Unhooked by Lisa Maxwell
Published on February 2, 2016
Genre: Young Adult, Fairytale Retelling, Fantasy
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?
I had this book extremely hyped up in my mind. I really enjoyed the story, but there were a few parts that irked me. I’m a huge Peter Pan fan girl and this one just seemed completely up my alley. Unhooked was my first read by the author, and boy did she deliver. I tend to get confused a lot in fantasy novels as to what’s going on, but Maxwell did such an amazing job at accurately describing the scene we’re in, but also staying in the story and keeping it alive. She turned Neverland, that is normally seen as fun, light and inviting into a dark, mysterious and sometimes scary place.
The story starts off with Gwen and her mom moving for what seems like the millionth time to a sketchy flat in London. Gwen’s best friend, Olivia, accompanies them on the move to stay for a few weeks to help them get settled in. That first night they are there, Gwen and Olivia are kidnapped by strange, dark monsters. We spend the beginning of the book with Gwen, who ends up on the ship of a sexy pirate and his crew. She’s trying to figure out where she is, who to trust and where Olivia disappeared off to.
I enjoyed Gwen as a main character at first, but she started to annoy the crap out of me towards the end of the novel. I felt like she was a bit dense and not fully understanding everything that was happening. In this story, Maxwell addressed that the characters know about the Peter Pan fairytale, and used it as a disadvantage against them. I understand that that played a part in Gwen being undeceive, but it still annoyed me all the same. It shouldn’t have taken Gwen as long as it did for her to comprehend who was the villain in this story. I also felt like Olivia was a complete waste. She was under Pan’s spell 95% of the book, which made her completely unrelatable, but also a character I didn’t enjoy in the least. Gwen was so focused on saving her friend, which is great, don’t get me wrong, but it was clouding her judgement on what will keep her safe and get her out of Neverland.
Captain Hook, who goes by Rowan in this novel, was undeniably swoon-worthy. You’re unsure throughout the book whether he could be trusted, but you never doubted how insanely hot he was, regardless. One thing that did bother me was his power over Gwen. It felt like she couldn’t make any decisions on her own without his permission first. Granted, this also could just be a flaw in Gwen’s character entirely.
“In this world, though, desire is a bit more dangerous. In this world, lass, more often that not – it consumes.”
As with Rowan, you spend a good bit of the novel trying to decide if Pan is the good guy. He was such a charming character when you first meet him that it took a little over half way through the story to realize how much of a complete douche Pan is. I had no connections with him at all as a character, besides the fact that I just wanted him to die already. He had little logic to his motives at all, besides just wanting to rule Neverland out of greed. Pan’s only logical advantage was he used his good guy persona in the fairytale to help him gain trust with the people who find their way to Neverland.
One thing I really enjoyed was the mini-story that appeared at the top of beginning of each chapter. You find out towards the end of the book who the story is about, but it’s such a dark story about war and loss. It really helped one of the characters in the story have more depth and development, which really helped me enjoy the character in the end.
Overall, I did enjoy this story. This was my first Peter Pan retelling and it has me wanting to pick up more in the future. I really enjoyed Maxwell’s writing and story-telling and amm looking forward to reading more of her books in the future.