Review and Giveaway: Alias Hook, Lisa Jensen

Note: I received a copy of Alias Hook from the publisher in exchange for an honest review.

When publishers release their seasonal catalogues, I make note of all the books that sound interesting, in my TBR spreadsheet. This is to stop myself from immediately requesting 50 review books, which would only lead to my having way too many books to read and not enough time to read them all. So usually what happens is that I forget about all of them until they’re already published and I can just get them from the library. In the case of Alias Hook, I could not allow this to happen. I was so excited for this book that I put a reminder in my calendar to request a review copy in June.

And look at this excellent cover!

Let me tell you what this is right here. Alias Hook is the backstory of Captain Hook from Peter Pan, starting with his life as a Restoration-era privateer. There is nothing in that sentence that doesn’t make me shriek with joy. Cursed by a former lover, Hook must live forever in Neverland, perpetually fighting with Peter Pan and group after group of Lost Boys, never able to leave the Neverland, never able to die.

“It’s Hook or me this time,” the boy jeered as the massacre began. But it’s never him. And it’s never me. Since then, he has defeated me innumerable times, but never quite to the death. He wills it so, and his will rules all. . . . Is it any wonder I so often tried to kill him? Would not his death break the enchantment of this awful place and release us both? But I can never best him. He flies. He has youth and innocence on his side, and the heartlessness that comes with them. I have only heartlessness, and it is never, ever enough.

Time after time, with new batches of Lost Boys, new Wendys come to be mothers, Peter Pan wages war on Captain Hook and his new batch of pirates. Time after time, Hook and his men lose, and he sees them all massacred — men who were once Lost Boys themselves, and have returned to Neverland as adults, to be pirates. The cycle never changes. Until one day, an adult woman from 1950s England appears in the Neverland.

Y’all, I couldn’t have enjoyed this book more. Nothing about it was unfun. Jensen takes the inherent creepiness and weirdness of the Peter Pan character and dials them up to eleven. I won’t be able to watch Peter Pan Live this winter without thinking of this book and getting a crawly feeling down my spine about that character. (That doesn’t mean I won’t watch Peter Pan Live. I am going to watch it SO HARD because it’s going to be the greatest television event of our generation.)

I could have done with a higher degree of Restoration-era privateering from Hook prior to his being trapped in Neverland for centuries, but that is just personal preference. I love privateering. Jensen sensibly spends most of her time showing us the man Hook has become — a man weary of the senseless deaths of his pirate underlings, a man who puts on the persona of the bravura pirate captain though it becomes increasingly unnatural to do so — rather than the man he used to be. The few glimpses we have of Past Hook are quite unpleasant, and it makes sense that we don’t hang out with him much in his privateering raping-and-pillaging days. That would make it difficult to get behind his reformed-man status and romance with Stella. (Um, spoilers, but like, as soon as a thirty-eight-year-old woman appears in Neverland, you know she’s going to get with Hook, right?)

I’d criticize the mythology of Neverland — it’s reasonable enough that Neverland exists as a necessity for children’s dreams in the real world, but the mechanics of that mythology aren’t very well fleshed out. It’s fine. I skipped past that stuff. I took in the gist and tuned out the details that didn’t interest me. I went into this book predisposed to like it, and I had a really, really good time reading it.

And now the giveaway! St. Martin’s is offering a copy of Alias Hook (with its gorgeous cover) to one lucky reader! Complete the below Google Form by the end of this month (31 July) to be entered for this giveaway. I’ll select a winner at random and announce it on 1 August. This contest is open to US readers only (sorry, international folks!).

  • rivercityreading

    I’ve heard so many good things about this book (and unfortunately fell into that forgot until it was already published category on this one). It sounds like the backstory was handled really well but there’s still something completely unique here, which I’m really looking forward to reading.

    • Gin Jenny

      Yeah, it’s a lot of fun.

  • Oh, my! This just became a MUST READ!

    • Gin Jenny

      Yay!

  • This sounds like it could be as much fun as watching the movie Hook was right before we had children.

    • Gin Jenny

      I should rewatch Hook, it’s been years. I know I’ve seen it, but I remember almost zero things about it.

      • Watching it now will be a bit melancholy, since it stars Robin Williams.

  • I hadn’t heard of this one but it sounds very similar to the Peter Pan/Hook dynamic in this past season of Once Upon a Time (do you watch that show? If you like fairytale retellings, you should give it a shot). OUaT has Pan as a truly evil guy, and Hook is actually very much the opposite – only once you get to know him and understand his motivations. Anyway, I’m interested in this book. 🙂

    • Gin Jenny

      I started it, but I was a little bored. Does it pick up? I do like a lot of the actors in it.

  • That sounds surprisingly awesome. Want!

    • Gin Jenny

      It was fun!

  • I’ve always been super creeped out by Peter Pan. He is NOT a nice boy. I’m so in for this book that I’m inside of a crocodile right now. THAT IS HOW IN I AM.

    • Gin Jenny

      Hahahahaha, THAT IS VERY IN INDEED.

  • I agree with @MegsGranger. Peter Pan always creeped me out. When I was a kid I kind of wanted Wendy to punch him. I am definitely reading this book!

    • Gin Jenny

      Oh totally me too. Wendy shouldn’t have put up with that nonsense for a second.

  • Dude. Want.

    My library has it on order, which is particularly nice because I can request it immediately without feeling like I’ve messed up my August TBR. It’ll probably make its way through processing in September, or maybe even October (my library is slow), at which point I’ll be ready to read it.

    • Gin Jenny

      Nice! It’s always good not to have to feel rushed.

  • I hope this comes out in the UK – I MUST read it!

    • Gin Jenny

      Annabel, in case you don’t see the author’s comment below, it should already be out in the UK — came out in May 2013, she says!

  • YESSSS! So want to read this. I just finished reading Entomology of a Bookworm’s review. Must read!

    • Gin Jenny

      It’s really fun!

  • This sounds amazing! I am not a fan of OUaT Hook, but I like Hook in general (what I really want is a gender swap Hook – one day it will come). Adding it to my list.

    PS. Hey, how do you get seasonal catalogues? Do you just use the publisher sites as reference or do you get hardcopies?

    • Gin Jenny

      I just use the publisher sites as reference. I wish I could get hard copies! It would be pretty much the funnest thing ever to get hard copy catalogs in the mail — like those old Scholastic book order forms they used to give out in elementary and middle schools. God I loved those.

  • This sounds brilliant! I’ve always thought of Hook as the good guy and Pan as the villain, does something similar play out here?

    • Gin Jenny

      Yep, exactly! Peter Pan is as creepy as they come in this book! 🙂

  • Gah, after reading the original Peter Pan last year, I’ve been super creeped out by the story in ways I wasn’t as a kid. I think I’d rather enjoy Hook’s take on things!

    • Gin Jenny

      Hahaha, I haven’t reread it in years. My memories of the movie are not very positive.

  • I guess I’m going to be in the minority when I say that I know very little about Peter Pan and Hook. I couldn’t get myself to read those books when I was younger. But, oh that cover! So gorgeous and so very appropriate! I love covers that tell a little about the story or characters inside!

    • Gin Jenny

      Honestly, Peter Pan’s not that great. You’ve probably absorbed enough through pop culture osmosis to understand what this book’s talking about.

  • This book sounds so fun. I love the passage you quoted — so world weary.

    • Gin Jenny

      I know, it’s the best. 🙂

  • Annabel, “Alias Hook” is published in the UK by Snowbooks. You should be able to find it as we speak on Amazon UK; it came out in May, 2013.

    • Gin Jenny

      Thanks!!

  • Would love to read this but I’m guessing if the giveaway is US only it’s not out here yet. One to remember for later. I keep meaning to read Peter Pan as I only read abridged versions as a kid.

    • Gin Jenny

      Really? Well, you’re not missing that much if you don’t read it, I promise. It’s a very silly book. Also pretty sexist. Also pretty racist.

  • What a brilliant idea to have a TBR spreadsheet. What a genius you are, Jenny!

  • aartichapati

    This sounds great! I think I may have to retread Peter Pan to fully understand it, though. I could see it being fantastic if I am familiar enough with the story again to see all the links.

  • Hi Jenny –
    Just stopping by to read your review of Alias Hook.

    Nice review with well pointed out pluses and negatives.

    I have to disagree with you about the Neverland mythology – It worked for me where as I often have trouble suspending my belief for a lot of fantasy. I particularly liked that Hook was sent to Neverland because of his childish behaviors giving the book a sort of unifying theme. I didn’t include my thoughts on the child theme in my review because I did not want to give too much away. Always a point of contention for me when writing a review since I hate spoilers.

    Regardless I have my fingers crossed about the sequel. Lisa Jensen has a lot to work with considering the ending for Alias Hook.

    Thanks for stopping by my blog! Now to nose around your blog a bit more.

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