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2 recently released books offer a spin on the story of Peter Pan

Posted July 13

These two recently released books offer a spin on the well-known story of Peter Pan.

*****

"UNHOOKED," by Lisa Maxwell, Simon Pulse, $17.99, 352 pages (f) (ages 14 and up)

Gwendolyn Allister is used to her mother continuously uprooting her with claims they are being followed. But when they move to London and their surroundings are stranger than usual, Gwen starts wondering if maybe her mother isn’t as crazy as she originally thought. Then, one dark night, Gwen and her best friend are kidnapped by otherworldly beings and taken to Neverland.

But this is not the magical world from Gwen’s childhood storybook. This strange, exotic land is full of deadly dangers and those who see Gwen only as a tool in a dark plot she cannot begin to fathom. As Gwen comes to know the brutal captain of a ship full of boys and also Pan, his nemesis, she realizes the only way she can return home is if she can figure out which boy she can trust.

Author Lisa Maxwell’s dark retelling of the story of Captain Hook, Peter Pan and the wondrous world of Neverland includes danger and mystery. The plot’s twists and turns can keep readers on their toes as they attempt to figure out why Hook and Pan are feuding and if there’s any hope of Gwen returning home. This book could probably be a lot shorter, but the adventurous scenes more than make up for any slow parts, and Maxwell is gifted at melding romance with dark adventure.

Although lightly based on the well-known story of Peter Pan, “Unhooked” is not a fairy tale. Rather, this book is geared toward young adults and contains hand-to-hand combat, many deaths and a handful of profanities. While there aren’t any sex scenes, there are several attempts at seduction.

A lifelong reader, Maxwell holds several English degrees. She lives in the D.C. area with her family.

— Elizabeth Reid

*****

"EVERLAND," by Wendy Spinale, Scholastic Press, $17.99, 312 pages (f) (ages 12 and up)

In an adventurous retelling of the story of Peter Pan, debut author and former Disneyland cast member Wendy Spinale weaves a story of danger, determination and heroism in her steampunk-influenced "Everland."

Teenager Gwen Darling is fighting to keep herself and her younger siblings, Joanna and Mikey, alive after London has been destroyed by bombs and an aggressive disease that killed all the adults and many children. Those who survived are at risk of never growing up because of the deadly Horologia virus. Girls are more at risk, yet Gwen has no symptoms, and Joanna's symptoms, though growing worse, are not as bad as they could be.

Searching for a girl believed to be the Immune is the teenage leader of the German army, Captain Hanz Otto Oswald Kretschmer, aka Hook. His Marauders patrol all of Everland in Steam Crawlers and zeppelins, looking for children. He takes the children for testing, and they are never seen again.

While Gwen is scavenging for food and supplies, Joanna is taken by the Marauders. Gwen must find her while protecting Mikey. She then meets Pete, leader of the Lost Boys, and Bella, a young girl with mechanical wings and a lot of spunk, who take them to the Underground below Everland.

Gwen and Mikey align with the Lost Boys, many of whom are showing signs of the virus, in an effort to rescue Joanna from Hook. With betrayal and oaths that can change or mean nothing, the group must be quick-thinking to outwit Hook and his Marauders.

As desperation and danger grows, Gwen will stop at nothing to rescue Joanna and protect her new friends, even if it costs her life.

“Everland” is a satisfying spin on a familiar tale that provides not only recognizable characters and plot but also many new and unexpected twists. Spinale skillfully creates a vivid world and lovable, strong characters while sprinkling in elements recognizable to Peter Pan fans.

"Everland" has no swearing or objectionable material. There is some described violence and somewhat intense danger scenes. Readers ages 12 and older are most likely to enjoy Spinale’s tale.

— Wendy Jessen

Elizabeth Reid has bachelor's degrees in economics and history. She has worked in retail, medical billing, catering, education and business fields. Her favorite occupation is that of wife and mother. She blogs at agoodreid.blogspot.com.

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