***Disclaimer: I received an ARC of this in exchange for an honest review, but the views held are my own.***
Maybe growing up isn’t letting your soul die but entering another adventure. – Kara Swanson, Dust
Who else grew up adoring Peter Pan? I seldom watch movies more than once or twice in a row, but I watched Peter Pan about a thousand times as a kid. I adored J.M. Barrie’s tale and loved the whimsicalness of Neverland. Peter Pan was probably one of my first introductions to fantasy, and as a result, that story has shaped how I’ve viewed the genre.
I am pleased to say Dust well exceeded my expectations. There are so many things I love, and I will try to write them all down without giving anything about the story away.
First, let’s talk about Peter Pan. Wow. He was, by far, the most intricate character in this novel (though all the characters are beautifully done) and the depth to him was astounding. Kara Swanson took what we all know and love about Peter—his childish hatred of growing up—and turned it into a wonderfully awful flaw he desperately needed to grow out of if he wanted to save Neverland. He’s made mistakes, and his determination to ignore those mistakes is one of my favorite things.
Claire is amazing. I think there are so many female leads out there who are so busy kicking butt that they forget to… be human. Claire is raw and scared but also strong and fierce. She’s just a normal girl with magic she doesn’t understand, and I think that is what makes this story so powerful. I love a good narrator who doesn’t completely trust herself. Her fear of her magic—and her insecurities—is something you don’t often see, and it added another layer to this tale.
I also want to say how thoughtfully done her diagnosis backstory was done. As a chronic illness sufferer, reading about a character who struggled to find answers about an ‘illness’ she suffered from hit me hard and made her so very relatable.
Right there with Claire, Tiger Lily is a different kind of female lead who is equally vulnerable. I love a good female friendship, which is so often neglected, and Claire and Lily’s friendship is honestly so wholesome and just what I needed when I sat down to read this. They’re two different kinds of heroes, but neither one ever belittles the other for their vulnerabilities or shortcomings. There is no jealousy toward their different relationships with Peter, and I am here for it.
Hook was a brilliant character, too, because, quite frankly, I never knew whether or not he was the villain or a friend trying to help, right up to the end. He was nothing like I’d imagined Hook would be, and I think the mystery of his character is well-done and well-written.
This story, to me, felt very character-driven, but the plot was intricately woven and unfolded beautifully. I was hanging onto every word in the novel, waiting for the story to unfold. I have been left, anxiously awaiting the release of Shadow, and Dust isn’t even out yet!
I would have loved to see more suspense/tension. However, this did not detract from my enjoyability of the novel, and quite frankly I highly recommend taking a plane to London and learning to fly with Peter, Lily, and Claire.
Who knows, you might even find some pixies along the way…