BOOK REVIEW + DISCUSSIONS : Unhooked by Lisa Maxwell

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BANNER YA RETELLING

Another Peter Pan retelling! This book has the potential of being amazing but it didn’t live up to that. Though I wasn’t a fan of the this book,  I enjoyed reading it anyway. This is my 100 % honest review and this is not sponsored.

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TITLE: Unhooked
AUTHOR Lisa Maxwell
GENRE: Fantasy, Young Adult, Retelling
FORMAT: eBOOK
PUBLISHER: Simon Pulse
DATE READ: June 23, 2016

GRADD

GOODREADS:

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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?

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non spoilery review

A retelling that would give you a mixed emotion and  would leave you with a tad bit of resolution.unhooked 3.png

First of all, I have picked up this book because I’ve decided to join a read along on a book club on instagram called Not Your Mamas Book Club. It was really fun discussing this book with them because we get to exchange different ideas and theories every Sunday. And after a month of read-along, it’s time to write my honest review on this book.

I have a love and hate relationship with this book because I’m really struggling to love it but at the same time hate it. This wasn’t a perfect book to begin with but that doesn’t mean that it was awful. It had its great moments and at some point, it got me hooked and got me really invested in the story. Because I’ve always loved Peter Pan stories and adaptations and I’m glad 2016 opened with another one! I didn’t feel disoriented with the first few chapters because I liked the mystery and suspense Lisa Maxwell has given us. What’s the real deal with Captain Hook? Will he still play the villain in this story? Will Peter still be the hero? Just like what we’ve always known?

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This is the map illustration of Neverland I’ve found on YA BOOKS CENTRAL . Feel free to click on that to see their site and enter their giveaways. Anyways I have seen this map late, I’m almost done with the book when I’ve randomly seen this. But it really helped me a bit into picturing out the shape of Neverland.

The story was crafted in the eyes and voice of Gwendolyn Allister, a girl who’s always on the run with her mom not because they were fugitives, but because her mom believes that monsters were running after them. I don’t know where to stand with Gwen because I feel like she’s an indecisive protagonist. Twists and turn happened and Gwen ended up in Neverland as well as her bestfriend Olivia. But Gwen found herself in the ship of the famous Captain Hook while Olivia was in the hands of the heroic Peter Pan. Gwen knew how the story works, Hook was evil and Pan was good. But Neverland was different from what she had known in the story book. Aside from that, Neverland is now being haunted by evil creatures and mystery envelopes the whole land.Gwen felt that it was pretty hard to decide whom to trust because everyone seems to have their own agendas (I’ve felt that too girl). Little did she know, there were lots of greater things at stake in which the solution lies within her decisions. She was suddenly thrust in the midst of embracing who she was and sacrificing the life she had always known.

“I should be terrified of how very alive it all feels, but after all I’ve been through—and after everything I’ve done—fear seems like a luxury I can’t afford.”

I couldn’t give much details because it would spoil the whole story but I just want to say that this book was okay and it could be appealing to others more than it did to me. I liked it but didn’t love it. It could give a reader a sense of mixed emotions but with a thread of resolution. I like how the author gave us a choice on whom to side with or who to root for. The book felt engaging and I like that there were things in this that we could discuss.

But I was a little bit  disappointed toward the end part because it felt rushed and blurry. To think that this was a stand alone, some questions weren’t answered and there were loopholes in the story that I wanted to let it pass but I couldn’t really ignore. I wanted to explore the world of Neverland not just a tad bit. It’s like you know that the setting was in Neverland but you don’t feel like you were there, because to me, it didn’t feel that alive. I wanted more. The pacing was quite slow but on the last few pages of the book wherein so much thing should have happened, it suddenly become all fast-paced but it felt too short and incomplete. 

But over all, it was a great read and if you’re looking for a book about Peter Pan retelling with a twist, this book could be your cup of tea. And besides, Hook is kind of hot here and sexy. 😀

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The story opened with what seems to be (correct me if I’m wrong) a present day London. Gwendolyn and her mom always move from place to place because her mom always think that someone is running after them. Olivia, Gwen’s best friend will stay with them for a little while but things didn’t go out as planned; they were kidnapped by the so called the Dark Ones. The Dark Ones are one of the creatures in this story that really stirred my attention. I imagine them as the dementors in Harry Potter but I remained clueless on their nature. Why do they consume a human’s soul?  Gwen suddenly found herself on the  the luscious ship of Captain Hook which later we found out that his name in this retelling was Rowan. She was rescued and I’m surprised by the fact that it’s not just Gwen who was aware with all that’s happening. Even Rowan himself knew  that there was a tale written by Mr. Barrie which features Peter Pan as the hero and him as the villain. This made me excited because the characters were aware and I’m curious to see how this would affect the story building.

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Gwen, knowing how the story goes, didn’t fully trust Rowan because he was supposed to be the villain. He didn’t deny it and claimed that he really is a villain. But he warned Gwen not to believe too much on stories because they tend to pass of lies as the truth and hide the truth in their lies. (that’s probably my favorite quote in this story! ) I started to like Hook as soon as I’ve first met him but still I was a bit hesitant to fully trust him. Luckily, I’ve picked up my cards well and rooted for the right guy.

  • The Ambush of Hook’s Ship

This is the part where I got exasperated with Gwen. Rowan’s ship was ambushed by boys whom he believed was sent by Pan. He then told Gwen not to go anywhere and just stay in his cabin so she’d be safe. But because Gwen was so kick ass and mighty, of course she has to get out and put herself in danger which was also the reason why the other crew of Rowan were in more danger than her trying to rescue her. She really got into my nerves because she knew that she couldn’t handle the situation going on outside, but still she jeopardize herself because of what? To prove that she was stubborn in nature? And to prove that she will ever listen to Rowan? I don’t know.

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This is where we found out that HIMSELF needed “the girl” to gain control over the whole Neverland. I started to suspect here that himself is none other than Pan, but of course I’m tip toeing too because this book really make you think. Gwen also found out that Olivia is in Neverland and  is determined to save her.

  • Peter Pan to the Rescue

I hate Pan in this story. He’s dull, evil and I fell like he doesn’t posses any human qualities. One night, he sneaked into Hook’s ship in order to “rescue” Gwen and he claimed that Hook will try to use her for his own benefit. Of course Gwen believed him easily because that’s how the fairytale  goes, Peter is the good guy. I, too, wanted to believe that he was the good guy here because he can’t be that bad right? But what kind of good guy would try to badmouth others to lift himself up. It’s as if the odds are in favor of Pan, Gwen saw Rowan sacrificing the life of the  “almost dying” young crew to the Dark Ones for there is no hope to the boy’s life. This part made me question Hook and also the Dark Ones, where are they loyal to? What was the purpose of this? This triggered Gwen into believing that Rowan is the antagonist. Pan brought Gwen to his home and to Gwen’s surprise, her best friend Olivia was there. Contrary to what I’ve said earlier about Gwen, I like how here, she didn’t went off her guard and continued to be wary of her surroundings. Pan did a lot of suspicious things here that we couldn’t just ignore. Olivia on the other hand, do not know who Gwen is whenever Pan is around. But there was a swift moment wherein Gwen swore, Olivia had a hint of recognition in her eyes but vanished as soon as Pan showed up.

  • Rowan a.k.a Captain Hook’s Arrival

His arrival was rather quick and even Pan was surprised. After Pan snatched away Gwen from Rowan’s ship, Rowan, together with his crew, then sail to save her. But he was not welcomed and captured instead, because Gwen didn’t believe in him. His whole crew were imprisoned and so were he.  Pan made her believe that Rowan tried to kill Olivia. What I’m annoyed about with Gwen on this part is that, she knows that at this point, Pan couldn’t be trusted and can be manipulative. She even bad mouth Rowan saying that “you tried to kill Olivia” bla bla “you wanted to use me for your own benefit.” Oh come on girl! Didn’t he prove himself enough by going in the lion’s den risking his whole crew just to save you? And besides, in a world where you don’t know whom to trust and you must choose one of the two, isn’t it that you must choose the one that never tried to harm you? Rowan never harmed Gwen and as the matter of fact, showed her great generosity while she was in the ship. On the other hand, Pan continued on being a creepy psycho who kept on saying “you don’t have to come home” “you are safe here”

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  •  The Truth About Gwen’s Identity and the Twists.

So, the Queen of Neverland who was once defeated by Pan and was now buried somewhere that only Pan and Rowan knows, was freed by Gwen using her Fey magic. How did that happen? Simply because Gwen’s dad was the Queen’s son. And her son happened to posses some Dark Magic that’s why he was banished by the Queen a long time ago. The Queen chose to adopt and raise a boy named Pan instead thinking he would be a better ruler than her dark son.  Here we found out that aside from Gwen’s growing desire for Rowan (and vice versa) and how they managed to kiss after almost drowning on the ocean, she possess half of the Queen’s light magic and half of her father’s Dark magic which made her “the balance” of everything. The Dark Ones weren’t really trying to kill her. They trying to chase her because they were guiding her to the truth after Gwen had forgotten about Neverland because her mom erased it unto her memory. ( I like this twist but it wasn’t as big as I was expecting but the author was able to establish a solid plot line.)

But instead of being thankful toward Gwen, the Queen suddenly were in fury. She sensed Gwen’s dark magic and she wanted her dead. UNGRATEFUL BEATCH. I was like, WTF SHE EVEN SAVED YOUR ASS BEATCH QUEEN, YOU COULD HAVE BEEN STILL EATING SOIL RIGHT NOW IF SHE DIDN’T SAVE YOU. 

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  • The Final Battle

So this is how the final battle goes;

Gwen freed the Queen. Queen was angry at Gwen because she was part dark fey. Then Pan died. The Queen died.  Gwen discovered her whole identity. They went back to London. Happily ever after.

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The final battle was meh. IT WAS ALL OVER THE PLACE AND NOT CLIMACTIC. It ended so abruptly and I didn’t even feel the intensity of it. I feel like, it was rushed because all the antagonists were easily defeated but not in the appropriate manner we were expecting. It’s like the production team of a certain stage play just wanted to call it a day so they just rushed everything even it didn’t look satisfying. Pan was easily defeated, the Queen was easily defeated. It was disappointing because the author marketed them as a strong characters with scary powers but it doesn’t feel like that on the end. They died without a fight. It wasn’t the strongest battle because I was expecting for more. The Queen was wounded by Olivia which made it easier for the Dark Ones to get into the Queen and kill her which really sounded weak because she was introduced as a mighty Queen. And what irked me is that, Gwen has nothing to do with how the Queen was defeated. She was just there but didn’t contribute anything at all. This sums up what my thoughts were for the final battle:

  1. We didn’t get to see Gwen at her best. Her character got matured but we didn’t get to see the full extent of her powers. It doesn’t feel strong enough because it wasn’t descriptively written.
  2. Queen’s presence was unnecessary, I think the book could still stand without her.
  3. Pan died and we never get to see his side of story. Why he was like that, what urged him to be bad and to be greedy. I was expecting a sword fight with Rowan but no, none of it happened.
  4. Olivia’s was a nice girl but I don’t think she has an impact on this story. Her sacrifice was just another thing the author added so that we could safe that “she really contributed something” And I don’t know if it’s right to take Rowan with her on the present world just to continue their happily every after. Up to now I’m still contemplating if it’s what Rowan truly wants.
  5. Who the eff is now running Neverland if everyone is dead? The Dark Ones?

The story could have ended differently but I have not much complains since there was a resolution. I just feel a little bit sad because I wasn’t satisfied with it. I think I need a novella for the epilogue.

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Gwen: She wasn’t the strongest female character out there but I have to give her credits for continuously being curious. Her whole curiosity both jeopardized and saved her. But it was interesting to see her coming of age on this book. She grew as a character but still I can’t bring myself to like her because of the qualities and decisions she made (which was discussed above). I’m sorry. Her being part light fey and part dark fey, didn’t feel strong enough. Gwen has nothing to do with how the Queen was defeated

Rowan. He’s the only character I’ve liked on this book because he’s the only one who truly knows his stand. He has a clear view on what he wanted to do and why. He has a sense of purpose and I admire him because he truly cares for his crew. I wish we can see him sail again.

Pan. Won the best annoying character award. He was purely evil and I didn’t even feel any sympathy toward him. But I just wanted to know how he became what he is. Why did he let darkness consumed him. Despite being all bad, I wanted a bit of his side story. I wished that the above quote/ excerpt every chapter, I just wish it narrated the story on how PAN AND ROWAN became enemies. I think it would have been better.

Olivia. She’s the major scapegoat in this story and I really feel bad toward her fate. She was a nice girl and true bestfriend to Gwen but not really important in this story like the Queen. :/

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Romance wasn’t the strongest point of this story. There was no lingering chemistry between Gwen and Rowan because I don’t know why they even liked each other on the first place. They didn’t have much interaction and when Gwen was kidnapped by Pan and Rowan tried to rescued her, she suddenly like him and wanted to kiss him…  Though Rowan was attractive enough, I didn’t like Gwen for him. That’s just my personal opinion. The story focused more on how to unfold all the mysteries surrounding Neverland and I think Lisa Maxwell sort of just wanted to satisfy the YA genre and put a bit of romance in it even it wasn’t necessary. Sad to say that there is no “rootable” ship on this story.

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I like the concept that Lisa Maxwell created; A Neverland where Hook is not a villain but Pan is. There was a certain beauty you feel while reading Lisa’s work but my only complain is that, there was a bit of problems on how she end a story and how here on this book, she didn’t justify some of the points. And this could have been better if she used other people’s perspective other than Gwen. Because to be honest, I never really cared for Gwen. I want to know more about Rowan’s story, about Pan’s story, but not Gwen’s. Like I mentioned above, she could have just included the story on how Rowan was like when he first arrived on Neverland, his relationship with Pan and how they grew apart. That would have been more interesting.

The problem with Lisa’s writing is that she keeps on throwing us information but never really explaining it vividly. The last few pages of the book was abrupt and the ending lowered my rating for this book.

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This book has a lot of potential of becoming good but it didn’t live up to that. Maybe if it was a duology, maybe, some of the points were explained and well crafted. But this wasnt the worst book ever, this was just actually okay. I give this book a 3.5 stars because it had its great moments and an interesting concept. But I was just sad that it ended up to be disappointing. Maybe one day, we could have the best Peter Pan retelling, but up until now, I haven’t found one.

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WAS THIS REVIEW HELPFUL? LET ME KNOW IN THE COMMENTS BELOW.

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