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Thursday, January 28, 2016

*Grabby Hands* Release & Review - Unhooked by Lisa Maxwell

Image  and blurb from Goodreads

Title: Unhooked 
Release date:  February 2nd, 2016
Author: Lisa Maxwell
Simon Pulse

About the book:

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?

My thoughts:

ARC via NetGalley- THANK YOU, Simon Pulse!

4 "Hook is way better than Pan" STARS

Pretty much everyone is familiar at some level with Peter Pan's story, right? I can't say I'm a big fan, but I have the basics figured out: Peter Pan is the good guy and Captain Hook isn't. That was the clear image in my head until I started watching a TV show called "Once Upon a Time" that added a nice twist to the story, bringing Colin O'Donoghue as a not so evil Hook -- and damn hot one. 

Don't believe me? Here:

So, yeah, I came into this book expecting something like that. Sure Colin doesn't look like a YA hero, but you get the picture.

Anyway... Unhooked tells a "Peter Pan x Captain Hook" tale where separating good from evil seems much harder for the main character, Gwen, than she expected.

Taken from her room – and the human world – alongside her best friend, Gwen is forced to face her fears in a place that up to that moment was only part of a fairy tales. And as if being stuck in Neverland isn't crazy enough, she doesn't even know whether she can believe the story she heard as a child. The fairies aren’t good beings made of light. Peter Pan may not be the good, innocent soul. And Captain Hook... Oh, he’s way too young, sexy and loves his crew way too much to be the villain of the story. I can’t even consider that a spoiler, because pretty soon the reader realizes he truly isn’t.

My only problem is that it takes Gwen forever to understand that too.

The author wrote a dark and action-packed story, twisting a classic fairy tale into something different and exciting, and for that I’m thankful. But I have to be a 100% honest here and say I wanted to slap her main character half of the time. Seriously. Gwen truly pissed me off.

In all fairness, if I analyze Gwen’s actions and reactions taking only logic into consideration, her delay in putting the pieces together made sense. She’d dealt with a paranoid mother all her life, and she didn’t want to be like her. Plus, as every other human child, she’d been introduced to the classic Peter Pan story, in which Pan was the good guy. But when I’m reading a book, I’m all emotion (and I'll never apologize for that), so it was extremely hard to see past the cloud of emotion and understand Gwen’s motive for reacting to what was happening around her the way she did.

She kept doubting herself and twisting everyone’s motivation when the truth was out there to be seen. All she had to do was open her damn eyes. She drew conclusions based on nothing but her fears or preconceptions. She trusted the wrong people even after more than one character had warned her against it. Even when faced with evidence, it took her more than long enough to see through lies.

But while Gwen’s interactions with Peter Pan were pretty painful to me as a reader, her time with Hook brought out the best version of her. Rowan, a.k.a the young and sexy Captain Hook, always managed to make Gwen a stronger character. She was more confident around him. Sharper.  Even sassier. All traits I admire and look for in leading ladies. Those were the moments that kept me hooked – pun intended.

Another positive was the world building. Lisa Maxwell knows what she’s doing. I knew that from the first paragraph. Her description of a rainy London evening was just as breathtaking as the way she used words to bring Neverland to life. *claps*

Now, as to the ending, I can’t say I approve. I won’t say much because I don’t want to spoiler it, but I felt Gwen’s decision didn’t really fit her evolution as a character. Instead of showing a selfless young girl, willing to make a sacrifice to save many lives, as the story was leading me to believe, Gwen left me with the impression that she did what she thought was best for her and one other character without considering anyone else. Although most will consider it a happy ending, I won’t be one of them.

Overall, this was an exciting fairy tale retelling that will keep the 2015 fever for the genre (and what an exceptional year for that it was) burning.

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