Tuesday, April 13, 2010

Book Review: Neverland by Douglas Clegg

Title: Neverland

Author: Douglas Clegg

Pages: 352

Received from: publisher


Beau Jackson and his cousin Sumter were only six when they first met. But even then, Beau recognized his cousin's obsession with evil. Every summer, Beau and Sumter vacation with their families on the dreary bluffs of Gull Island, and every year Beau watches as his cousin grows increasingly more powerful. But nothing prepares him for the terror that emerges when Sumter introduces him to Neverland, the place where grownups are forbidden and Sumter reigns supreme. In Neverland, the boys and their sisters escape their parents' authority, only to discover a nightmarish world of garish rituals, evil games, and ultimate bloodshed.

Beauragard Jackson has been visiting his grandmother's small house on Gull Island for years, along with his family, including his sisters and cousin, Sumter. And, like most kids, he wishes he were somewhere else. His grandmother's blantantly racists remarks and old-fashioned styles of disiplining, combined with the drunken escapades of his older relatives make for a rather unpleasent vacationing experience. Soon, however, things take an interesting turn when the little cabin the children have escaped to becomes something sinister, Sumter creating an imaginary "Lucy" to go alongside this Neverland. In addition, Beau and Sumter somehow form a telepathic connection. During all this, power is distributed and, as we all know, power leads to Plot.

The first thing, the most obvious thing, about Neverland is the atmosphere. Immediately chilling, almost heartless, as life in the eyes of a child tend to be. If there's only one thing to say of Clegg's writing, its that he knows how to set a mood. The realistic and fantastical intertwined dangerously between the "base" of Neverland. Its kind of like these two opposite ends of the spectrum--harsh reality and childish, sometimes cruel escapism.

Every character is, again, seen through a child's eye, which is a nice way of saying big, bumbling cartoons. The only people really explored on is Beau and Sumter, which makes sense, I suppose, since they're really the main focus points. As Sumter becomes more and more psycho, Beau is realistically torn--he is disgusted with his cousin's actions, but at the same time, he understands them. In a way, so do I, which I think is Clegg's greatest acheivment; there are no villains, even through the black-and-white perspective of Beau, and there are no heroes (but are there ever in horror?). Anyone whos been young, I think, can understand Sumter. There's that casual cruelty that all kids develop as protection against a world bigger and scarier then them, as well as the need for escape, no matter how frightening. Oftentimes, these observations were stunningly insightful, offering a clear view of how our enviroment effects our actions and how our actions effect our enviorment. So, good on you.

Clegg once again writes a novel about the loss of innocence through disturbing events with insight, vulgerity and straight up skills, man. I will definetly be keeping an eye on this guy, and ya'll should too (try to ignore the incoherency of this review).

Rating: 8 out of 10--leaning heavily towards a 9, but the beginning kind of lagged.


Anonymous said...

Great review! This sounds like an intense book, and the references to Peter Pan are a great plus. I'll definitely have to check this one out.

Clarence Carlyle said...

Nicely reviewed. Came to your site while looking for reviews on the books that we are looking forward to keep in our office library.

Being an avid reader, I think the world of books is the most remarkable creation of man. Nothing else that he builds ever lasts except books. In their world, there are volumes that have seen this happen again and again and yet live on, still young, still as fresh as the day they were written, still telling men's hearts of the heart of men centuries dead.


Stephanie aka The Stark Raving Bibliophile said...

It sounds like this author knocked it out of the ballpark with creating a mood and developing characters. I love the way you write.

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