Book Review: Captain (Never Land Book 1) by Artie Sievers

Seventeen-year-old James wants adventure, so when his father tries to push him into a life of banking, he stows away on the Jolly Roger and accidentally becomes part of a pirate crew on their trip to Never Land. Between brewing faerie tensions, murderous pirates, near-death experiences, and love, he certainly gets an adventure, but it doesn't turn out to be quite the one he'd hoped for...

Book Review: Captain (Never Land Book 1) by Artie Sievers | historical fantasy, Peter Pan retellinga
Title: Captain
Book Number: Book 1
Pages: 442
My Rating: 3.5 Stars
More Info: Goodreads, Amazon, Publisher


*I received an ecopy of this book from the publisher. This has not influenced my review.*

Let me start by saying that I love Captain Hook. He’s one of my favorite characters. And this is the first Hook “prequel” that I’ve read, so I think I had certain expectations, which might be why I have somewhat mixed feelings about it, even though I did enjoy it in the end.

What I loved was how the author really accounted for everything in the original: the pirates and the Jolly Roger; Tinkerbell and the pixies; Peter and the Lost Boys; the natives; the Darlings; even the tick-tocking crocodile. He created some really good explanations behind these things, and he put some of his own spin on the story in some ways that I wasn’t expecting.

Along with that, I also enjoyed the plot and world-building and thought that, for the most part, it made a lot of sense how all these things connected and happened and led to what we already know of the Peter Pan tale, and it was fairly dark in some regards.

The pacing felt off though. The book was slow, yet it seemed liked the things in the book happened too quickly, or there were drastic changes in short periods of time. Then there were times when I was just really confused about how much time had passed.

I think one reason the book felt slow was because it had six POVs, not all of which seemed necessary. But I wonder now if I was mistaken in thinking this to be a series about Hook. It might be that this one was mostly about him, but the others will be more broadly about all the characters involved, in which case the many POVs make more sense. And the crocodile POV was actually pretty fun.

Something I’m not sure about: some of the characters were described as having red skin, which is a reference to the original, but I feel like that’s probably still offensive and could’ve been worded differently.

Now for the characters—and this is where I really have mixed feelings. Sometimes they were well-written (especially Mary and the whole situation with her and James’s dad), but occasionally something would irk me. Characters feelings towards other characters and things seemed like they were often changing, sometimes drastically. Sometimes characters would just be immature. But then, maybe things were, in fact, believable and just a part of those characters. Plenty of people in real life have immature moments or waver back and forth on their feelings.

Last but not least, James. He was pretty insufferable. That’s fair since Captain Hook is by no means a good person in the original, but I had been hoping for a more sympathetic version, so I wasn’t sure how I felt about that. Now that I’ve had some time to let the story marinate in my mind though, I feel like the author really did manage to capture his character and its different facets incredibly well by the end of the book. It’s not a sympathetic portrayal, but it feels like an accurate one, and I can definitely appreciate that.

Overall, though I had some issues, I didn’t have any strong dislikes. The author created an interesting and creative backstory to the island of Neverland and everything on it and really captured the essence of Hook (albeit before he was known as Hook). I’m looking forward to continuing this series, and I’m curious to see how the character of Peter will be portrayed and where the story will go next!


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  1. Suzanne @ The Bookish Libra

    Great review. This one has me curious as I’m always fascinated by villain stories. I would have expected a more sympathetic portrayal of Hook as well since that’s what most villain stories seem to do, but it sounds like doing the unexpected works in the end, which is good. I’m considering reading this one as part of my Retellings challenge this year.

    1. Kristen Burns

      Thanks! Yeah, I definitely was expecting a more sympathetic portrayal, but I enjoyed this one once I adjusted my expectations. I’ll be curious to see your thoughts if you read it!

  2. Nicole @ Feed Your Fiction Addiction

    A Captain Hook origin story does seem like it would be really interesting. Like you, I think I would have expected to see a sympathetic portrayal of him (sort of a “how did they get here” story)—I can see how that might throw you if that was your expectation.

    1. Kristen Burns

      It was kind of a “how did they get here” story since he didn’t start out running around murdering people, but I still can’t say he was sympathetic. I did enjoy it though once I adjusted my expectations.

  3. Brittany

    I don’t think I have ever read a prequel retelling, but it sounds really cool! I’m glad you enjoyed this one overall but I am sorry you didn’t like it more! 6 POVs is a LOT. Even if the next books are about them doesn’t mean they needed their own POV in this book.

    1. Kristen Burns

      I feel like prequel retellings are what I always end up with when it comes to retellings lol. I find a lot of books have too many POVs, tbh. Thanks, I’m glad I was able to enjoy this one regardless šŸ™‚

  4. Angela

    That’s pretty cool that the crocodile had a POV! I just read a Captain Hook origin story called Lost Boy by Christina Henry. It was really good, if you want to check another one out.

  5. Greg

    This makes me curious about the backstory, especially for Neverland, which has always been a kind of fascinating place- I mean it has all this stuff in such a small area! Pirates, mermaids, the Lost Boys, all that. I think I’d like that aspect of it, maybe? And the croc gets a POV too? šŸ™‚

    I’m not a huge Peter Pan fan but I can see this being a lot of fun!

  6. verushka

    Hook was always a one-not character for me in the movies that I’ve seen so this makes me so curious about how this backstory comes together for the character.

    1. Kristen Burns

      Idk what that means or if it was a typo? One-note, maybe? In the original book he’s very interesting! Idk about the movies. But I thought this backstory made a lot of sense!

  7. Olivia Roach

    I think when it comes to prequels and retellings I am all for people sticking true to the original in some ways – enough so that it is recognisable – but so that it can be obvious enough that it is connected to the original. I also really like the idea of making something original or unique about it too though. We don’t always want to see the same stories rehashed because otherwise, what is the point?

    It sounds like there were some good elements like the world building. But that pacing definitely sounds weird…

  8. Becky @ A Fool's Ingenuity

    Six POVs?! That’s a lot and would both slow the pace as you keep switching. I also get keeping to the original with these prequel/retelling but red skin? Yeah, no need to keep that close to the source material. If it’s offensive it can be removed. I guess with any book, there can be flaws. I’m glad overall you enjoyed it and want to continue on but I think a couple of your issues would have bothered me too.

    1. Kristen Burns

      Honestly at this point I’ve read so many books with way more than six that six doesn’t faze me all that much lol. But yeah, I still prefer only the completely necessary ones. Exactly, the book could’ve shown that there were natives without using that description. But thank you, it was still pretty good overall!

  9. Cee Arr

    I think the Native rep. here sounds kinda problematic in places – I get that the original was pretty racist in that respect, but you don’t have to stick to that!

    There’s an origin story for Hook in Fierce Fairytales by Nikita Gill, which, while not perfect, I loved because it was so sad! <3