Unhooked – Lisa Maxwell

I started reading this book because I needed my fill of fairytale retellings. As a massive fan of the TV series Once Upon a Time and an addictive reader of fairytale retellings, I knew I needed to read this book when it came out. 
I started this book what feels like ages ago and it took me a long time to get into it. Being the type of reader that needs to start and finish a book within a week, it wasn’t long before I set this book down and found it tough going back. I found Unhooked difficult to read because the main action of the plot didn’t start for over 150 pages. In the first few pages I was intrigued because Gwendolyn has a rocky relationship with her mother who I originally thought suffered from a mental illness. She finds comfort in her friend Olivia who is staying with them whilst they settle in their new home. It isn’t long before the two girls are whisked away in the night by a shadowy creature and find themselves stranded in Neverland. 

This book paints Neverland in a different light to what we’re familiar with in the books and movies. It gives the power not just to the characters like Pan and the Captain but instead to the island. There are many interesting and strange characters but they don’t start to appear until 2 thirds of the way through. I would have loved to have seen more of these creatures earlier in the plot. 

I liked some of the characters in the plot like Pan and the Captain however I was indifferent to Gwendolyn who seemed a little neutral to the situation, yes she wanted to go home but she was stuck in an awkward position. She didn’t know who she could trust or how to get home yet she was very quick to jump between different situations such as the Captain’s ship and Pan’s layer. I found that given her situation her reaction was bland and she was numb to what was happening to her. Again two thirds of the way through she seemed to sense her own strength yet she still depended on either Pan or Hook for help. 

There is an element of love in this plot too yet I felt it was too quick to properly form and was a relationship that could have been expanded. I loved the relationship between the Captain and Gwendolyn and would have enjoyed reading more about it yet it was reserved until the end of the plot. 

I feel like this book had a very slow start and middle compared to the end which I had no problem flying through. The ending was filled with action, creatures, love and distrust. It was exciting and intriguing, yet it only spanned a third of the book. The final 50 pages of this book is the best section and the plot really expands, shows the reader more of the island and even more of the characters but there was too much setting the scene compared to the action.

I gave Unhooked a 3 out of 5 stars on Goodreads as it was an interesting idea yet I feel it wasn’t fully formed for the plot. The characters were likeable and intriguing and I would have liked to read more about the Captain’s origin story and even Pans, like how did they get there? I did enjoy this book but at times felt it was more of a task, there are many fairytale retellings about Snow White, Cinderella, Sleeping Beauty yet not enough about Neverland so I was a little disappointed with this read as I expected more from it. 


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