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Saturday, November 6, 2010

Short Story Saturday: "The Spy Who Never Grew Up" by Sarah Rees Brennan


"The Spy Who Never Grew Up" is an odd little mash-up of the Peter Pan story, good time espionage, and paranormal almost-romance.  Six generations after the infamous Wendy, Ashley finds herself whisked away to Neverland, where she comes face to face with the thing that has haunted her family for generations, and drove her grandmother insane -- the boy who won't grow up, Peter Pan himself.  But Neverland is changing and Peter is a little older -- and Ashley's in for an interesting experience...

The Spy Who Never Grew Up was ... interesting.  At first I was like, Peter Pan?  wtf?  It was funny, and it was kinda weird (I do  like weird), but it was  bordering on a miss for me for a couple of reasons:
  1. I really. really like Peter Pan. I'm not talking Disneyfied Peter, but JM Barry quirky awesomeness.  But Peter Pan the heartthrob?  This is supposed to be a book of paranormal romance, after all...
  2.  And there's always a choice when you're writing about an established character -- do you try to match the language/tone of the original, or abandon it and do your own thing?  

At first, this was caught somewhere in the middle for me, though I think she went more for tone and ambience that capturing the style, which was wise.  But it was weird -- I love Peter, but I wasn't sure I wanted to buy him as a heartthrob.  I mean, it does somehow work -- we all like boyish charm, right? -- but at the same time, it was like, Peter is sacred.  Do I want to see him lustful?  No, I don't.  
    But SRB made some good, wise choices in this.  She downplayed  Peter isn't lustful.  There are moments where romance just barely comes into play and it's like something nearly breaks through his fantasy world, but in the end, Peter is the boy who wouldn't grow up, and not even a good kiss can quite snap him out of that.  But there's a wistfulness created in him that works and is really endearing.  So yeah, it's not really what I would generally call paranormal romance, but it was unique, and I can't fault that.  There's a great playfulness to it that's just plain fun, and it sort of leaves you wondering about Peter and his future and the inevitability of growing up.  It wasn't what I was expecting, and I didn't think I wanted it, but in the end, I'm glad I had it.  You know?

    "The Spy Who Never Grew Up" is found in the anthology Kiss Me Deadly.
    Sarah Rees Brennan is the author of The Demon's Lexicon.


    1. I got a kick out of your thoughts on this--I absolutely agree. I enjoyed this short story but it was very "romancey" for me! Especially when the guy in question still has his baby teeth! LOL


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