Apr 30, 2010: "Dylan and the Dream Pirates" is a charming story, rooted in the well-known Peter Pan’s mythology. The writer manages to create a fast-paced adventure story with engaging characters who spout clever witticisms like characters in a black and white movie—snappy banter is the order of the day. I picture teen Cary Grants and Jimmy Stewarts playing the Lost Boys, recreating punchy 1940s dialogues.
Contrasting with the Lost Boys is Dylan, a responsible young man grieving for his mother, who died of cancer. His maturity in the face of the Boys’ short attention spans certainly makes sense seen in that light. The boys mistake him for a Lost Boy named Trouble who has been missing for quite some times, and obvious clues (SPOILER) point to his father as the missing Peter Pan replacement.
Overall, it’s a good youth story, without the depth of an adult depiction. I can easily picture it as a movie, directed by Spielberg.
However, that’s also the story’s greatest short-coming. While the author certainly has talent in description, dialogue and characterization, the entire story is derivative of other common memes in our culture. Dylan’s favourite movie hero, Ty Conrad, has the same jokes as Chuck Norris—he doesn’t do push-ups, he pushes the earth down. The Lost Boys steal lines from movies like the Santa Clause (Believing is Seeing) and mythology from Pirates of the Caribbean. It’s difficult to get new plots from over-used bones, and I give the author credit for trying. However, I feel like it’s no different than watching Hook with my kids, because I’ve seen all this before.
Even the talking ship, the Tempest, is part of the old tradition of magical inanimate talking objects, though she works more like a logical (yet friendly) computer, such as Gay Deceiver in the works of Robert Heinlein. It’s a fun story, and an easy read, but there’s nothing here that makes me think something new is being added to the genre, or that there’s going to be some great allegorical meaning by the end.
It’s a great summer vacation book, and I’d recommend it to eleven and twelve year olds who enjoyed being pirates, cowboys and ninjas—however, I don’t know how many twelve year olds there are that still subscribe to the simple joys of my own childhood. I’d have loved this when I was twelve.
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