I think my problem with reading Alyssa Sheinmel’s stuff is that I really, really liked Faceless, and want everything she writes to have been as good as that. But having read her debut novel, and now having enjoyed this retelling of Peter Pan, but with added surfing, I have to say that I really think Faceless is her best work, so I was expecting big things of Second Star, and it fell just short of the mark.
A twisty story about love, loss, and lies, this contemporary oceanside adventure is tinged with a touch of dark magic as it follows seventeen-year-old Wendy Darling on a search for her missing surfer brothers. Wendy’s journey leads her to a mysterious hidden cove inhabited by a tribe of young renegade surfers, most of them runaways like her brothers. Wendy is instantly drawn to the cove’s charismatic leader, Pete, but her search also points her toward Pete’s nemesis, the drug-dealing Jas. Enigmatic, dangerous, and handsome, Jas pulls Wendy in even as she’s falling hard for Pete. A radical reinvention of a classic, Second Star is an irresistible summer romance about two young men who have yet to grow up–and the troubled beauty trapped between them.
There were lots of things I quite liked about Second Star. The descriptions of surfing were breathtaking, and made me want to get out on the waves, despite the fact that I’m chronically incapable of maneuvering a surfboard. The depictions of Wendy in the summer after high school, when she knows she’s about to grow up and doesn’t want to, and all the parallels to Peter Pan are lovely, from the characters (except Belle, who’s about as one-dimensional as the jealous little fairy) to the settings, and the nods to other aspects of Peter Pan, such as the beach being called Kensington, the second star, and probably lots of other things I didn’t notice. Sheinmel’s style of writing is entrancing, and I flew through this book in only two days.
But it’s really lacking something that Faceless had. I think it was that emotional punch. Funnily enough, although I thought there was a great deal of emotion in The Beautiful Between, but it lacked plot. Second Star was packed with plot, from Wendy’s emotionally coming to terms with her brothers to her journey towards growing up, but really lacked any depth of emotion.
The love triangle in Second Star also had me rolling my eyes. Two insta-loves and a girl caught between them who doesn’t know which way she wants to go, but neither of them was convincing, and I wasn’t pulling for either relationship to go anywhere.
There was lots about Second Star to like, and I know that Sheinmel has a superb way with words, but I definitely don’t think this is her best work, and would recommend Faceless over this any day of the week.