Warnings: mentions of suicide and self-harm, adult in relationship with minor.
Rating: 2/5 stars
This is one I picked up awhile ago but haven’t had time to read, and it took me an additional few days to decide what my thoughts on it are. The book follows Peter Pan’s Captain Hook on his journey from boyhood to famed and feared pirate scourge of Neverland. It follows the mythos of Hook originally being a lost boy until Peter tried to kill him for being to old, forcing him out onto the seas to become the captain everyone knows.
Thing is, it didn’t exactly have a plot to it. It was more of a biography of James Hook, following his whole life from the time he was 12 to in his early 20s. It was never dull enough to get me to stop reading, but it dragged a lot because it wasn’t really building to any one specific point. Not only that, but there wasn’t really anything unique about this iteration of Captain Hook. You always knew exactly where things were going because they always followed the original story so closely. Every time there was a glimmer of a more original element it didn’t last for more than a chapter or two.
Then there was Hook himself. It felt like the author tired to make him an attractive version of the Disney iteration of the character, but it didn’t work for me because he was so close to the Disney iteration that was ALL I could picture. I couldn’t see him as the suave, attractive young pirate that Shrum seemed to be aiming for, just the queer-coded villain from my childhood. It repeatedly pulled me out of the world of the book which was rather jarring.
But here’s the thing that nearly made me put the book down: Hook and Tiger Lily. Putting aside the racism issues that always come up with Tiger Lily for just a moment, she does have the potential to be an interesting and good character. She was not in this book. She was merely a love interest for Hook, and it was an affair that started when she was in her mid-teens and he in his very early 20s. There’s also a lot of discussions of Tiger Lily “growing up” for Hook and while I realize that, in the context of Neverland where you legitimately choose if you grow up or not, this has a bit of a different connotation than in the real world it still felt very skeevy.
The whole book lacked a lot of emotional depth as well. Hook clearly suffers from depression and frequently contemplates suicide but it always feels very superficial, as does everything else he does. Everything from his rage to his happy moments don’t feel earned, they just happen–another thing that contributes to the plodding nature of the book.
Overall, it wasn’t the worst book I’ve ever read. I WAS able to get through the whole thing, but there was a lot that put me off as well. It wouldn’t be a terrible lazy weekend read where you’re just looking for something light, but beyond that I don’t know that I’d recommend it.