I’ll admit right from the start that I was really disappointed when the rights to J.M. Barrie’s Peter Pan finally expired and suddenly there were a lot (in my opinion) of books set in the Pan universe. There are some stories that lend themselves to further adventures with additional characters and there are other stories that should probably just remain ‘sacred’ and left alone.
So why did I request and read this book? The Disney company certainly has a stake in maintaining the Pan series and ‘doing it right’ since their animated film remains pretty iconic, so if I was going to read any new Pan story, going through Disney publishing seemed the safest route.
In The Pirate Code (which is the second book in the Hook’s Revenge series by Heidi Schulz), the story revolves around Jocelyn Hook, the daughter of the (in)famous Captain Hook who squared off against Peter Pan. She has taken after her father and commands her own the crew pirates (including Smee and Starkey). She decides to search for her father’s fortune, which should be pretty easy since he left her a map, but Jocelyn discovers that being a pirate commander is challenging work (which includes fighting off other pirates), and that just because she has a map doesn’t mean understanding and following it will be easy.
I liked that this story wasn’t about Peter Pan or Wendy or any of the ‘obvious’ heroes from Barrie’s story, but that we could still recognize Neverland through some of the locations, situations, and supporting characters. This definitely made the read more enjoyable for me. It is, of course, a little bit brilliant to feature a young girl in a strong role. The Peter Pan tale will bring in a number of readers, likely many of them young boys, but the strong girl will hopefully bring new readers into Neverland.
And I also liked the character of Jocelyn. Strong, driven, but young and flawed. She’s nothing like her buffoonish father, and she’s a lot like him at the same time.
What I didn’t care for was that this was set in Neverland at all. Really, there’s nothing here that couldn’t have been set in its own unique world. But we’re clearly trying to draw on the Peter Pan/Neverland names.
I’m also not a fan of romanticizing villains in children’s literature. Pirates are not cute and clumsy characters and we do a disservice to paint them as such.
While I enjoyed the character of Jocelyn (despite being a pirate), I felt the book lacked a tight focus. The narrative asides really took me out of the story rather than making things clearer.
All things considered, this was a pretty average read. Hard to recommend but just as hard to dissuade anyone from reading it.
Looking for a good book? Hook’s Revenge: The Pirate Code by Heidi Schulz is a book set in Neverland but featuring the daughter of Captain Hook, now commanding her own pirate crew. The development of a strong female in a known setting makes this exciting, but the telling of the story doesn’t always live up to that excitement.
I received a digital copy of this book from the publisher, through Netgalley, in exchange for an honest review.
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The Pirate Code
author: Heidi Schulz
series: Hook’s Revenge #2
hardcover, 352 pages