Unhooked by Lisa Maxwell Book Review

Unhooked by Lisa Maxwell
Publisher: Simon Pulse
Release Date: February 2, 2016

All of Gwen's life, she and her mother have moved from place to place, never calling one place home. Her mother believes they are being hunted by monsters. Gwen just wants to be normal. Now these delusions have brought them to London and Gwen is going to have to start over again. Her only salvation is her best friend Olivia who has agreed to come with her for the summer and help her acclimate. Gwen is thankful, but also a bit sad because it means Olivia will eventually leave and is sure to discover how crazy her mom really is.

Then one night, after dousing the strange oil lamps in their new home, Olivia and Gwen are kidnapped by shadow creatures. Gwen realizes rather suddenly that her mother was never crazy. They are both taken far away, to a place of fairy tales and stories. Neverland. Here, good and evil lose their meaning just like memories, slipping between her fingers. As Gwen struggles to remember who she is, she must also face the characters from stories who blur the lines of right and wrong.

Since 2008 when the copyright ran out for Peter Pan and it became public domain, authors have been trying to rework and rewrite the story of the boy who doesn't grow up. Most, in my opinion, have been mediocre attemps as the authors completely ignore the originally source material, trying to reboot the story as if the first didn't exist. So far Peter Pan has been a servant of the Deviltree who sacrifices children to it, a thief, a pirate caught up on a quest, a dark elf, a changeling, and murderer. Peter has, in essence, become the villain and Hook is now the romantic pirate that is secretly good. The television show, Once Upon a Time is thriving on this role reversal.

Although this book certainly attempts to rework the story complete with role reversals, what I loved about it was that it did not forget its source material. One of the main issues with Neverland in the original book is that Neverland makes you forget. Peter Pan has the memory of a gnat and the children forget about their parents for a long time. None of the Lost Boys even remembers their parents. Wendy, John, and Michael were gone so long that their parents hair had begun to turn gray. When Gwen arrives in Neverland she completely forgets about Olivia. Completely. It takes days before she even recalls her home and her friend and begins to worry. And Olivia? She remembers nothing, which tells us that there must be something special about Gwen.

Hook is, of course, the roguish pirate love interest and although it was not surprising, I liked him all the same. I liked that this twisted world had forced him to become hardened and cautious. He gives Gwen very little leeway in the beginning and as you learn more about this world, you see why. As I have always loved Peter Pan, I am a bit sad that he is often the villain now, but within this story it worked well.

Downside of the book was it's predictable nature and the strange chapter openers. Throughout the book were these one paragraph chapter openers that were meant to give us the backstory of one of the main characters and I found them to be confusing in the beginning and boring throughout. I wanted to like them, but felt like they did nothing to add to that character or the story that one paragraph towards the end would have accomplished.

On the whole though, I enjoyed a new twist o a classic story and am looking forward to a second installment.