I loved the story and the re-imagined world of Neverland. I loved the descriptions and the pictures that were painted in my mind. I didn’t love the romance or accents.
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?
Maxwell certainly gives us an amazingly lush terrain of threatening island jungle, but she also gives us a tropey romance on the decks of a pirate ship. Gwen, our heroine, is instantly attracted to Rowan (aka Hook).
Upfront, the romance in Unhooked was downplayed, with Gwen acknowledging that her attraction to the Captain was fairly similar to Stockholm Syndrone. But that doesn’t stop her from noticing his body. His warm body. His warm muscular body.
All well and good for a healthy teenaged girl. But I did not find anywhere in Unhooked where Gwen’s attraction went any further than something physical. Sure, Rowan saves her time and time again, but Gwen’s character never acknowledges that shes thankful to see Rowan. It’s usually “Oh, he’s going to throw me back on the ship.” or “His warm body wraps around me and keeps me from doing anything.”
My other issue with Unhooked was in the dialogue. Very rarely do the other characters call Gwen by her name, and if they do it is usually Gwendolyn. A not-so-subtle way for the characters to keep her at a distance. But each character also had a little slightly-condescending name for her:
Rowan : Lass
Pan : My Dear
Fairies : Young One
It might not seem condescending to you, but try seeing it on a page three or four times and it might start to irk you beyond belief.
Unhooked is a great read with a twisting turning plot similar to the island of Neverland itself, and despite my issues with the dialogue and warm bodies, I really did enjoy it. Its throwbacks to the original source work are well-done and often humorous. I recommend that you at least give it a chance as I did.
Originally posted on RRWrites.com on June 24th, 2016.