I’m just going to get straight to the point and say this book wasn’t necessarily bad, but it disappointed me, and here are the reasons why:
– The blurb and title made me think it would have Captain Hook, but there was no Hook. Why is the word hook in the title??? It also wasn’t really a retelling, just kind of inspired by Peter Pan. *SPOILER* In the world of Unhooked, the story of Peter Pan existed, and the characters speculated that maybe Barrie had been to the island they were on and based Peter Pan off of it. So when boys ended up on this island, they just assumed it was Neverland and that the one guy was Peter (although from what I understand, he wasn’t really). And Rowan just took on the role of the villain against Pan because he started to see Pan for the cruel, power-hungry person he really was. *END SPOILER* So my expectations for this book were just way off.
– The disability rep didn’t seem great. Rowan was missing a hand but had a magical, mechanical hand that worked just as perfectly as a flesh one. There was one point when Rowan said he got his arm enchanted so that he could “stand against [Pan] as a true equal,” implying that he couldn’t be equal without it. I might be reading too much into that, but there was another point when Rowan said, “It might not be so bad if I didn’t have to remember what it was to be whole,” and then Gwen thought, “I want to tell him he’s still whole, but I don’t feel like muddying whatever it is growing between us with lies.” I try to be understanding that characters aren’t perfect and that a character’s thoughts aren’t the same as a book’s message, and I’m ok with Rowan feeling however he feels, but having an able-bodied character imply that people without fully functioning limbs are not whole, combined with the other things, just left a bad taste in my mouth.
– Gwen could be frustrating. There was this whole “I was just kidnapped by monsters I didn’t know existed, and now I’m being held captive in the middle of nowhere, and my captor seems heartless and cruel—but oh hey, he’s hot and being near him makes me feel all tingly inside” thing. And she got on her moral high horse when Rowan did anything less than perfect (even if he had a good reason) and automatically believed everything Pan said against him… but every time Pan did something terrible or someone tried to tell her about him, she brushed it off or hesitated to believe.
– Rowan felt flat and cliche—the love interest who’s done bad things but is still good and is full of self-loathing for the bad things.
– The book was slow and never really gripped me.
But overall the story was kind of unique and seemed to make sense. Maybe I would’ve enjoyed the book more if I hadn’t been expecting and wanting the actual Captain Hook. Especially since this was based on the original rather than the Disney version (i.e. everything is terrifying)—another point in its favor.
Gwen was also an alright character, aside from the things I mentioned above. She never gave up trying to escape and survive, no matter how bad the situation seemed. And despite her attraction to Rowan, she never lost sight of her goal to get herself and her friend back home.
So I was disappointed by the disability rep and the lack of Captain Hook, but if you go into it with different expectations than I did, you might enjoy it more.
Anyone looking for YA fantasy with faeries and magic. NOT anyone looking for a story about the actual Captain Hook.