Books

Peter Pan by J.M. Barrie (Spoiler-Free)

“Pan, who and what art thou?” he cried huskily.
“I’m youth, I’m joy,” Peter answered at a venture, “I’m a little bird that has broken out of the egg.”

That my friends is Peter Pan in a nutshell. Well, add in a fairy orgy or two (yes you read that right) and a dozen pirate killings. Then you have the book I’ve just read.

If you’re thinking this is anything like its Disney counterpart, think again because it’s so much darker and very odd compared to the movie we all know and love. I knew the originals were darker, but you don’t realise just how much has been changed until you actually sit down to read them. It started with ‘when children died he went part of the way with them, so that they should not be frightened’ and ended with them returning home and Michael’s first words about his father being ‘he is not so big as the pirate I killed’. From start to finish, it was all just odd. It was enjoyable but very odd.

A big part of its strangeness was the writing style. You, the reader, are a child tucked up in bed asking to hear the well-known story of Peter Pan and J.M. Barrie is the one controlling the story, and you see how he decides which of the many adventures he should tell you on this particular night. As readers we are so used to just being thrown straight into the world, and our views become those of our protagonists, while this one is very ‘sit down, I’m going to tell you a story’ and we are always kept very separate from the characters. It’s not necessarily a bad thing; I actually found it rather clever. It was like trying to read a classic back in school, and at the same time, it was like being a child again first discovering what imagination can bring to you. Like I said before, it’s all very odd but in the best way.

“Next moment he was standing erect on the rock again, with that smile on his face and a drum beating with him. It was saying, ‘To die will be an awfully big adventure.'”

However, I do have a bit of an unpopular opinion when it comes to the story of Peter Pan, one I’ve carried since I first saw the Disney movie as a small child. I can’t stand Tinkerbell. Sometimes I feel like the only girl in the world who doesn’t like her. She’s very annoying and constantly jealous, and I honestly just see no point to her. There are plenty of fairies that could have provided the fairy dust allowing the Darlings to fly. Even reading the book I felt the same way, except for one small difference. Her insane attachment to Peter actually comes in handy and saves his life, though even that really isn’t enough to redeem her. Mostly because I didn’t like book Peter all that much either, so it really made no difference to me. All the power to you if you like these characters, but I find the story of Peter Pan to be sorely lacking in the character department. Every time I watch Peter Pan, I root for the Ticking Crocodile. Yes, the crocodile is my favourite character in Peter Pan.

I’ve always had this curiosity about where all these famous Disney fairy tales came from, so I feel rather satisfied now I know just how this particular one differs. It just wasn’t my favourite. I’m also not entirely sure why you would want to read this to small children, you know with the whole fairy orgy and random killing thing. It kind of baffles me.

I feel like this review has been a little different to my usual ones. My thoughts feel about as bizarre as this book was for me to read. But it was definitely an enjoyable experience, and I hope to eventually read some other original versions of those memorable Disney classics.

I ended up giving this book 3/5 stars since I felt kind of indifferent to it, but the time I spent reading it wasn’t wasted. I did enjoy it, but I enjoy other things a whole lot more.

Anyway, as usual, let me know your thoughts on Peter Pan! Have you ever read any of the original fairy tales and what did you think of them? Have they changed your outlook on the Disney tales? Tell me down in the comments and I will see you next time with another post!

Rachael

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