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 realises 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?
If you’re in the mood for sexy pirates, an island built on the concept of desire and lots of entirely gratuitous touching, then Unhooked by Lisa Maxwell is for you.
As it happened, at the time of picking the book up, I was in the mood for all such things.
Lisa Maxwell knows how to write a hot guy. Though there were issues with the book – the pointless and trope-ish best friend who we forget about for ninety percent of the narrative, our MC, Gwendolyn, who is the epitome of the special snowflake, and a good deal of instalove to boot – one thing I had to admit is that in Gwendolyn’s position – which was mostly in danger – I probably would have spent a similar amount of time thinking about whether or not one of these guys was going to hurry up and kiss me.
Gwen’s options were two-fold.
Option one being Captain Hook, or Rowan, as he comes to be known. Maxwell has dispensed with the creepy prosthesis that was his namesake and instead given him a fancy, fairy-manufactured replacement hand that may as well be the real thing. And Gwen would know, because she spends a lot of time connected to it. He’s mysterious, potentially evil and the owner of a very sexy Irish accent (he calls Gwen ‘lass’ a lot, which you might not think would be hot but it turns out totally is). He has a dedicated crew he supposedly cares for, but doesn’t mention them much after their deaths – much like Gwen’s attitude to her typical YA bestie – I have assume this is because he is so overcome by lust he doesn’t experience his grief in a traditional manner.
Option two is Peter Pan. He is not, you will be glad to hear, a child. Instead, he is a much more appealing, forever eighteen-year-old playboy with anger issues. Like Hook, he is probably evil, but unlike Hook, has the power to make you forget all your problems so you don’t worry about your impending death, missing best friend, or the mother who spent the first sixteen years of your life trying to prevent you from ending up exactly where you now are, and instead are primarily concerned with the speed at which he is trying to get in your pants (ideally he’d get on with it as soon as possible). He’s even more blatantly sexual than Hook (who may or may not be the good bad guy in this scenario) but definitely comes second so far as fashion choices are concerned. While Hook sports a sort of Sherlock-ian coat, Pan wears skin tight, skin colour (I literally couldn’t make this up) leather trousers.
Unhooked is a nice quick read. Maxwell doesn’t spend a lot of time dwelling on the set up of her Neverland, which I liked – excessive exposition bores me – instead choosing to thrust us into the middle of the action. This did mean that some of the bigger moments weren’t quite earned, but it was easy enough to get swept along with the pace of the narrative that I didn’t mind too much. Throughout Unhooked, Maxwell does a really great job of building up the atmosphere of Neverland – an undercurrent of uncertainty, danger and sex (or I should say, potential sex. This is YA, after all.) – that is present in every plant, human and animal/terrifying sea monster. You never want to stop reading: someone is always about the make out or drop dead.
Sometimes you just need to escape into a book where a woman with power has a bunch of sexy guys falling at her feet. Unhooked provides just that, and reading it reminded me that sometimes a book can just be fun. And it really, really was.