Tuesday, July 8, 2014

Review: Alias Hook by Lisa Jensen

**I got this book as an eArc from Netgalley**

The concept of taking a well-known story and shifting the point of view to that of the villain is hardly something new, and it's hard to do it right: the authors that write that kind of book attempt to make it as though the villains are just misunderstood. Villains are fun because of their villainy, not in spite of it. We don't want them to be brave and noble, we have heroes for that. 
Now, let's all give a standing ovation for Lisa Jensen. because she didn't attempt to convince us that Captain Hook has truly been a hero all along. At least in the beginning, he is no hero, he is just sympathetic. The situation he has been forced into is truly horrible, but it is a consequence of his actions.
Hook is a coward, proud to the point of folly, he's convinced that the whole world is out to get him. He went on a crusade to have his revenge on all those who screwed him over, and, trust me, he has a right to be angry. However, he has no right to be downright vicious. 
When he turns against the wrong woman, the voodoo priestess Proserpina, he ends up banished into the Neverland.
The Neverland is the children's dreamland, as full of beautiful, whimsical things as it is of dangerous creatures, and most of the time the inhabitants of the Neverland are both as once: wonderful and deadly.
Children all over the globe need the Neverland, as a safe place where they can live out their dreams and where they can safely explore their fears. As such, even though Peter Pan is cruel and sadistic, he is needed. That way, despite the fact that he is the story's antagonist, he isn't a completely black or white character, just as Hook is morally ambiguous.
Another thing I liked is the fact that the Lost Boy's viscousness is explained: they are children, and as such they don't understand the concept of the fact that actions have consequences. They don't see how killing is not something to be taken lightly, that when they attack and kill the members of Hook's crew, they are harming other human beings, just like them. This is made even plainer by the fact that the pirates are former lost boys.
"Alias Hook" is at its core, a coming-of-age story. There's a reason why Hook's punishment is to be sent to the Neverland. He his, at heart, still a child. He blames other people for his misfortunes, and he refuses to face the consequences of his actions. He longs to escape the Neverland, he'd even prefer death to being stuck there any longer, but he can't until he grows up (metaphorically of course).
There are many other things about the book that I liked: Hook's sense of humor, which was sarcastic and occasionally even laugh-out-loud funny (and trust me, it takes a lot to make me laugh out loud when I'm ready), the side characters, which were quite likable, the mermaids, which were awesome. I can't even remember the last time I read a book where sirens were featured so heavily while remaining pretty awesome. Their nature is a twist that I don't want to spoil, but trust me on this: it's good. The fairies were well-done, too.
And of course, I adored the love story. It has an actual purpose inside the narrative, Hook's love interest is an interesting and likable character in her own right, she doesn't exist just to be his girlfriend. I truly rooted for the two of them, and the development of their relationship felt absolutely normal, there's no insta-love here. 
The only thing I disliked about the novel is that it sometimes it focused a little too heavily on the character development aspects, and a little less on the actual plot. Sometimes nothing much happened for several pages and so the book felt longer than it actually was.
Nevertheless, on the whole it was a fun and interesting read. I definitely recommend it, especially if you like your reads to focus heavily on the psychological aspect of the story. 


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