Sunday, March 14, 2010

Peter and the Secret of Rundoon

And now, Dave Barry and Ridley Pearson present the final novel in the Starcatchers trilogy and the penultimate novel in the Peter Pan Pseudo-Prequel franchise: Peter and the Secret of Rundoon. A more compact and concise volume than Peter and the Shadow Thieves, it has a lot to do-- namely, getting everything into place for Peter Pan, sort of. Except the novel's events take place about 20 years before the actual classic begins. So not really into place, but getting into a lull that could last a couple decades.

But I digress.

Remember how, in Peter and the Starcatchers, Peter and Molly were on a ship headed for Rundoon? Well, they've finally ended up there, and guess what? It's not a very nice place. King Zarboff rules the land with an iron fist (and the help of his pet snake, Kundalini, who eats anyone he doesn't like).

But that's not all. Remember Lord Ombra, from Peter and the Shadow Thieves? Of course you do. He's evil, remember? He's none too pleased that things didn't go according to plan in Book 2, and now the scale of his schemes have increased. Here's a hint: first Peter, then the world!

To top it off, on Mollusk Island, aka Never Land, there's a tribal war going on, and the vicious Scorpions look like they'll conquer Peter's allies. Shining Pearl, the chief's daughter, thinks she has an idea of how to stop them, but it'll be risky...

I've noticed a parallel between the Disney-published Pseudo-Prequels and their Pirates of the Caribbean movie franchise. There was a stand-alone based off an already established Disney franchise (featuring pirates, no less), and the stand-alone did so well that other installments were planned, designed to be more interconnected and come out a year apart. The second installment, released in 2006, had about as much story as the first one, if not a little less, but was longer and felt more bloated. The third, released in 2007, was even more packed, convoluted, and outlandish than the previous two, but significantly better than the second one.

See what I mean?

And this volume will be more divisive than the others, simply because it's weirder. But it's still a lot of fun, and makes a great ride to the finish that can't be put down. It's a nice change of scenery from the previous one, expanding the number of locales even farther. The adventure runs as high as Peter can fly, and there's a particularly memorable sequence that involves both, as depicted on the cover.

Did I mention that I really like the illustrations? Both the cover and the illustrations are done by the talented Greg Call, which lend a nice atmosphere to the book. The covers all feature increasingly chaotic moments, with Peter and the Secret of Rundoon being the most so. They're a lot of fun to take in, and genuinely make you think, when you pick up the book: How the heck does this happen?

So, in summary: Good writing, weird plot, fun and memorable moments, and some great illustrations. Whatever your stance is on Dave Barry and Ridley Pearson deviating from James Barrie's notes, you should give this series a try.

My rating: 9/10

And you know how else it's like the Pirates of the Caribbean movies? A couple of years after the "end" of the "trilogy" was released, the decision was made for there to be one last installment. And that's how we get to Peter and the Sword of Mercy...

Coming Soon: Peter and the Sword of Mercy.

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