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Blog Tour Review - Service Model by Adrian Tchaikovsky

Blog Tour Review - Service Model by Adrian Tchaikovsky To fix the world they first must break it further. Humanity is a dying breed, utterly reliant on artificial labor and service. When a domesticated robot gets a nasty little idea downloaded into their core programming, they murder their owner. The robot then discovers they can also do something else they never did before: run away. After fleeing the household, they enter a wider world they never knew existed, where the age-old hierarchy of humans at the top is disintegrating, and a robot ecosystem devoted to human wellbeing is finding a new purpose. There is so much to love in Service Model, but one of the things I most love about it is the peculiar blend of charming innocence and insightful cynicism. Uncharles the domestic robot is such a simple soul (though he would state that he has no soul and this is an inaccurate description). He approaches the end of the world with optimism and hope, or whatever equivalent to these emotions h

Review - Saving Neverland by Abi Elphinstone

Review - Saving Neverland by Abi Elphinstone

Number 14 Darlington Road, looks like a perfectly ordinary townhouse - at first glance, anyway, but magic is good at hiding . . . when it's waiting for the right person to discover it . . .

Martha Pennydrop is ten, and desperate to grow up. But growing up is a tricky business. It means turning your back on imagination, fun and magic, because those were the things that led to the Terrible Day when something awful nearly happened to Martha's younger brother, Scruff, which would have been All Her Fault.

But when Martha and Scruff discover a drawer full of mysterious gold dust in the bedroom of their new house - along with a window that's seemingly impossible to close - it's the start of an incredible adventure to a magical world: Neverland! The Pennydrop's new house used to belong to another family - the Darlings - who once visited this world themselves. Now Peter Pan is back, and in need of their help. Neverland is in the icy grip of a terrible curse - cast long ago by Captain Hook. And only Martha and Scruff can save it . . .

A reluctant Martha and excited Scruff are swept off to Neverland and into the company of the Lost Kids. But when Scruff is kidnapped, Martha must rediscover all the imagination, magic and belief she has buried deep inside herself for so long, to save him - and Neverland itself.

The art by Geraldine Rodriguez is so gorgeous!

Saving Neverland...

In which Abi Elphinstone moves into Neverland and makes it her own.

Saving Neverland is utterly adorable, and incredibly magical, with some important real world issues applied with a careful and gentle touch.

It's undeniably an Elphinstone book, bearing stylistic similarities to Abi's Unmapped Chronicles series. This is an adventure that is huge enough to fit in snowtigers, frostbears and icesharks, a Neverbird and a Naggletree. There are trees that grow compliments and snowflakes that come from secrets never told. It's incredibly imaginative and beautifully magical. And though at times it does feel more like the unmapped kingdoms than J.M. Barrie's Neverland, well, it really did need an update in line with modern sensibilities. 

Two of Barrie's characters with a large presence in Saving Neverland are Peter Pan and Captain Hook. Pan is as arrogant, proud and fickle as ever, though there are some fascinating sections of the book that just tugs at the question of why he's like that. He feels more real for it, as we see that behind that boastful exterior and endlessly playful manner there might just be a hurt little boy. There's no such introspection for Captain Hook, who looms over the adventure with a terrible curse and a threat to return from the dead and bring his pirate crew, some of them with the most spectacularly hilarious names, with him. He's a terrifying villain and as he gets closer and closer to returning the level of peril definitely rises!

Saving Neverland is a story about believing in magic and adventures, about that child-like thrill of heading off to see what wonder and marvels you can uncover. For Peter Pan, life is all about adventure and excitement and that enthusiasm is quite infectious! Even as the peril deepens, it all feels fun and exciting and thrilling!

But it is also a story about growing older, and this is where the real beauty of the story comes from. Martha is an absolutely gorgeous character, and I really felt for her. With just her dad to look after her and her seven year old brother, Scruff, there's just been so much pressure put on poor Martha. The only way she can see to cope with it is to grow up, and to stop doing the things children do. No more games or sweets or bedtime stories or hugs. It is honestly so tragic, but she sees no option but to take on the responsibilities of adulthood at the tender age of ten. It takes all of the magic in Neverland to help fix Martha, and her journey through the story, not just across mermaid lagoons and mountain ranges but her personal journey is truly beautiful and emotional and important. We all grow older (except Peter Pan) but we don't always have to grow up. 

So the only option is to embrace the magic of this gorgeous book, and grow down instead, or at least sideways, and to make sure we never forget the wonder and excitement of childhood adventure.

I did absolutely love the way Martha gave as good as she got from Peter Pan too. He can be a little sexist, that boy who never grows up, and it was so refreshing seeing him getting called out for it by such a strong and determined female character, who was there to save the day, or at least save her brother, not to darn his socks or spring clean his den! Her little jibes at him were lovely little pricks at the bubble that is his ego, even though it was clear just how much she cared for him. It's so clever of Abi to give us a main character who is at the same time a determined adventurer, explorer, rescuer and riddle solver and who also has such a strong maternal streak. 

Scruff, her young brother, is to perfect compliment to Martha, always there to remind her that she needs to have more fun and magic and adventure in her life, but also giving her someone to care for and protect. Also his teddy bear, None-The-Wiser, somehow manages to steal every scene he's in without ever doing a thing!

My proof copy had some illustrations in by Geraldine Rodriguez.. Many of them were labelled as unfinished, but they are looking seriously cute! I'm excited to see finished editions.

A gorgeous book about the dangers of growing up and the importance of adventure. Saving Neverland is a clever and well-crafted update of the classic Peter Pan.


Saving Neverland by Abi Elphinstone is published on 5th January 2023 by Puffin Books.

I was given a review copy via Netgalley and from the publisher in return for an honest review.


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