I've been a fan of James M. Barrie's Peter Pan since I was a child. Even before seeing the animated Disney film, I owned an illustrated book on tape that nearly became worn out from use. I enjoyed Robin Williams' interesting take on the boy who finally grew up. And I continue to enjoy the series of books that Dave Barry and Ridley Pearson have written for children in their Peter and the Starcatchers series. So, I am certainly not a Pan purist. Playing with the mythology a bit can be fun.
When Andrea Jones' Hook & Jill arrived for my review, I was more than eager to fly back to the Neverland and spend some time with Peter Pan, Wendy and Captain Hook. The beautiful cover art was very enticing, promising a lush, exciting adventure. I expected some twists and turns with the mythology of the story, and this book certainly delivered.
Jones is clearly a well-educated and experienced writer. This may be her first book, but she exhibits much experience in her craft. However, I found this book a bit of a challenge to get into at first. I found Andrea's writing to be lush, but at the same time I was frequently disoriented, not understanding some of the narrative leaps in the story. This may be due to my weaknesses as a reader, as opposed to any fault in her writing.
Hook & Jill's characters are all the ones we've come to love in the Neverland, but they all develop in ways that I never expected. Evil characters become decidedly less evil, heroes become murderers. Attraction blooms in surprising places. In short, much of the world of Peter Pan is turned upside-down. Jones does show her respect and admiration for Barrie's source material, but she just develops the characters in ways that he may not have done himself, in my opinion.
Unfortunately, I came to dislike this book immensely. I did have one particular night when I got caught up in the story, was enjoying it and had hopes for the rest of the novel. In fact, I stayed up too late reading! However, for the majority of my read I was in states of confusion, disbelief and even revulsion. There were many times when I wanted to put the book down and walk away. But as a reviewer, I felt obligated to finish in order to provide an honest, complete critique.
Having said all this, my qualms with the book come mostly from my own personal preferences and weaknesses. Jones' writing is rich and colorful, almost poetic at times. My frequent inability to follow her train of thought probably stems from inexperience on my part. Seasoned readers will probably enjoy her style of writing more than I did.
Addressing my personal preferences: There's quite a bit of sexual content in this. I'm not adverse to romance, but I think I enjoy the likes of Jane Austen and other writers who don't feel the need to spell out every tawdry moment in lusty, explicit detail. If you're into saucy, steamy tales that get you hot under the collar, this one's for you.
I've read several reviews of Hook & Jill, and in many ways I agree with the positive opinions expressed in them. Jones is a talented writer who clearly has a love for James Barrie's Neverland. Her upcoming sequel, Other Oceans, will certainly be well-reviewed by many. If you're up for a tawdry, magical adventure in Neverland, the world of Hook & Jill is for you. I enjoy a fun, magical adventure. But in this case I would have preferred more romance over H&J's explicit sexual content. There are better ways to address the hints of romance that have always been inherent within Peter Pan. For me, this was just wasn't it.
This book was provided free of any obligation by Publishing Works, Inc. No monetary or any other form of compensation was received. Publishing Works was launched in 2003 as an independent press specializing in regional titles. Since then, the company has grown dramatically to embody a list of titles that spans diverse genres, age levels, and subject matter. Please visit them at their website, www.publishingworks.com, or view their catalog for a complete list of titles.
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**CONTEST NOW CLOSED**
I may not have been enamored with this book, but I'm sure there are those out there who would love it. If you'd like to have my copy, I'll ship it out to the winner of this giveaway.
Here are the contest rules:
- Leave a comment below; this counts as your entry.
- Entries accepted until 11:59pm on Saturday, February 13th
- Open to U.S. addresses only.
- Make sure your posted comment includes your email address.
- I will compile the entries and the winner will be chosen by Random.org, so even one entry can make you a winner!
- Should you win, I will contact you on Sunday the 14th. Please take measures to ensure that my email will not hit your spam folder, lest you miss my message! (CalicoCritic@gmail.com) You'll have 72 hours to respond before I pick another winner.
- More information on the giveaway policies can be found on the Contact / Policies page.
Bonus Entries (Please make note of your bonus entries in your comment):
- Follow the blog by clicking on the Google "Follow" button on my sidebar (old or new followers both get the bonus entry, just let me know you're following).
- Follow me (@LHartness) on Twitter (Please tell me your @UserName).
- Tweet about this giveaway on Twitter; be sure to use @LHartness and an URL to this contest in your tweet. You may do this as much as every 8 hours a day between now and February 13th. For each tweet, please come back and post the URL link to that specific tweet, not just your @Username. Here's an example of a Tweet, which I posted at about 11:30am on 1/30/10. Feel free to copy any part of it to retweet:
My review of Andrea Jones' "Hook & Jill" is up, and I'm offering my copy up in a giveaway. http://ead2afc1.qvvo.comAnd here's the direct URL to that specific tweet: