I picked this up because it’s offered for free if you have Amazon Prime – I’m able to take a lot of risks that I wouldn’t usually do with my monthly credit.
I wanted to like this book much more than I did. The premise is awesome – this is told from the perspective of Captain Hook, it’s split into two timelines, the present and Hook’s backstory ranging from childhood to a misspent early adulthood. He was born in the late 1600’s to a wealthy family in Bristol, England. He was born James Hookbridge, and eventually he was framed for piracy when he wasn’t actually a pirate yet. To get back at the people who sentenced him to death, he does turn into the dread pirate Hook and starts wreaking havoc across the seas.
I was invested in this at first. It’s Peter Pan who’s painted to look like the bad guy here. Hook has been stuck for 200 years dying over and over again only to have himself heal and go through another cycle of losing to Peter. His crew isn’t immortal though… they die in droves when Pan and his Lost Boys come to start shit with them. However, what makes this another level of fucked up is that Hook’s crew are old Lost Boys. Peter gets tired of them and casts them out, only to taunt them back as adults in their dreams, where they get stuck and can’t leave until they die. It’s taken a toll on Hook and he wants nothing more than to just die. He doesn’t care if it’s gruesome or painful, as long as it’s permanent.
Hook stumbles upon the first woman he’s ever seen in Neverland, everyone is either a boy or a man, there are no girls or women here at all. Sometimes a “Wendy” will be brought from the human realm into this Neverland, but they never stay long. He doesn’t know what to think of Stella at first, he’s convinced she’s a spy for Peter since nothing in Neverland happens without his say-so. Peter can make people, things, plants and animals turn to dust if he wants them to. So, naturally, this woman has to be a spy, right? After a while he starts to trust her, and they start to look for a way out of Neverland… and their relationship slowly turns romantic. This is where I have the most issue with the book. Hook is a fucking manipulative emotionally abusive asshole. He gets into a fight with her and makes a jab at her stillborn baby. He thinks she’s run off and so he thinks she’s the most cruel selfless woman ever, he considers it a betrayal. Like dude, you just made fun of someone’s dead kid. He starts thinking to himself that she’s going to find other lovers and of course she will “prefer other bodies to mine”. It’s creepy and just jarring to read about. He thought about how he used to go rape people as a pirate, promising to spare their families if they sleep with him – and how different sex is with Stella. Just, take all of my no.
There was a theme of redemption throughout this book, but the actions didn’t match the words. Hook can’t redeem himself if he’s still looking at people as things to possess. He wanted to put away his Hook persona and go back to being James Hookbridge, but it’s just a difficult pill to swallow given his inner thoughts about Stella and women in general. He had a fiance back in the real world before he got stuck in Neverland, and he felt she didn’t “wait long enough” after he was captured and imprisoned for a number of years. He’s still super bitter and hateful about it, and it’s just weird.
The sad thing is, the world building is fascinating, the prose is pretty good, the premise is a good one, there’s a nice dark undertone to the whole story that just took a turn for gross instead of dark. I can’t say I’d recommend this one, sadly.
- Plot: 10/15
- Characters: 8/15
- World Building: 11/15
- Writing: 12/15
- Pacing: 11/15
- Originality: 11/15
- Personal Enjoyment: 2/10
Final Score: 65/100 or 3.25/5 on Goodreads