When I heard that Lost Boy: The True Story of Captain Hook was a prequel to Peter Pan, I thought it would be bad. It was written from Captain Hook’s perspective. One of my favorite stories is Peter Pan, but I was afraid this book was just copying the villains from other stories and not making its own unique twists.
If I had doubted Christina Henry, the author of Alice and Red Queen, I should not have. Christina Henry did a great job adding to and commenting on the Alice in Wonderland canon with her novels. The characters and the world of Peter Pan are in good hands, and you can trust them.
The story of Lost Boy.
Lost Boy tells the story of Jamie, the first Lost Boy and the boy who will become Captain Hook. When we look at Neverland and Peter Pan through his young eyes, we see them in a way we’ve never seen them before. He’s not a reckless kid who doesn’t want to grow up; he’s a dangerous sociopath who wants to play games and stay young for as long as possible.
Henry told Den of Geek at San Diego Comic-Con last week that “the ground of Hook as an adult has been walked by many other writers and filmmakers.” I didn’t want to write there. To find out who Hook was before becoming Hook, I wanted to find out more about him.
One of the things that makes Lost Boy work is that it’s about someone we know, like, and understand. Without that, the story wouldn’t be as good. Jamie is that kind of person. She looks after the other Lost Boys while Peter plays his games. When the book starts, he loves Peter the most. For as long as Jamie can remember, they’ve been together. There are a lot of people who are Peter’s favorite. But when Jamie starts to lose faith in The Island and Peter’s games, all of that changes.
The empathy of Lost Boy.
The idea for “Lost Boy” came from where?
His son is now 11, but when he was 5, he was crazy about the story of Peter Pan. They would watch the 1953 Disney animated film and read the story over and over again, over and over again, again.
“All the times I was with him, I started to wonder why Captain Hook hates Peter Pan so much.” Henry: I think so, too. “Why does this adult not like this child?” It was a question that led to a book. “I always say that if there was no Henry, then there would be no Lost Boy,” says the person.
A question about friendship and boyhood drives the Lost Boy narrative, and it makes the book a fascinating look at how boyhood and friendship work together.
When Henry was writing his book, he thought about how boys can be both brutal and kind to each other at the same time. They’ll follow the most charismatic leader, he said. Peter, of course, is a charismatic leader. So, they follow him.
He cried while writing this book for the first time. It’s not hard to figure out why. This book will make you cry, and it will be because of the empathy on every page. Henry thinks this pre-Captain Hook is a real person, and so does the reader. As long as we believe in Jamie’s humanity and understand what makes him turn against Peter, this book won’t be very good. It’s hard for us to picture ourselves in Jamie’s shoes and make the same decisions and feel the same emotions as he does.
The darkness of Lost Boy.
If you know anything about Peter Pan, you’ll be able to figure out some of the twists, turns, and ending of Lost Boy. But I will say that things get dark.
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I thought about this book for a while, and I thought it might be like a steampunk book and be light-hearted, but I changed my mind. “But, you know, the more I thought about it and the more I wrote, the darker it got.” A relationship where you used to love someone is the only thing that’s that deep and viscous, I thought to myself.
Henry doesn’t make the book less scary because the characters are young. This is a book for adults, not kids. When people talk about kids, they act like they’re really innocent. But I always say that the reason that Roald Dahl’s books have been so popular for so long is because Roald Dahl doesn’t pretend that the world is a good place. When he reads his books, he has a “awareness” that bad things happen and bad things happen to kids.
It doesn’t matter whether we adults like it or not, kids have to live in a world that isn’t fair. They see that unfairness, injustice, and, sometimes, horror, no matter what we adults think.
Lost Boy tells the story of Jamie, who has seen a lot of bad things while living with Peter. He is finally able to process what he has seen.
Anybody from Henry’s editor or agent told him that this book was too dark. The sales and marketing department didn’t want to set the wrong expectations for people who were going to read the book.
To make sure people knew it was going to be a dark book, they said: To avoid people who were looking for a Peter Pan book being surprised, they thought about how the cover should look.
“It’s not for kids. Adults read it. Some parents have come up to me at book signings and said, “I have a 12-year-old who really likes Peter Pan.” I hope that helps ease some of their fears. She might like this. And I say, “Maybe you should wait a few years. I don’t know.” It’s a case-by-case thing. He calls it Lord of the Flies meets Peter Pan. The Lord of the Flies is a book that your kids might not be ready for, but my book isn’t.
Putting a spin on an existing story is nothing new.
A lot of people have put their own twists on well-known stories. Henry isn’t the first person to do this. The tradition of adapting, retelling, and reinventing Peter Pan goes back a long way. The original author, J.M. Barrie, told the story of The Boy Who Won’t Grow Up many times.
Peter Pan first appeared as a character in a 1902 adult novel by a Scottish writer called The Little White Bird. In 1904, he had his own stage play, which was made into a movie and a musical by Johnny Depp in 2004.
Peter and Wendy, written by J.M. Barrie in 1911, came after that.
It’s not a new thing for people to retell villain stories like Wicked or Maleficent, says Henry. It’s been going on since the beginning of storytelling. A Greek story called Cupid and Psyche connects with Beauty and the Beast in France, and with the Norse story called East of the Sun and West of the Moon.
The way we started telling stories was to gather around, and someone would tell a story. People who heard that story would go to another place and tell that story, but with their own flair, right? When you first tell the story, it changes. This game of “telephone” is going on all the time.
Henry talks about how these myths are shared. In her own stories, she often looks for “imaginative space” in stories that have already been told.
A lot of authors fill in the gaps in original stories when they retell them. This is one of the things that I think a lot of authors do when they retell stories. Why does Hook hate Peter Pan? That was me. I filled in the empty space. If I didn’t answer every question, there’s still room for the reader to fill in that space with their own ideas.
This isn’t the first time someone has told, reimagined or expanded an old story. It’s just that our modern idea of copyright law and how to own a story aren’t that old. Is a story something you can own?
That book by Glen Weldon and the character of Batman seem to be of interest to Henry as well, and he says that this discussion is a good way to think about it. During Weldon’s talk, Henry points out that he talks about “how the Batman we have today is so different from the original conception.” He also talks about how each generation has said that their Batman is “sort of the real Batman.”
There are a lot of issues that come up when people are fans and own things, Henry said. “What is the real person?” Is there a real person in this story, or is there room for all of these ideas?
If you want to know what happens after Lost Boy, read on. You’re in the best place! If you want to keep reading the story of Peter Pan even after you read the original, there are a lot of other stories that will. Henry: “My idea was that it would be almost like a true prequel, so this is Hook’s story and the next one is Peter Pan.” Here is what happens next: read Peter Pan to find out what happens next.
As for Henry, she just finished writing “His Mermaid,” which is a story about magic, mermaids, and P.T. Barnum, according to Henry’s website. Henry is looking for ideas for her next project now that her next book is done. After being asked about narrative spaces in other well-known stories that she might like to look into, she comes up with some ideas.
There are a lot of things I want to know about Miranda after The Tempest. This made me think about how old she would be when I grew up. If I ever write something like that, I’ll think about it. A kind of post-apocalyptic Red Riding Hood is also something I’ve been playing around with a lot, as well.