Publisher: Simon Pulse, February 2016
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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?
Unhooked is not the Neverland you know. In an age of fairy tales reimaginings, Maxwell’s twist on the classic Peter Pan is unsettling and addictive. Peter is no longer the slight boy who whisks Wendy and her family out of their bedroom window; instead, Gwen and her friend Olivia kidnapped and taken into another world: that Neverland that leaves you slightly unsettled and on the edge of your seat.
Not your typical fairy tale.
Many fairy tale retellings merely repeat their namesake stories and add a few twists here and there. Don’t get me wrong – those have a place in my heart. Maxwell’s Unhooked on the other hand throws an entire tornado into the classic tale’s plotline and turns the world upside down.
It was these powerful plot twists that kept me reading through Unhooked. I had expected something along the lines of the Disney movie I watched every night growing up but quickly realized that Maxwell wasn’t one for adapting to others’ ideas. Instead, she tore apart the characters, from Hook to Peter to Wendy, and recreated them from the ground up. It was fascinating.
This is not the Neverland you are looking for.
The plot and characters weren’t the only ones that underwent a significant shift to the dark side. Neverland itself was built into this beautiful, mystical world with virtually a mind of its own. More dangerous than expected (by Gwen or me), it quickly evolved into its own character and occasionally took the story by storm.
But the timing…
While I loved the character twists and plot – let’s be honest here, those aren’t twists – hurricanes, it felt like the narration occasionally got distracted or ran away with too many details. I wanted to know what was happening with the characters, not how the – admittedly fascinating – atmosphere was setting the scene.
Regardless, the unexpected re-visioning of this well-loved story unexpectedly drew me in. It was fun, twisted, and just a touch too dark. Perfect for those who loved Drown and other darker fairy tale retellings.