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Book Review: Peter and the Secret of Rundoon by Ridley Pearson and Dave Barry

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Dave Barry and Ridley Pearson have reinvented Peter Pan, the Lost Boys, and Captain Hook so well that a generation from now no one might remember where J.M. Barrie’s original creation ended and their's began. So far, the two have written three incredibly fat and action-packed volumes of Peter’s adventures with the “starstuff,” the magical fallen stars that gave him his power and — in effect — rendered him immortal, though as a boy doomed never to grow up.

Along the way, Barry and Pearson have also brought a multitude of other parts of the legend to life and to center stage. At present, they’ve authored two short novels on other characters in Peter’s worldscape.

Peter and the Secret of Rundoon finishes off the trilogy Barry and Pearson set out to write and fans of the series are already feeling the loss. The two authors succeed brilliantly in bringing their books to cinematic life within the pages. The pacing of all three books proceeds at breakneck speed.

As with the other books, Peter and the Secret of Rundoon jumps in with both feet and with three different storylines that ultimately converge in the trilogy’s final battle.

I love these books, and I love reading them to my son. There’s just enough going on all the time — enough chases and enough mystery — that it keeps him fully engaged. And me too. They’re even interesting enough for me to read by myself, then go back almost immediately and read them again to him.

Lord Ombra, Peter’s ultimate enemy in this book, returns and begins his machinations to bring about the end of the Starcatchers, those people responsible for keeping the “starstuff” out of the hands of bad guys. Ombra quickly links up with Captain Nerezza and the chase is on.

In the meantime, Peter becomes aware of a murderous group — the Scorpion Tribe — coming to Mollusk Island to wreak havoc on everyone there. Peter almost gets himself killed doing that and Tinker Bell has to save the day.

Back in England, Molly Aster and her friends begin tracking down clues that ultimately lead them to Peter’s real identity and how he came to be at the home for wayward boys.

Talking about any of these plotlines too much will give away important twists and turns in Peter and the Secret of Rundoon. Suffice to say there are plenty of surprises, and that Barry and Ridley really do justice to Barrie’s creation and invented world. In a way, the authors really set up Barrie’s initial novel by explaining many of the things Peter Pan fans have always wondered.

If you haven’t read this trilogy, you can’t wander through them. The books have to be read in order. Peter’s powers grow, as does the villainy of his foes. And readers are gently nudged out of the world that existed then and slid right into Neverland. If you like juvenile fantasy novels, you’ll be hard-pressed to find many better, more quick to read, or more inventive than these. The world is at once familiar and wondrous.

But the best time you’ll ever have is sitting down with these and reading them to your kids. Unless you’re a kid yourself. Then wait twenty years and read them then. These books are going to be timeless.

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