invisible featured image

Book Review: Peter Pan by J. M. Barrie

Book Review: Peter Pan by J. M. BarriePeter Pan by J. M. Barrie
Published: 1911
Format: eBook (176 pages)
Genres: Classic, Fairy Tale
Source: Purchased

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.
4 Stars

Right away I fell in love with the writing.  It was fascinating with it’s deep thoughts one minute, biting sarcasm the next and some very amusing honesty.  It’s visual, easy to imagine and I could tell that it was a play first before this novelization came out.  And the voice was just bursting with personality.  A charming example:

If she was too fond of her rubbishy children she couldn’t help it.

– J. M. Barrie, Peter and Wendy (p. 131)

The whole story is this beautiful blend of imagination and reality.  I was a little surprised at how similar the plot was to the Disney version.  Disney usually chops those stories up until you can barely recognize them.  Although the plot is technically the same, the book had a slightly darker tone than the Disney version.  And I had to smile at the few unexpected Shakespeare references.

A theme that kept popping up was that children are carefree, innocent, and happy yet heartless.  In a way they can’t leave the bad qualities behind without growing up and losing the good ones, too.  The fact that Wendy stays away so long is because all children are completely confident that they can do whatever they want and they will still be loved.  They are cocky in a way, like Peter.  Another thing I found kind of shocking was the casual way in which they talked about killing on Neverland like it was some sort of game. Another example of heartless children.  I also found it interesting that most of their make-believe games in Neverland were pretending to do adult things in an innocent and unexperienced way.  It’s a harsh truth of childhood that they really can’t tell the difference between reality and imagination.  Peter has nightmares that trouble him a lot mostly because they feel real to him.  What struck me the most was how brutally honest this book was about childhood.  As adults, we tend to forget all the bad things we’ve grown out of and glorify all the good things we miss.  It’s bittersweet to look at childhood the way it really is because not all of it is pretty.

Tinker Bell’s character was quite saucy, naughty and highly entertaining.  She mostly swore which I found kind of funny.

Overall, it was a beautifully written story about childhood so full of personality that it truly captured my imagination.

Content Rating: Mild, for some swearing. (Mostly the word a** coming from Tinker Bell occasionally).

About J. M. Barrie

JM Barrie

Sir James Matthew Barrie, 1st Baronet, OM (9 May 1860 – 19 June 1937) was a Scottish author and dramatist, best remembered today as the creator of Peter Pan. The child of a family of small-town weavers, he was educated in Scotland. He moved to London, where he developed a career as a novelist and playwright. There he met the Llewelyn Davies boys who inspired him in writing about a baby boy who has magical adventures in Kensington Gardens (included in The Little White Bird), then to write Peter Pan, or The Boy Who Wouldn't Grow Up, a "fairy play" about this ageless boy and an ordinary girl named Wendy who have adventures in the fantasy setting of Neverland. This play quickly overshadowed his previous work and although he continued to write successfully, it became his best-known work, credited with popularising the name Wendy, which was very uncommon previously. Barrie unofficially adopted the Davies boys following the deaths of their parents. Before his death, he gave the rights to the Peter Pan works to Great Ormond Street Hospital, which continues to benefit from them.


  1. melissa @ 1lbr says:

    Interesting! I’ve always meant to read Peter Pan, just never got around to it yet. Sounds like Disney definitely tweaked Tinker Bell :)

  2. I read this several years ago and was struck by how unDisney some of it was – like the killing (as you mentioned). The author didn’t sugar coat the whimsical and sometimes cruel nature of children.

  3. Jen K Jovus says:

    I’ve always wanted to read this book because I have enjoyed the movie’s so much. I’m sure I will enjoy it now. :)

  4. Tinkerbell swears? I’ve loved every screen version of Peter Pan (yes, even the cheesy ones, even Hook) that I’ve seen. one of these days I need to read the original. especially if there is goofy swearing.

    • Yes! The only thing she practically ever says through the book is “You silly ass.” I mean it’s not bad swearing, but still….hilarious. Did you ever watch that movie play version where Peter Pan is a grown woman? And I think it’s a musical ?? I used to watch that one growing up. Loved Hook too!

  5. I thought it was funny that Tink was jealous and I like it when she was swearing. I also agree about the killing: they made it look so easy and normal.

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *

You may use these HTML tags and attributes: <a href="" title=""> <abbr title=""> <acronym title=""> <b> <blockquote cite=""> <cite> <code> <del datetime=""> <em> <i> <q cite=""> <s> <strike> <strong>