Book Review: Peter Pan

I loved the movie, the plays, the musicals, and the innumerable spin-offs of Peter Pan by J.M. Barrie, so I was FLIPPING EXCITED to finally get the audiobook from the library. It was going to be magical and imaginative and neverlandish and full of mermaids and fairies and pirates…

Book Review: Peter PanPeter Pan by J.M. Barrie, Michael Hague
Published by Henry Holt and Co. on October 1st 2003
Genres: Children's Classic, Classic Literature, Fantasy
Narrator: Roe Kendall
Length: 5 hours, 39 minutes
Format: Audiobook

Peter Pan, the book based on J.M. Barrie's famous play, is filled with unforgettable characters: Peter Pan, the boy who would not grow up; the fairy, Tinker Bell; the evil pirate, Captain Hook; and the three children--Wendy, John, and Michael--who fly off with Peter Pan to Neverland, where they meet Indians and pirates and a crocodile that ticks. Renowned children's-book artist Michael Hague has brought the amazing adventures of Peter Pan to life. His beautiful illustrations capture the wild, seductive power of this classic book. This newly designed edition will be enjoyed by fans young and old alike.

You can imagine my disappointment when I was bored, bored, and more bored by this book.

So let me start by telling what you what I did like about this book: The snarky-as-heck narrator. Loved the narration and the transparency about how the narrator is the one orchestrating the entire story. It was so very clever and wonderful!

But that was it.

Everything else bored me or annoyed me. Was it the audiobook? Was it because I’m so familiar with the story? Who knows, maybe? I mean, the movies/plays/musicals all follow the book very closely, so that could have been the issue. But then let’s talk about how horribly annoying Peter Pan is! Okay, I get that he’s supposed to be 8 or whatever, and I suppose he’s acting like a typical little kid (unlike Wendy who is wise beyond her years). BUT OMG ANNOYING JUST STOP TALKING PETER. And Tinkerbell is such a brat (I have much more adult words for her in my head, but I’m keeping this G-rated). If I had a dime for every time she called Peter a “Silly ass” I’d probably have a dollar (For the record: that’s 9 times too many).

Anyway, I hated it and almost didn’t finish it. But I persevered through the 5-hour audiobook, and here I am writing the review. I will say that both copies of the book I own are quite beautiful, and I enjoyed taking photos of them much more than I enjoyed the story itself.


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I recognize I’m in the minority on this one.

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Have you read this? Please tell me you liked this more than I did. 

Get the beautiful illustrated and interactive edition: Amazon. The Book Depository.
Get the Puffin Classic edition: Amazon. The Book Depository.

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  1. I’m sorry that this book didn’t jive with you, but it makes sense if everything else follows the storyline so well. And this book has been adapted so many times in so many different ways. We already know everything. I’m still wanting to read this someday, but maybe I’ll hold off for awhile for other books.

    Great review 🙂

    1. I do wonder if that contributed to this one. Some audiobooks are awesome (for example – I’m listening to Anne of Green Gables right now and it’s AMAZING as an audiobook) and some are not so awesome. I can’t decide if the audiobook was the only contributing factor though? You should give one a try – it’s a great way to get more “reading” done while you’re doing stuff around the house 😀

  2. Aww it can definitely be disappointing when all of the adaptions of a classic, make the classic pale in comparison. I have not read Peter Pan but can live with that knowing its not somehow better then the derivatives!! Great Review!

    1. Thank you (: And yes, I think it’s hard any time you see a movie before you read the book – in general it makes the book harder to like I think. I suspect that may be been somewhat at play here!

  3. Oh no! I’ve never actually read the book before, but I adored the Disney movie adaptation when I was younger. I can see why it could be boring, though, especially if you know the story really well already! Great review 🙂

    1. I love the Disney movie, too! I wonder if the animated version gave the story so much magic and personality that when I settled down to the book my brain just expected an equivalent amount of magic. Ah well, at least I can still love all the other Peter Pan versions without loving the book (:

  4. I hate you didn’t like it! I haven’t read that actual story either, but it’s one of my favorite Disney movies. I always had a crush on Peter when I was little — it was weird. The book editions you have are stunning, though!
    PS) Tinkerbell has always been a brat though, am I right?

    1. Hahahah. I love that you crushed on Peter Pan. I definitely love the movie and all the other adaptations – and I think that’s what made the book so hard to like! Oh, and 100% agree about Tink – she’s such a brat!!!

  5. Oh no! I’m sorry you didn’t like it but I totally understand your reasons. I haven’t read it but I plan to because I love all things Peter Pan (it’s so bad I haven’t read the actual book!)

  6. Hi, Ali! I discovered your blog from Lauren’s spotlight on it. Anyway, I cracked up at your mentioning of Pan being annoying. I haven’t read this, but he’s always been an annoying turd in my head. That commercial he’s in at the reunion, that’s how I’ve always pictured him. lol. Too bad this was such a bore, though.

  7. I thought one of the audiobook versions was narrated by Anne Hathaway for some reason, or maybe I’m thinking of The Wizard of Oz. I loved this book reading it when I was a child, it was dreamy and imaginative with a villain you could boo. But it was after I seen the movie with Robin Williams and I went to revisit the book and it just didn’t feel the same. I think the movie was just so entertaining that the original now feels dull in comparison. I’m sorry you didn’t have a great time with this one Ali, are you planning on trying any other classics anytime soon?

    1. I think they just did an audiobook for Peter Pan narrated by Lily Collins. Anne Hathaway did do the Wizard of Oz recently (though I always wonder if it’d be weird to me to listen to her narrate the book, because I’d know it was her the entire time?). I definitely could see how a child would absolutely love this book – and if I ever have kids, I’m making them read the book before they see any movie! As far as classics go, I’m listening to Anne of Green Gables right now (I’m catching up on all the things I didn’t read in my childhood), and I am loving it SO MUCH! The narrator for that one is just perfect (:

  8. I don’t like the book that much either. This is coming from someone who likes the movie and musical (and is not completely in love with them), but there’s still something about the book itself I find off-putting. It’s been a while since I’ve read it, but it might have partially been the tone.