Tuesday, 12 April 2016

Is Captain Hook the good guy? | Unhooked

Unhooked by Lisa Maxwell

Published: February 2nd 2016 by Simon Pulse
Genre: young adult, fantasy, retelling

Goodreads summary: For as long as she can remember, Gwendolyn Allister has never had a place to call home—all because her mother believes that monsters are hunting them. Now these delusions have brought them to London, far from the life Gwen had finally started to build for herself. The only saving grace is her best friend, Olivia, who’s coming with them for the summer.

But when Gwen and Olivia are kidnapped by shadowy creatures and taken to a world of flesh-eating sea hags and dangerous Fey, Gwen realizes her mom might have been sane all along.

The world Gwen finds herself in is called Neverland, yet it’s nothing like the stories. Here, good and evil lose their meaning and memories slip like water through her fingers. As Gwen struggles to remember where she came from and find a way home, she must choose between trusting the charming fairy-tale hero who says all the right things and the roguish young pirate who promises to keep her safe.

With time running out and her enemies closing in, Gwen is forced to face the truths she’s been hiding from all along. But will she be able to save Neverland without losing herself?


In my opinion, this book took a long time to start. The first chapter hadn’t compelled me into the story, so I put the book aside for a few days. Even when I picked it up again, it didn’t really grasp my attention and I only continued reading because I was in the train to go home. Most of this book was slow paced and when things started to be resolved, it made me care less, because I had been expecting for so long. Still, it was a good retelling and I really enjoyed the choice Lisa Maxwell made.

Here, Neverland was a dark place –which seems to be a trend when books are set there and it’s logical- and I really liked the way the author rebuilt it. Here, J.M. Barrie’s Peter Pan had been written and the characters knew about it, but the world was different. The author created a story where she explained how Peter Pan came to be in control of the island and how the legend about him and Captain Hook was created. But, I had a problem with Captain Hook: the author made him come from a certain era, but Peter Pan was actually written before, in 1911, so I didn’t really get it. Was there a Captain Hook before the one we saw? Despite this inconstancy, this world was rich and had a darker folklore that what we could expect from Barrie’s book, like he had sugar-coated it. I could actually feel like I was in Neverland! Of course, it involved faeries a lot, which I quite enjoyed, since it’s been awhile since I read about them. But well, nothing to do with Disney’s Tinkerbell. 

 The main character, Gwendolyn, was hard for me to care about. She seemed, at first, like this typical “on the run because of secrets she doesn’t know” character and I don’t really like this trope. Still, she was determined to save those she loved and she was brave, even though she had been thrown into this unknown world. Moreover, she evolved a lot during the book, because it was about embracing who she was.

Unhooked also focused a lot… On Captain Hook, obviously. Well, here he was called Rowan, but that’s the same thing. The beginning of each chapter was an extract from his story before he came to Neverland, which allowed me to learn about him a little more. I think his character was a different take from what we usually see, which surprised me. I think I liked his character best and he had an accent, so yes. The story about his arm was set before he even came to Neverland. It was also explained how he could stay there, when he came from another land and had been there for a while… I think he had an amazing backstory that the author revealed fully in the last third of the book, which must have been one of my favourite aspects of the story. 

I didn’t think the secondary characters were this important… It was a lot about Olivia, but her apparitions felt repetitive, unfortunately. Among Rowan’s crew, I only remember one name, the others weren’t memorable. Peter Pan was more introduced as an antagonist, which I really enjoyed here, because he had a realistic reason to be so. I wasn’t surprised about it though, because it seems to be the trend of the last few years, for example in Once Upon A Time. As always, it’s a question of perspective in thinking who is the villain and who is the hero.

There was a romance between some characters, which I expected but didn’t find overly cute. I think it was also because of the circumstances the characters had found themselves in. It wasn’t a big part of the plot anyway; it was just “there”. 

Even if for the most part, I found this book to be slow paced, which decreased my interest into the story a lot, I was satisfied by the ending. Moreover, it didn’t feel like a happy end, it was on the bittersweet side, which felt more realistic. It was also a reflexion about human nature, because we choose what we remember… The author wanted to give her readers a message, and I think she succeeded in doing so. Unfortunately, I don’t know if this book will be a memorable read for me.

Have you read this one yet? Tell me your thoughts about it? Do you love books set in Neverland?

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