Happy Saturday, guys!
I'm SUPER stoked to share my review for Unhooked with you guys!
I - and many others, I'm sure! - have been looking for a good Peter Pan adaptation for some time now, and I've finally found it with Lisa's book.
This is a novel that not only brings readers along to a vivid, reimagined world; it's also a beautiful allegory for what it means to grow up and take charge, even as you begin to realize that the world is not a perfect place.
Hardcover, 352 pages
Expected publication: February 2nd 2016 by Simon Pulse
Format read: ARC via publisher
Author Lisa Maxwell has created a world where friendships are tested and loyalty is fleeting, and it builds up into a story that will keep keep readers begging for more.
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?
(Excuse the pun!)
Author Lisa Maxwell introduces us to Gwen, a contemporary girl who ends up being transported to a Neverland that's very different than anything she's ever read. Along the way, she learns about her true family history, and her legacy in a world that's battling between good and evil.
While I'm generally wary of books that involve an only child taking care of a seemingly-delusional parent, Maxwell's eerie, detailed beginning helps to pave the way for a thoroughly entertaining and complex tale.
We quickly learn - alongside Gwen - that there is a concrete reason for her mother's seemingly erratic behavior of the years. Maxwell does a strong job of balancing both Gwen's terror (and bursts of intrigue) as she gets to know her new surroundings, coupled with the growing realization that she has been protected from certain truths for most of her life because of her mother, and that protection is now no longer there.
Consequently, Gwen is forced to grow up and step into the adult role as she tries to suss out just who amongst Pan or the Captain (a.k.a. Rowan) is telling the truth, and what her role is in all of this. Maxwell does a nice job of capturing the internal struggle as Gwen works to step into burgeoning adulthood, including the internal jealousies, struggles and genuine sweetness that comes with this transition.
Outside of Gwen's core story, Maxwell is especially adept at rounding out the histories and motivations of the secondary characters. Readers will likely enjoy both the backgrounds of said characters, but also the struggles and obstacles that they're forced to undergo. There's a particularly heartbreaking scene that had me both in anguish for Gwen, but also proud of a character for pushing past all odds, to stay true to their heart.
All in all: this was a thoroughly satisfying read, that I can't wait for other readers to share in as well.
Of special note: I'll be honest; I sometimes don't always read the introductions to chapters, because I'm so invested in the story itself.
However, you would definitely be missing out, if you didn't spend some time going back and re(reading) all of Maxwell's intros. She's written a parallel storyline that not only adds to one of the book's central characters, but is also a beautifully touching story sibling relationships and redemption, all within a few brief sentences.
I've read many, many books in my life, but I don't think I've seen a book quite utilize such a beautiful and understated technique before. Kudos to Lisa!
(Hugh Jackman, I am looking at you. No, seriously.)
However, Lisa Maxwell has fulfilled every wish that any Pan-loving reader could have, and more. She's written a fully-realized tale that not only turns the traditional hero tale of Peter Pan on its head, but in a vivid world full of take-charge characters and empowered females to boot.
This is a story that readers will not only appreciate for its interpretation of a much-loved tale, but also for its many lessons on growing up and finding your way.
Highly recommend for fans of Pan and for fantasy. This is one you're not going to want to miss.
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About the author:
Lisa Maxwell is the author of Sweet Unrest and The Gathering Deep. She grew up in Akron, Ohio, and has a PhD in English. She’s worked as a teacher, scholar, bookseller, editor, and writer. When she’s not writing books, she’s a professor at a local college. She now lives near Washington, DC, with her husband and two sons. Visit Lisa online at Lisa-Maxwell.com