Tuesday, March 31, 2015

Hook's Revenge by Heidi Schulz

Hook's Revenge by Heidi Schulz is, as you might have guessed, another Peter Pan spinoff.

Jocelyn Hook's grandfather has never been able to mold her into a proper young lady, so when he decides that the situation is beyond him, he ships her off to boarding school. Between tyrannical teachers and mean-girl students, Jocelyn's life at school is sheer misery. Only two things keep her from complete despair: her friendship with Roger the kitchen boy, and her dream that someday her famous father, Captain James Hook himself, will whisk her away to a life of piracy and adventure. The latter never exactly happens -- instead, Jocelyn learns that her father has been killed by the Neverland Crocodile, and her only inheritance is a quest for vengeance. Jocelyn is to travel to Neverland, assemble a pirate crew, and lead an attack on the foul beast. And, because the headmistress of the boarding school sent Roger away for being too familiar with the students (well, just Jocelyn, really), she'll have to do it without the help of her loyal best friend. But anything is better than boarding school right?

To a young reader who has encountered few Peter Pan spinoffs and maybe only a couple of books about rambunctious girls confined to prim and proper boarding schools, this will be an enjoyable read. I thought the dialogue was uneven: sparkling and witty in some places, but stilted in others. The book is narrated by an irascible old pirate whose identity is never explicitly divulged (this bothered me a little; I thought there were hints in the text and was disappointed when they came to nothing in the end). There's plenty of humor, action, and adventure, but I didn't find this a can't-put-it-down read for all that. I can't quite put my finger on what it is about this story that just didn't work for this jaded adult reader, but I'd recommend it only for young readers or truly fanatical Peter Pan enthusiasts. While this book ends conclusively, there are also a few hints that this may be only the first of Jocelyn's adventures -- but it's unlikely that I'll be sailing with her in the future.

(Reviewed from an advance copy, courtesy of the publisher.)

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