When you read PETER PAN, what does Captain Hook’s voice sound like? Is it nasally and self-important like Dustin Hoffman’s portrayal in Hook or the animated Peter Pan? What if he sounded like and was as smart and cool as Peter O’Toole or Benedict Cumberbatch? A deep and resoundingly rich all-knowing tone like the ringing of the Liberty Bell, but funny and self-deprecating, too?
That would be the voice of Captain Hook in ALIAS HOOK, a fantastic new tome by Lisa Jensen in which she envisions Captain James Benjamin Hook as a witty, erudite, still-dashing villain/privateer who is doomed to spend eternity in the mobius strip of life in Neverland, always the villain, the captain of a ship called the Jolie Rouge,which must be forever involved in a pointless war that never ends. What a wonderful conceit…and Jensen mines it for all its worth.
"ALIAS HOOK is Peter Pan for grownups without losing any of the sense of wide-eyed adventure that makes the original story such a classic."
After losing a chance at real love, Hook has a dalliance with a difficult voodoo priestess on the beautiful island of Saint-Domingue, the same island and the same woman who put the curse on him that now keeps him forever in Neverland. So when Hook meets a foreboding woman, a grown lady named Stella Parish, who somehow ends up in Neverland, going against the wishes of Peter Pan, she discovers magical creatures and events that Hook himself has never had the good fortune to discover. Of course, the real Hook is a discovery all in himself, for Stella and for the land with which he is in constant battle. It’s a good setup for a strange and provocative love story, isn’t it?
Pan and the Lost Boys are in pursuit of Stella; she is ruining their endless game, and they need to put a stop to it. In the meantime, she may be the last vestige of hope for Hook, and so begins a race to the finish that brings to a child’s wonderland a sense of adult savvy and cunning. ALIAS HOOK is Peter Pan for grownups without losing any of the sense of wide-eyed adventure that makes the original story such a classic.
I was never much of a fan of the actual J. M. Barrie book. It went a little long for me and didn’t have as many smart and savvy females in it to maintain my interest as a kid. However, ALIAS HOOK manages to find the right tone between the original fantasy and the contemporary re-imagining of the redemptive journey of one of English literature’s most damning villains. Jensen gives Hook a wonderfully funny yet nasty tone and brings the character to life for a whole new generation of readers. Of course, PETER PAN was always about not growing up. But in ALIAS HOOK, we get a sense of what it would be like if the wily Captain was not devoured by the alligator and went on to a fascinating new life in his golden years. It is the ultimate retirement adventure, a la Cocoon, and gives not just Hook but the legend of Pan a fantastic leap into the future of storytelling.
ALIAS HOOK can sit rightfully atop the original tome and extend the legend, so that getting thrown out of Neverland doesn’t seem so awful anymore…nor does being an adult.
Reviewed by Jana Siciliano on August 22, 2014