Book Review: Unhooked by Lisa Maxwell

Gwen has spent her whole life being shuffled around the world because of her mother's fears about monsters hunting them, but when Gwen finally gets tired of it one night and doesn't heed her mother's warnings, she and her best friend get kidnapped by terrifying creatures and taken to a land very different from their own. All Gwen wants is to get back home, but first she'll first have to figure out whether to trust the roguish pirate or the beautiful, magical boy, all while long-forgotten memories start resurfacing.

Book Review: Unhooked by Lisa Maxwell | reading, books, book reviews, fantasy, paranormal/urban fantasy, young adult, faeries
Title: Unhooked
Pages: 368
My Rating: 3 Stars
More Info: Goodreads, Amazon, Publisher


I’m just going to get straight to the point and say this book wasn’t necessarily bad, but it disappointed me, and here are the reasons why:

– The blurb and title made me think it would have Captain Hook, but there was no Hook. Why is the word hook in the title??? It also wasn’t really a retelling, just kind of inspired by Peter Pan. *SPOILER* In the world of Unhooked, the story of Peter Pan existed, and the characters speculated that maybe Barrie had been to the island they were on and based Peter Pan off of it. So when boys ended up on this island, they just assumed it was Neverland and that the one guy was Peter (although from what I understand, he wasn’t really). And Rowan just took on the role of the villain against Pan because he started to see Pan for the cruel, power-hungry person he really was. *END SPOILER* So my expectations for this book were just way off.

– The disability rep didn’t seem great. Rowan was missing a hand but had a magical, mechanical hand that worked just as perfectly as a flesh one. There was one point when Rowan said he got his arm enchanted so that he could “stand against [Pan] as a true equal,” implying that he couldn’t be equal without it. I might be reading too much into that, but there was another point when Rowan said, “It might not be so bad if I didn’t have to remember what it was to be whole,” and then Gwen thought, “I want to tell him he’s still whole, but I don’t feel like muddying whatever it is growing between us with lies.” I try to be understanding that characters aren’t perfect and that a character’s thoughts aren’t the same as a book’s message, and I’m ok with Rowan feeling however he feels, but having an able-bodied character imply that people without fully functioning limbs are not whole, combined with the other things, just left a bad taste in my mouth.

– Gwen could be frustrating. There was this whole “I was just kidnapped by monsters I didn’t know existed, and now I’m being held captive in the middle of nowhere, and my captor seems heartless and cruel—but oh hey, he’s hot and being near him makes me feel all tingly inside” thing. And she got on her moral high horse when Rowan did anything less than perfect (even if he had a good reason) and automatically believed everything Pan said against him… but every time Pan did something terrible or someone tried to tell her about him, she brushed it off or hesitated to believe.

– Rowan felt flat and cliche—the love interest who’s done bad things but is still good and is full of self-loathing for the bad things.

– The book was slow and never really gripped me.

But overall the story was kind of unique and seemed to make sense. Maybe I would’ve enjoyed the book more if I hadn’t been expecting and wanting the actual Captain Hook. Especially since this was based on the original rather than the Disney version (i.e. everything is terrifying)—another point in its favor.

Gwen was also an alright character, aside from the things I mentioned above. She never gave up trying to escape and survive, no matter how bad the situation seemed. And despite her attraction to Rowan, she never lost sight of her goal to get herself and her friend back home.

So I was disappointed by the disability rep and the lack of Captain Hook, but if you go into it with different expectations than I did, you might enjoy it more.


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  1. Becky @ A Fool's Ingenuity

    Oh wow I thought this would update be a you book since I thought it was a retelling but seems it’s not so much a retelling as inspired by? And that disability rep doesn’t sound good. Don’t want to lie that he’s not whole? And a magical fix so there’s nothing wrong? That doesn’t sound good. I’ll give this one a hard pass.

    1. Kristen Burns

      YOU KNOW ME SO WELL, BECKY. It was definitely more inspired by than retelling. I was so disappointed by the lack of Captain Hook. Ugh, yeah. It was basically just no rep because of the enchanted prosthetic, but that’s in so many books that I was willing to just mention it in the review and brush it off. But then there were the other things, and in the end it just seemed like the disability was only included for plot stuff and to make the love interest more broody or something and to make him similar to Hook… even though Hook actually loved his hook.

  2. Di @ Book Reviews by Di

    Sorry you didn’t love this one. It’s sort of been low key on my radar since I read The Last Magician and enjoyed it however I haven’t actually read the sequel. It might be one that I would still enjoy, especially knowing where to have my expectations!

  3. Nicole @ Feed Your Fiction Addiction

    I guess Rowan was supposed to represent Captain Hook, so that’s the deal with the title? But I agree that my expectations would have been different. And it’s a shame that the disability rep wasn’t great. I’ve been curious about this book, but not enough to pick it up. Don’t think I’ll rush to it now either, even though it does seem like it has some positives.

    1. Kristen Burns

      I mean, yes, he was supposed to represent Hook because he took on the role of antagonist to the guy who took on the role of Peter Pan, but the title still made me expect the actual Captain Hook :-/ And I definitely found the disability questionable. But no, the book wasn’t all bad.

  4. Olivia Roach

    Yeah, I have expected one thing from a book and got something entirely different. And it’s always a struggle when the expectations were your own fault and not on mismarketing because then you know it’s not a bad book, just not what you hoped it to be. But this does sound a bit confusing with the intention of it including Hook but then not doing so? I remember seeing this one around when it came out and I ultimately decided not to pick it up? I’m sort of glad because the disability rep sounds real dodgy to me >.> And it just doesn’t sound like the most thrilling book. A shame it wasn’t what you hoped it to be :/

    1. Kristen Burns

      It’s definitely tough when a book doesn’t meet your expectations, and it does sometimes affect your enjoyment. Although idk if this was my fault or the fault of the marketing since it doesn’t say in the blurb that it’s Hook, but it mentions a pirate and the title has the word hook in it, so I do feel misled :-/ But yeah the disability rep seemed dodgy to me. Overall not really a book for me.