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Thursday, March 24, 2011

Book Review: Another Pan by Daniel & Dina Nayeri

Another Pan (Another, #2)
Reading level: Young Adult 
Hardcover: 400 pages 
Publisher: Candlewick (September 14, 2010) 
Purchase: Amazon | Barnes & Noble | Indiebound 

A darkness continues to haunt the Marlowe School, and this time, someone is plotting payback. Wendy Darling, a headstrong junior, and her brother, John, a thirteen-year-old genius with a chip on his shoulder, struggle with being from the poorest family at the posh New York academy, where their father is a professor of ancient civilizations. Wendy’s new boyfriend, socialite golden-boy Connor Wirth, offers a solid step up in popularity, yet ambitious Wendy and John still find themselves longing for something more. When the Book of Gates, a mysterious tome of fabled origins, appears at Marlowe along with Peter, a dashing new resident adviser with a murky past, the Darlings are swept into a captivating world of “Lost Boys,” old-world secrets, and forbidden places. The book opens the door to a hidden labyrinthine underworld where Egyptian myths long thought impossible become frighteningly real. Suddenly, Peter, Wendy, and John find themselves captive in the lair of an age-old darkness, trying to escape the clutches of an ancient and beautiful child-thief who refuses to let go.

Book Opening:
New York (spring)
"All nights come to an end—that is to say, all nights see the break of day. For those of us who are afraid of the dark, or at least not very fond of vampires or impending alarm clocks, thankfully, all nights do end. "- Page 1
Another Pan
Notable Scene: 
 "Wendy expected to fall a long way down some black hole and land hard. So when her feet prematurely hit an ordinary stone step, she lost her footing and stumbled right into her brother, whose mouth was hanging open. He was standing on the step above her, on a patch of stringy green lichen. The first thought that went through Wendy's mind was that they had lost their way back, that they were forever trapped here." – Page 105
"Let Peter play his games just as he had done when he was a child, a wayward, unrepentant child who rejected her plans for his own. Let them all come a little closer. Each time they opened a gate was a brand-new opportunity to infect the world with malice, hatred, and sorrow. Every time someone new entered, another soul could be corrupted forever." – Page 167

First things first. If you are looking for a strict retelling of Peter Pan, then this book is probably not the right one for you. While the authors draw heavily from the characters and makeup of  J.M. Barrie's classic story, they have also woven an entirely new tale with Another Pan.  Readers of the "Another" series will be familiar with the location though- Another Pan takes place at the Marlowe School, the infamous locale from the first book, Another FaustNote: While both books are connected, you don't need to have read the first one at all to enjoy Another Pan.

OVERVIEW:  As Another Pan kicks off, we become acquainted with Wendy and John Darling, two teenagers attending Marlowe, the creepiest prep school ever.  Having been familiar with the first book, I have to say that Marlowe has officially evolved  into a living, breathing villain for me. Underneath the seemingly prestigious halls of the academy are hidden passageways with Egyptian tombs, quick sand, and most importantly—a mythic and highly sought after substance that some people (ahem-Peter) will stop at nothing to get. Villeroy, the abominable governess from the first book is back as well—this time as the sickly school nurse who secretly guards the eerie alternate dimension below the basement from unwelcome rich kids.

MY THOUGHTS:  Another Pan is both a character-driven novel and one that's rich in vivid imagery with an imaginative, fast-paced plot. You'll recognize a lot of familiar names—Peter, Wendy, The Lost Boys and Tink (n/k/a Tina) are all on the scene. My favorite character was actually the fiery Tina—I loved how vivacious and head-strong she was.  Though not a central focus of the book, I found her personality the most intriguing. Wendy and John were well-fleshed out and always full of personality, but John did test my patience at times with all his posturing to be "cool". I enjoyed Wendy's character much more—I loved her interactions with Peter and her strong, moral character. As for Peter--wow, what a piece of work! This was a guy who cared about nothing more than maintaining his youth, so much so that I felt like he had forgotten how to really live—how to enjoy the present, how to laugh and how to love. The Nayeri's depicted him as a dangerous, handsome bad boy who lured people to him with his magnetism, but I always thought Wendy was way too good for him.

Overall, I enjoyed Another Pan—even more so than Another Faust. I did think at times , however, that the book was trying to be too many different types of stories at once —the Egyptian mythology and Peter Pan tale never quite meshed up and this clashing of plot elements definitely made everything a little off kilter for me.  I think the book should've either followed the Peter Pan storyline more consistently or forgone it all together for the Egyptian curse theme. Both were really great in their own way and would've been strong enough to carry an entire book. 

To recap:  Another Pan was an interesting melding of Egyptian curses, quest-based adventure and some pretty exciting sleuthing.  As always, it will be interesting to see what the Nayeri's come up with next! 

1/2 Stars

Cover comment: I'm afraid this cover might actually skew the book slightly younger than it's intended to be. I'm not really crazy about it to be honest. Something simple would've been better. I picture an open bay window with Wendy curled up and gazing out into the starry, night sky .... Also, I think the guy on the cover is trying really hard to rock some classic 90201 hair styles from back in the day - what do you think? :)

Daniel Nayeri has held many book-related jobs, including editor, literary agent, and children’s librarian. He is also a professional pastry chef and award-winning stuntman. His sister, Dina Nayeri, is a former teaching fellow in economics who holds both an MBA and a master’s of education from Harvard University. Both were born in Iran and now live in New York City and Amsterdam, respectively.

Official Website 


Alexa said...

I have been torn between reading Another Faust and Pan and although your review is lovely I still feel torn.

Jan von Harz said...

I thoroughly enjoyed this review. I have not read either of these books but have been interested in them nonetheless. Your review has me curious especially about Marlowe, and I it also clarified some things about the plot of Another Pan for me. Thanks!

Juju at Tales of Whimsy.com said...

Awesome review and LOL I LOVE that do!