Review: Hook’s Revenge
Posted by Stephanie Whelan
Hook’s Revenge by Heidi Schulz, illustrated by John Hendrix (Disney-Hyperion, Expected Publication September 2014)
You know, I never was particularly in love with the original Peter Pan. I rather thought Peter Pan to be obnoxious and less than charming–and I wouldn’t have gone off with him and his jealous fairy girl for any amount of pixie dust. That said, the story and imagery are part of our Western storytelling. Peter Pan, Captain Hook and Tinkerbell are all instantly recognizable characters. And Neverland itself is a fantasy realm that captures the imaginations of many fantasy fans. And then Heidi Schulz comes along and gloriously gives us this story where Peter can just go soak his head.
Twelve-year-old Jocelyn Hook yearns to sail away with her dangerous pirate papa–anything to escape the prim and proper and confining world of her grandfather’s house and the horrid boarding school he’s sent her to. She wants swords and action, not embroidery and dancing! Jocelyn may have never met her father, but she’s sure he’ll come to get her eventually. And she loves the way mentioning her father makes everyone go pale and shudder. As things go from bad to worse at her boarding school, Jocelyn desperately wishes with all her heart to be whisked away on an adventure . . . and she gets her wish. It just isn’t quite what she imagined. She receives a long awaited letter from her father, only to discover he has been killed–and he now obliges her to seek revenge on the Croc that killed him. Jocelyn is off to Neverland, eager to take up the captain’s role and go off in search of that revenge , even if things aren’t quite as glorious as she’d like. And even if an annoying flying boy named Peter keeps asking if she needs rescuing from the pirates. Jocelyn’s determined to do her pirate papa proud!
Jocelyn’s got a lot of growing to do . . . and by the end of her adventure she’ll have come to discover some startling truths about Captain Hook, and about herself and have to make some hard choices about what she wants most out of her life.
There’s a lot to like in this story, especially if you wish to see the world of Neverland expanded upon . . . and Peter exposed as the annoying boy he happens to be. Jocelyn becomes a fully fleshed out character over the course of the story, and it’s wonderful to see her grow past her original fantasies of adventure and what her father is like and embrace her own strengths and ideals. Our protagonist is likable despite her piratical interests She’s fully happy to sneak spiders and snakes into her roommate’s beds at the Boarding School, but she balks at being truly wicked. She even finds ways of putting the things she’s learned at the dreadful boarding school to use! It still remains an outrageous tale with plenty of over-the-top moments. This is sort of a more villainess Dorathy in Oz kind of tale, full of colorful characters and wild encounters. Our scallywag narrator himself is a hoot and holler and I’m wondering who they’ll find for an audio on this.
Jocelyn’s best friend–a boy from the boarding school, Roger is a critical part of helping Jocelyn decide who she wants to be. At the school, he gives her a space to be herself, and a way to perform to the standards of the school without sacrificing who she is and letting the girls “win”. In Neverland, Jocelyn’s best friend is in need of saving, and Jocelyn must figure out how to do so before she loses him. For the most part Roger’s part to play in the story was enjoyable, but I found his “helping” of Jocelyn to be a little too convenient at times. Roger seems to lack flaws–being the perfect companion for the irascible Jocelyn.
The most troublesome part of the story for me is more that there’s so much care and color put into Jocelyn’s stay at the boarding school–complete with nasty girls and a cleverly cruel headmistress. We as readers invest quite a bit of time in this part of the story, and then suddenly we’re whisked off to Neverland, pirates and adventure without much more thought for the boarding school and what will go on there. While I enjoyed the earlier pieces of Jocelyn’s life at the school, it felt like there was too much time spent building it up when the story could have devoted more time to Neverland. While the pacing may not have been perfect, this is still a delightful romp of a read. Heidi Schulz displays a dazzling talent for storytelling and character, and readers will be clamoring for more of this pirate lass in no time!
Note: An advanced reader copy was provided by the publisher.
Expected Publication Date: September 2014
Recommended for grades 4 and up.
About Stephanie WhelanI'm a children's librarian with a life-long love of all things science fiction and fantasy.
Posted on July 28, 2014, in General Posts, Reviews and tagged Authors, Books, Children's Books, Children's Literature, fantasy, Historical Fantasy, literature, MG Books, Middle-Grade Fiction, Pirates, Reading, Science Fiction. Bookmark the permalink. 3 Comments.