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Literature / Lost Girls

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"What is it you want? What is it you truly want? Because you'd better be careful what you ask for. In Neverland wishes are granted in very strange ways."

A Young Adult novella-length feminist spin on Peter Pan, featured in the short story anthology Twelve Impossible Things Before Breakfast. It deconstructs the gender roles present in the original Peter Pan with a heavy dose of metaphor.

Darla is a girl who is upset at the chauvinistic undertones of the original Peter Pan. She dreams that Peter Pan spirits her away to Neverland and discovers that the hierarchy of the Lost Boys and Lost Girls is based upon oppression. With forces from both sides opposing her, she does her best to change the way that things have always been done.

Written by Jane Yolen and winner of the 1998 Nebula Award.

If you are looking for the television series, see Lost Girl. It should also not be confused with the graphic novel of the same title by Alan Moore and Melinda Gebbie, which also features Wendy Darling and is also a deconstruction of its source material but is very definitely not intended for a young adult audience.

This work contains examples of:

  • Abusive Parents: Darla has perfectly normal parents, but many of the Lost Girls had fathers that beat them or mothers that left them.
  • Action Girl: JoAnne, who when threatened with the idea of facing murderous pirates, gleefully picks up a knife and rushes off towards them. She gives Smee a good stab and is the only girl who actually gets a hit in on a pirate.
  • Adaptational Wimp: Wendy goes from a Silk Hiding Steel Parental Substitute to a stern matron that believes serving Peter is the best thing, and that the girls don't need to go on adventures. Wendy also did participate in some adventures in the original Peter Pan, just not a lot of them.
  • A Kind of One: Invoked by the Lost Boys. Girls (who used to be completely absent from Neverland) are referred to as "Wendys" because the very first girl in Neverland is named Wendy and none of them can be bothered to remember the actual names of all the other girls.
  • Alternative Character Interpretation:invoked The entire novella is a Alternative Character Interpretation Deconstruction of the characters from Peter Pan.
  • Be Careful What You Wish For:
    • The story starts because Darla complains about how Peter and the Lost Boys get to have the fun while Wendy has to Stay in the Kitchen. In this story, she goes to Neverland and chases the gender rules by getting all the "Wendy" girls to run away with the pirates.
    • Peter cautions Darla against this when she tries to win equal rights for the Lost Girls.
      "What is it you want? What is it you truly want? Because you'd better be careful what you ask for. In Neverland wishes are granted in very strange ways."
  • Deconstruction: Of Peter Pan, of course.
  • Does This Remind You of Anything?: Hoo boy...
    • Peter is the head of the Lost Boys who wants to use the Lost Girls as a workforce for the most undesirable tasks. However he does not want to acknowledge them as individuals or to give them equal status and a fair share of the reward. On top of that he does not care for their welfare, viewing them as easily replaceable.
    • Wendy is "original" Lost Girl who believes that women have it good as it is and that any changes are self-destructive and for the worse.
    • The striking "Wendys" have a sign that reads, "EQUAL PLAY FOR EQUAL WORK".
  • Faux Affably Evil: Peter. To elaborate:
    Darla wiped her eyes, and spoke right to Peter. "My name is not Wendy," she said clearly. "It's Darla."
    Peter looked at her, and there was nothing nice or laughing or young about his eyes. They were dark and cold and very very old.
    Darla shivered.
    "Here you're a Wendy," he said.
  • Never Grew Up: Considering that Lost Girls is essentially fanfiction of the Trope Namer, this is naturally a trope present in the work.
  • Not Evil, Just Misunderstood: Captain Hook and the pirates.
  • Older Than They Look: All of the Lost Girls other than Darla (a recent arrival to Neverland).
  • Or Was It a Dream?: The bulk of the adventure happens after Darla goes to sleep, but several times she points out things that normally don't happen in dreams. At the end she wakes up with one of the Lost Girls sleeping in her room, conclusively proving that it *wasn't* a dream after all.
  • The Pirates Who Don't Do Anything: Captain Hook and his gang, much like in the original.
  • Really 700 Years Old: The Lost Girls and Lost Boys tread a thin line between being Really 700 Years Old and Older Than They Look. No one grows up or ages in Neverland, but the majority of the children were taken from the real world within the last century. Technically everyone is immortal as long as they don't leave Neverland. Peter is at least a century old and creepily, seems very aware of it.
  • Real Men Hate Sugar: Inverted; Darla hates all the greasy sugary foods that Peter insists they eat.
  • Recycled In Space: Peter Pan, Recycled With FEMINISM!
  • Self-Insert: In-universe with Darla entering the world of Peter Pan after objecting to the implicit message of the story.
  • Sociopathic Hero: The original portrayal of Peter as kind of a Sociopathic Hero is subverted. In Lost Girls he's more of a Villain with Good Publicity, manipulating all the sheeplike Lost Boys and Lost Girls into doing what he wants them to with a casual disregard for their happiness, individuality or safety.