This month I participated in my first ever Group Read with the awesome folks over at Not Your Mama’s Book Club (check them out on Instagram: @notyourmamasbookclub). And what an outstanding experience it was! I’ll have a separate blog post about it a little later, so stay tuned for that 😉
June’s book was Unhooked by Lisa Maxwell – a Peter Pan re-telling that took J.M. Barrie’s fairy tale (is Peter Pan a fairy tale?) and turned it on its head. In a good way. …I think. …Read on for my spoiler-free review.
YA Fantasy! Obviously my favorite genre EVER. Unhooked has most of the classic aspects you’d expect from Peter Pan and fantasy in general – magic of sorts, supernatural beings, epic and dangerous adventures, new and uncharted territories, etc. And flying and fairies, because OF COURSE!
I maintain that there really is no one primary age group for most YA books and Unhooked is no exception. It’s suitable for all ages. And fans of Peter Pan. Although, for hardcore fans, any re-telling can be hit or miss. I mean, I don’t think I’d be too thrilled if someone chose to rewrite Harry Potter…*shudder* I don’t think I’d even be able to read it… So! If you DO choose to read Unhooked, just try to keep an open mind.
Gwendolyn Allister and her mother have constantly been on the move, running from what Gwen’s mother believes to be monsters. When Gwen finally feels like they’ve settled down long enough for her to build a life and have a place to call home, they’re on the move yet again; this time finding themselves in London with Gwen’s best friend, Olivia, along for the ride. Just as Gwen prepares to take a stand and rebel against her mother’s superstitions, she’s thrust into a world that makes her question everything she’s ever known. A world with mystical creatures, fairies, and lost boys. A world with a flying hero and a pirate. But this Neverland is far more dangerous than in the stories and Gwen must choose her friends wisely if she wants to survive.
Maxwell painted a fascinating picture of Neverland, quite literally giving it a life of its own. This was definitely not Disney’s Neverland.
In that same regard, Maxwell’s take on the main characters was refreshing and distinctive, often blurring the line between protagonist and antagonist. We were also introduced to a pretty sundry cast of side characters, which livened things up a bit.
What I Liked
Unhooked was intriguing and unique. There were enough twists and turns to keep things fresh and relatively interesting, while simultaneously maintaining the telltale Peter Pan signs that made it recognizable for what it was.
The main things that stood out for me were the style and pre-chapter paragraphs. I think the writing style captured Gwen’s perspectives and personality. But! I’ve read some reviews that thought it came across as too choppy and truncated – so there you go! A clear example of the diverse opinions and tastes we readers have 🙂
Maxwell also included little paragraphs at the start of each chapter, which I thought was not only really cool, but also very helpful as an attention-grabber – little clues and hints, if you will, as to the potential backstory. I say “potential” because it really became a mystery in and of itself. Who is it about? Is it metaphorical?? What does it mean??? You’ll have to keep reading to find out. (The book that is – not this blog post. But by all means, please keep reading this blog post.) 😛
What I Liked A Little Less
Unfortunately, there were quite a few things that fell into this category; mainly the romance, relationships, and plot holes. …Wow… I just read that sentence again and I make it sound really bad. I mean – romance, relationships, and plot… that’s basically the entire book. Really, though, guys; it’s not that bad. If someone asked me right here and now, “Hey D, how was that Peter Pan book you just read?” My response would be “It was okay” (shoulder shrug included). That’s it. I didn’t love it. I didn’t hate it. And here’s why-
In terms of the romance/relationships, I felt that everything came across as superficial. I don’t think the characters were given the room and time they needed to display a believable amount of chemistry – platonic, romantic, or otherwise. As a result, they seemed to fall flat and it was hard for me to buy in to and root for any of the relationships. With that being said, I feel it’s important to mention that I was still rooting for one character in particular. I won’t say who ;P But I’m sure you can guess.
I also felt that there were quite a few pieces missing. I’m not sure they’d be considered “plot holes” exactly, but whatever they were I kept hoping that they’d be resolved at the book’s conclusion. They weren’t. And that left me feeling like these tidbits (which were totally intriguing!) were merely dropped in as fillers so that the primary premise could work itself out.
Perhaps if this book was spaced out into a series, rather than a stand-alone novel, there would have been more of an opportunity to work out any growing pains and really fill in all those enticing blanks. (Can blanks be enticing? Yes. Yes, they can.)
Overall, I’d give Unhooked 3/5 stars. Again, didn’t love it, didn’t hate it.