Hooked Review
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A modern-day retelling of Grimms’ fairytale about the fisherman and his wife, Jane May’s Hooked tells the story of Clarence “Woody” Woods, a humble dock boy at a Miami yacht club. By day, Woody helps South Florida’s rich and famous care for their massive yachts—and he helps their spoiled children learn to sail. At night, he gets in his old pickup and returns to the home he shares with his politically zealous aunt, Katherine, and his beloved dog, Sweetie, to work on the Sea Sponge, the boat he plans to sail around the world.

But one day, while Woody’s teaching one of the club’s new members to run his new boat, he takes some time to do some fishing. His only catch is a giant talking tuna, who begs Woody to let him go. In return, the fish—who claims to be a cursed car salesman, formerly known as Raymond Prince—says he’ll give Woody anything he wants.

The only thing Woody really wants is Madalina, a gorgeous new waitress who just started working at the club. Woody asks Prince for a little bit of help with Madalina, and it helps him get her attention. But when the Romanian beauty discovers Woody’s secret, she starts making some demands of her own.

Despite the imaginative and even intriguing concept, Hooked falls short in execution. May’s version of the story is unsatisfying—especially the cheap, cliché ending, which is anything but imaginative. In fact, it’s the kind of ending that will make anyone who’s done a decent amount of reading feel ripped off.

But it’s not just the ending that’s unsatisfying in Hooked. Clearly, May is somewhat preoccupied with male genitalia, as she spends much of the book discussing the genitalia of her male characters—and the state thereof. She makes sure that her readers always know when her main character is sporting his namesake (which is often)—and, after once or twice, not only does it feel immature, but it also detracts from the story. The same is true of Madalina’s Romanian accent, which feels entirely unnecessary—and distracting (not to mention corny).

On top of all that, May’s choppy, uneven writing style makes it challenging to wade through the story. It’s just not a smooth, easy read—as a modern-day fairy tale should be.

Though the book’s idea was a creative one—one that could have made for a fun read—Hooked isn’t the light, entertaining catch that I’d wished for. If you end up with this one on your hook, it’s best to throw it back.

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