I have mixed feelings about this book. On the one hand, this was the second Peter Pan retelling I’ve read that focuses on Captain Hook, and it was exactly the kind I’ve always wanted, one that is based on the book rather than the Disney movie and that doesn’t ignore the dark, terrifying aspects of Peter. On the other hand, I just wasn’t able to feel invested in this story. It never, well, hooked me. (Pun absolutely intended.)
I liked all the nods to Peter’s darkness from the original (murder, starving his boys, not understanding the difference between real and make-believe, etc.), the idea of the pirates being there because they were James’s childhood dreams, and the explanations for things (how James got there, why he hated Peter).
I also liked that the author showed us not just the origin/backstory of how James/Hook came to be a pirate in Neverland, but also what his life was like after he joined the pirate crew. That was where the story had some overlap with the original novel, and seeing the author’s take on those events, seeing James’s side of things, was cool.
I felt awful for James and how all he really wanted the whole time was to go home. There’s a part where he meets another captain that I wasn’t expecting, and it was very touching and bittersweet. So the author did make his character one I empathized with and did manage to infuse some emotion into the story.
But, as I said, I never really got into it, and I’m not entirely sure why. I don’t know if it was my mood, the audio narration, the slow pace, or just the story itself that was the problem. I didn’t dislike it, but I kinda just wanted to be finished with it.
I also didn’t like the audio narration by Simon Vance. The narration itself was ok, but he has this particular kind of voice I don’t like, and I didn’t feel his voices for James and Tiger Lily suited them. This is obviously a very subjective thing though.
There’s also a relationship between James and Tiger Lily in this book, but that’s neither a like nor dislike. I don’t think I felt much about it either way.
Overall, this was a good Captain Hook retelling, one that creates an interesting backstory for him and follows the original story pretty closely, with a few differences. I somewhat enjoyed it, but it just didn’t leave a big impression on me.
Anyone who likes slow-paced stories and Peter Pan retellings that focus on Captain Hook and that stay fairly true to the original book.