*I received an ecopy of this book from the publisher. This has not influenced my review.*
Let me start by saying that I love Captain Hook. He’s one of my favorite characters. And this is the first Hook “prequel” that I’ve read, so I think I had certain expectations, which might be why I have somewhat mixed feelings about it, even though I did enjoy it in the end.
What I loved was how the author really accounted for everything in the original: the pirates and the Jolly Roger; Tinkerbell and the pixies; Peter and the Lost Boys; the natives; the Darlings; even the tick-tocking crocodile. He created some really good explanations behind these things, and he put some of his own spin on the story in some ways that I wasn’t expecting.
Along with that, I also enjoyed the plot and world-building and thought that, for the most part, it made a lot of sense how all these things connected and happened and led to what we already know of the Peter Pan tale, and it was fairly dark in some regards.
The pacing felt off though. The book was slow, yet it seemed liked the things in the book happened too quickly, or there were drastic changes in short periods of time. Then there were times when I was just really confused about how much time had passed.
I think one reason the book felt slow was because it had six POVs, not all of which seemed necessary. But I wonder now if I was mistaken in thinking this to be a series about Hook. It might be that this one was mostly about him, but the others will be more broadly about all the characters involved, in which case the many POVs make more sense. And the crocodile POV was actually pretty fun.
Something I’m not sure about: some of the characters were described as having red skin, which is a reference to the original, but I feel like that’s probably still offensive and could’ve been worded differently.
Now for the characters—and this is where I really have mixed feelings. Sometimes they were well-written (especially Mary and the whole situation with her and James’s dad), but occasionally something would irk me. Characters feelings towards other characters and things seemed like they were often changing, sometimes drastically. Sometimes characters would just be immature. But then, maybe things were, in fact, believable and just a part of those characters. Plenty of people in real life have immature moments or waver back and forth on their feelings.
Last but not least, James. He was pretty insufferable. That’s fair since Captain Hook is by no means a good person in the original, but I had been hoping for a more sympathetic version, so I wasn’t sure how I felt about that. Now that I’ve had some time to let the story marinate in my mind though, I feel like the author really did manage to capture his character and its different facets incredibly well by the end of the book. It’s not a sympathetic portrayal, but it feels like an accurate one, and I can definitely appreciate that.
Overall, though I had some issues, I didn’t have any strong dislikes. The author created an interesting and creative backstory to the island of Neverland and everything on it and really captured the essence of Hook (albeit before he was known as Hook). I’m looking forward to continuing this series, and I’m curious to see how the character of Peter will be portrayed and where the story will go next!
Anyone who likes Peter Pan retellings, retellings that really focus on the characters, and somewhat dark stories.