Hooked by A.C. Wise is, I believe, the first Peter Pan retelling I’ve read. I got a free copy of the book thanks to NetGalley and the publisher, Titan Books. And I got… hooked. Heh. The book was such a pleasant surprise, I gobbled a third of it in a couple of hours. It whetted my appetite, and now I’m on the lookout for other Peter Pan retellings.
The book lands tomorrow, July 12th, and if you’re wondering whether to read it, I hope my Hooked review helps. Let me start off by saying it’s obviously a sequel. A.C. Wise has another book in the Peter Pan universe, following the now-grown Wendy Darling and her daughter. That being said, I didn’t know that before reading Hooked.
What I’m trying to say is that you don’t need to read the prequel – Wendy, Darling, in order to enjoy this one. Without further ado, let’s see why that is!
Hooked: The Plot
Let me just state that I love the baddies of the stories. Not the outright villains, who are evil for evil’s sake, but those wounded, misunderstood sushi rolls that had it rough, and it made them gray. That’s what we have here – the book follows Captain James Hook or at least a shadow of his former self. A man, who’s escaped the clutches of Neverland, only to find himself hunted again twenty years after finally escaping with his life and his love.
When Pan’s monster comes to claim him, James crosses paths with Wendy Darling and her now-grown daughter – Jane. Now, they have to find their way back to the place they narrowly escaped to vanquish the beast and finally be free of the shadow cast by Pan and the hellscape of Neverland.
Hooked by A.C. Wise is a story about grief, survivor’s guilt, and healing. And if you’re not careful, it might drown you the same way James had lost his life so many times before.
Hooked: Characters & Worldbuilding
Not gonna lie, James was the most interesting character for me. I could not relate to Wendy or Jane while his story and growth were quite exciting. Without giving too much away, let’s just say he’s the one who’s lost the most, not just his ship and his crew, and his freedom to begin with because of Pan, but also the man he loves.
And yes, Hooked is queer. And I loved it. The love story we follow is tragic. You can’t help but root for James and Samuel, although they’re doomed. Hook is ready to reform for the sake of his lover. But when the monster comes again, he has no other choice but to don the crimson coat and become Captain Hook again, and I find this heartbreaking.
“Now, perhaps, at the end of everything, he can finally put his cursed existence to good use.
Become Hook one last time, and then let him go.”
This dark, broken world is anything but the one we know from the original. In this story, Pan’s the monster, and it made sense. While I’ve always found Peter a bit ominous, here he’s hardly present as a character but leaves a significant mark on the story. The way he was envisioned gave me chills. He’s the one who snatched James from his world, who cursed him, and tethered him to Neverland. Peter conjured the beast that bit off Hook’s hand and chased him across worlds.
A.C. Wise created a dark, grotesque world that can keep you up at night, thinking, what if… If that’s your poison, do not hesitate and get the book.
Should You Read It?
Yes. I had trouble with the pacing in the second half of the book, and that’s why it will get only 4* from me, but the adventure is totally worth it. Hooked by A.C. Wise is not a children’s story. Good and bad blend together until you can’t tell them apart. And it also has a pleasant cast of secondary characters. Don’t miss your chance to revisit Neverland in a way you probably haven’t before.
“Once invited, always welcome.
Once invited, never free.”