15 of 15 people found the following review helpful
- Published on Amazon.com
Peter David's dazzling imagination shines again in this timeless story of a boy, Paul Dear, who wants to make his mother happy after tragedy strikes. Paul's journey to solve this dilemma leads him to the Anyplace, a fantasy realm inhabited by many colorful characters including The Boy, the pixie-with-a-potty-mouth Fiddlefix, Gwenny, the Indian Princess Picca, and a wise snow tiger. The bad guys, Captain Hack & his sister Mary Slash, and their merry band of pirates, are also interesting and scary adversaries for our hero. As Paul and his allies fight Hack, Slash and the Bully Boys, their struggle leads them to several surprising discoveries, The Boy facing his worst fears and the transformation of Paul over the course of this journey into a hero.
David creates a world captured perfectly through the eyes of a child: the naïveté of Paul, the arrogance of The Boy, the overly-responsible Gwenny, the distrust of all adults and the fears of growing up and losing your imagination all infuse the story with a sense of wonder and magic of the Anyplace while still making you scared of the bad guys, curious as to what will happen next. The characters are deep and richly created, with their emotions and motivations grounding the story while allowing them to drive the story forward without it feeling forced. The decisions the characters make are true to themselves and you feel for them when they are in danger, making a funny remark or feel touched by their perceptions of the world they live in. It mixes all of these elements well, along with a witty narrator breaking the fourth wall, talking to the reader and making you laugh out loud in between filling the reader in on what's happening.
David has a wonderful knack of writing humorous material and incorporating it into the story. I particularly enjoyed little asides, like how the origins of the eensy weensy spider, liars whose pants are on fire and chickens who absolutely, positively, must cross the road, all come from the Anyplace. The Boy's opinion that people don't know what they want because children want to grow up into adults while adults just want to recapture their youth was also funny, yet rings true for many people. It also represents the core philosophy of The Boy and his inner motivations. Gwenny contemplating being a social worker when she grows up was too perfect for words and a great character beat for her as well.
While many of these characters and situations appear to be analogous to certain aspects of "Peter Pan", the classic upon which this tale is based, the novel stands on its own as a wonderful work in its own right. As someone who hasn't read "Peter Pan" but is familiar with the characters and the animated Disney movie, I thoroughly enjoyed reading this story, as it is engaging and original. David excels at taking something familiar and uses it as the foundation to create something new and different, effortlessly moving the story in unexpected directions into an exciting, touching and fitting climax.
At its heart, amidst all the adventure of pirates and flying children, is a boy who just wants to make his mother happy and to have a complete & happy family, a story I think we all can relate to. This is a tale for all ages to read and enjoy, whether you are reading it to your children curled up in your lap or by yourself under a nightlight, conjuring up images of distant and magical lands as you explore a world made of dreams.