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Capt. Hook: The Adventures of a Notorious Youth Hardcover – Bargain Price, August 23, 2005

4.1 out of 5 stars 36 customer reviews

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Hardcover, Bargain Price, August 23, 2005
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Editorial Reviews

From School Library Journal

Grade 6 Up–Opening with young James's arrival at Eton and following him to the beginning of his life at sea, this is a disturbing and engaging portrait of a young villain. At school, he feuds with the young Arthur Darling and falls in love with the forbidden Sultana Ananova. After taking his revenge on Darling and pursuing Ananova, James and his friend Roger join the crew of the Sea Witch, a ragged ship with a cruel captain. When its identity as a slave ship is revealed, James sides with the slaves to earn his own name, Hook. Throughout the story, his dreams of finding a magical Neverland set the stage for his future role in Barrie's classic story. Hart, whose screenwriting credits include the movie Hook, has taken information from Barrie's Peter Pan, including his protagonist's attendance at Eton, his yellow blood, and his unusual appearance, and used it to create a character of his own. James's illegitimate status and its prominence in the story seems to be Hart's own invention, and while it provides ample motivation for James's actions, it takes away from the story's appeal to younger Peter Pan fans, who may also be confused by some aspects of British school life. This is a much darker Pan prequel than Dave Barry and Ridley Pearson's Peter and the Starcatchers (Hyperion, 2004). Helquist's illustrations add slightly to the text, but seem an attempt to appeal to Unfortunate Events fans. Overall, this is a detailed look both at Victorian life and what a young Hook may have been like.–Beth L. Meister, Pleasant View Elementary School, Franklin, WI
Copyright © Reed Business Information, a division of Reed Elsevier Inc. All rights reserved.

From Booklist

Gr. 7-10. Hart wrote the screenplay for the 1991 film Hook and in this sprawling novel, he imagines the notorious villain's troubled youth. When he enters England's storied Eton school as a teen, James (the future Hook) has never known his mother and has only met his aristocratic father a few times. He channels his loneliness and rage into superior scholarship, plotting wild "devices of revenge" against sadistic classmates. At last, he escapes to the high seas, but he unwittingly boards a slave ship that reveals horrifying brutality and family secrets. Hart's novel is much more challenging and dense than Peter and the Starcatchers (2004), Ridley Pearson's and Dave Barry's spin on the Peter Pan story. The elevated language, slow pacing, and lengthy specifics of swordplay and Etonian culture may deter some readers; others may be startled by the bloody torture, both at school and at sea. Still, some determined, sophisticated readers will be pulled in by the magical, tall-tale details; James' triumph over bullies; the exciting adventures; and the thought-provoking portrait of a villain who is capable of both murder and great sympathy. Gillian Engberg
Copyright © American Library Association. All rights reserved
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Product Details

  • Age Range: 10 and up
  • Grade Level: 5 and up
  • Hardcover: 352 pages
  • Publisher: HarperCollins (August 23, 2005)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 0060002204
  • ASIN: B001G8WMKQ
  • Product Dimensions: 6 x 1.2 x 9 inches
  • Shipping Weight: 1.4 pounds
  • Average Customer Review: 4.1 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (36 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #2,279,994 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

Customer Reviews

Top Customer Reviews

By Jacob on August 28, 2005
Format: Hardcover
Very intriguing and well written. Not recommended for younger readers. The book develops Capt Hook's character much more fully than "Peter Pan," explaining and humanizing the antagonist exponentially.
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Format: Hardcover
Challenging! You may need an Etonian English dictionary to understand some of the terms though. Such a great book, I hope this is a start of a series to come.
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Format: Hardcover Verified Purchase
What kind of a childhood results in becoming one of the literary world's greatest villains? According to J.L. Hart's vision of Captain Hook, a childhood of abandonment, isolation, and too much time spent alone reading history books, created a young man motivated by revenge and with an obsession to prove he is superior to everyone else. James Matthew is suspicious when the father he has never known, a powerful lord, sends him to an elite boarding school to finish his education. James knows he will be never fit in, and he arrives angry and determined to destroy anyone who gives him a hard time. The middle of the story drags. There is hazing by upperclassmen towards the newbies, a hugely important sports event that James uses to humiliate his enemies, and a weird love-at-first-sight between James and a beautiful princess visiting from the Middle East. Of course, the romance results in James being expelled from school, and his father sending him to work on one of the family's trading ships heading across the ocean. Captain Hook is a dark story. James Matthew is creepy and violent. He is not a likable protagonist. The crisis and climax of the story are set up to redeem James and show that he a just and compassionate person, but that did not ring true. Why does a desire for justice and compassion show up in James when he is on the ship when there was never a glimmer of either quality while he was at the school? That said, readers who are curious about Captain Hook or fans of adventure stories will probably enjoy Captain Hook. A few may even look forward to the sequel.
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Format: Hardcover
Finally, someone has gotten around to telling the story of the real hero of Neverland (as far as there are any heroes, in a place into which you escape in order to avoid dealing with everyday life).

Young James Matthew, a victim of societal hypocrisy, is sent to a sadistic school and systematically abused. He remains brave, clever and possessed of a sense of fair play his enemies utterly lack. The fact that he is also something of a psychopath is unfortunate, but undeniably helpful in dealing with the British public school system.

The concerned parent need not be alarmed at the reviews citing instances of torture in this book; they amount to a description of a public school caning and an especially violent football game. Kids raised on the Lemony Snicket series will shrug them off easily (and the publisher is clearly aiming at older Unfortunate Events readers, to judge from the packaging and choice of Snicket's illustrator-- Brett Helquist).

Marvelously subversive, the book's only real problem is that Mr. Hart is a better scriptwriter than a prose writer, and it shows. Flaws in his command of language are outweighed by his enthusiasm and obvious love of his subject, however. His story passes the acid test-- does the book seem to end too soon? Do you want to know what happened to the characters afterward? It did. I did. And you will.
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A Kid's Review on September 27, 2005
Format: Hardcover
Capt. Hook is a cool book with action, adventure, and surprise on every page! If I could I would read it over and over again! James.V. Hart is a spectacular and unique writer. This was his first novel and probably one of best!I love to read, and if I could I would give this book one-thousand stars! My heart was skipping a beat every sentence and word I read. The book was so good I wished there could be ten more books. It was a great, great,ect. book!
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Format: Hardcover
Young James Matthew was not destined to have an easy life, much less a happy one. The illegitimate son of a prominent English lord and a mother he never knew, James is raised by his Aunt Emily and is given the sort of schooling that any young boy of an aristocratic background would be expected to learn --- including swordfighting --- which James naturally succeeds at.

When he is accepted into the famous Eton, it quickly becomes apparent from his shadowy past and unusual appearance that James is quite different from his high-collared peers. He becomes fierce rivals with a Colleger named Arthur L. Darling and strikes up an unlikely friendship with a fellow Oppidan named Roger Peter Davies, aka Jolly Roger. Through his undeniable brilliance, "mutant" traits and spine-tingling bond with pet spiders, James --- or King Jas --- lives up to being a notorious Eton Blue.

As a reward for his achievements, Jas finally receives acknowledgment that he secretly craved from his absent father, Lord B. Unfortunately, James realizes that old habits are hard to break and that his father's attention is not kind. When James causes an international scandal by falling in love with a spirited Sultana named Ananova, his beliefs are confirmed that he must forge a path for himself by any means necessary. While Jas dreams of becoming the king of his own magical island called Neverland, he soon spirals into a nightmare that could mean the end of the future Capt. Hook.

CAPT. HOOK is not the children's story it may first appear to be. It is a creative tale of the infamous villain of PETER PAN that is geared toward a slightly older audience.
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