Lisa Jensen, Alias Hook (2014)
Within its technicolor Victorian exterior, Peter Pan surely embodies one of the most bizarre legends of childhood ever created. With its mishmash of confused feelings about death, domesticity, female sexuality, and male aggression, the tale of the boy who refuses to grow up retains its hold on our imaginations, no doubt because these remain areas that confound and perplex us. But for some readers, including me, there’s something unsatisfying about it. What about a story that shows how there is actually magic in growing up, rather than just in avoiding it?
With Alias Hook, Lisa Jensen has created a past and a future for Pan’s grown-up nemesis, Captain Hook, that turns the story on its head. In this version, an adult is trapped in a child’s dream, which for him becomes an eternal nightmare. He can only be released by coming to terms with his feelings about death, domesticity, female sexuality, and male aggression.
This idea could have resulted in a dull sort of polemical tract, but Jensen makes her twisted tale just as thrilling and captivating as the original — in a decidedly adult way. Her reimaginings of the worlds of the pirates, fairies, Indians, and mermaids are solidly convincing, adding details and nuances that are lacking in Barrie’s cartoonish child’s-eye portrayal. And the central romance between Hook and a grown-up woman who makes her way to the Neverland, contrary to all of the little tyrant Pan’s rules, is both sexy and touching.
Ironically, as our sympathies transfer to Hook and Peter Pan becomes the villain, it causes us to wonder what caused him to cling so tenaciously to his sad, loveless childhood, and when he will get his chance at redemption. Topic for another book? I wouldn’t be sorry to see it, or anything else from the pen of Lisa Jensen. She’s an author worth watching.
Paperback release date: May 1, 2015
Published by Thomas Dunne in 2014
Format: Hardcover from Publisher
A copy was received for review purposes from the publisher. No other compensation was received, and all opinions expressed are my own.