Did you enjoy the original Peter Pan, but felt it focused too much on pixie-dust, magical adventures, everlasting youth and not enough on tragic child death and grief? Well, if the answer to that question was yes, then The Wendy Project may be just the depressing Peter Pan reboot you've been waiting for!
In stores today, The Wendy Project by Melissa Jane Osborne and Veronica Fish asks: what if, instead of being transported to the magical world of Neverland by a flying boy and his fairy friend, Tinkerbell, Wendy kills her brother and has to change schools while dealing with hallucinations as she tries to cope with what she's done? Sounds like a blast, right?
It is a late summer night when 16-year-old Wendy Davies crashes her car into a New England lake with her two younger brothers in the backseat. When she wakes in the hospital, she is told that her youngest brother, Michael, is dead. Wendy — a once rational teenager — shocks her family by insisting that Michael is alive and in the custody of a mysterious flying boy. Placed in a new school, Wendy negotiates fantasy and reality as students and adults around her resemble characters from Neverland. Given a sketchbook by her therapist, Wendy starts to draw. But is "The Wendy Project" merely her safe space, or a portal between worlds? As Wendy works her way through her emotions of loss, sadness and survivor's guilt she chooses to confront her feelings and, contrary to Peter's motto . . . grow up.
Of course, the the true origins of Peter Pan have always been a bit darker than the 1954 Disney movie that most people today think of. Peter's creator, J.M. Barrie, based Peter on his older brother, David, who died in an ice-skating accident the day before he turned fourteen. And a popular interpretation of the story sees the Lost Boys as dead children being ushered into the afterlife by Peter. And let's not even get into the version of the character that debuted in 1902 in Barrie's novel The Little White Bird.
So perhaps a dark, modern take on Peter Pan is actually more respectful to the character's origins than it first appeared. And according to the press release, it's been heaped with praise:
"Ethereal and haunting."—KIRKUS REVIEWS
"A masterpiece." —David Gallagher, author of The Only Living Boy
"This unexpected gem stands out among latter-day versions of Peter Pan thanks to its embrace of genuine emotion and psychological gravity."—LIBRARY JOURNAL, Starred Review
"Heartbreak spreads through every corner of Osborne and Fish's gorgeous tale, where splashes of color serve as glowing metaphors for change, self-discovery, and pain. THE WENDY PROJECT breaches the gap between real-world tragedy and the lure of fantastical places like Neverland, where the self can be left behind."—Samuel Sattin, author of The Silent End and Legend
"A thought-provoking, poignant look at adolescence."—SCHOOL LIBRARY JOURNAL
Look for The Wendy Project in bookstores today, or order it on Amazon. The 96 page full color paperback graphic novel retails for $12.95.
Check out a trailer and some interior art below: