bad, the final battle sequence was quite enjoyable, considering the villain and what he held over Wendy’s head. I teared up a little, not gonna lie when Wendy remembers everything because damn. Thanks for the feelings, that was totally unnecessary.

Overall a pretty weak read. I’ve read people say that maybe Thomas was not ready to publish this book and was pressured into publishing it. If so, I believe this book still had great potential and could’ve been amazing.

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