Eve is not your ordinary high school student. Imprisoned by alienation, isolation, self-contempt and loathing she struggles to fit in amongst a concrete jungle. On the verge of despair and giving up a new boy is in town, Rocky. Virtually sweeping her off her feet, Eve wonders if Rocky is the real deal or a figment of her imagination. As her world is turned upside down a life altering decision must be made that could very well affect alter the course of mankind as we know it. Will Eve overcome the obstacles that lie ahead or will she remain hooked?
Hooked: A True Fairie Tale is an ambitious deconstruction of a popular bed time fairy tale with a contemporary twist. While engaged in creative writing studies I was once given an assignment to draft a deconstruction of a classic tale with an original theme. The project intrigued me as I’d read other renditions of Cinderella, Sleeping Beauty and Robin Hood. Essentially the raw bones of the story remain intact with the author’s unique branding of a timeless classic. Collings’ version of this adaptation is no exception to originality as his endeavor is bound to entice a brand new generation of avid readers.
The story begins slowly and we really don’t sense any resemblance to folklore or fable which lures us deeper. We explore the action, dialogue and exposition further constantly looking for clues or hints upon how this could be labelled a fairy tale. We’re pleasantly surprised to see the conflict escalation and how it subtly presents itself.
We spend a considerable amount of time getting to know Eve, a goth/emo teen with a cutting and self-mutilation affliction. Our lead protagonist is perpetually bullied and has not a solitary friend or confidante with the exception of her alcoholic mother and incapacitated grandmother. It’s commendable to see Collings compose the tale with a young female as the lead. It’s no easy feat to capture her very realistic, very human emotions. Her plight comes across very fluently and naturally and we don’t even begin to question the authenticity. Collings ability to hone in on a very different persona is testament to a veteran author capable of illustrating a myriad of expression.
The secondary characters Rocky as well as Eve’s classroom adversaries are depicted effectively. We believe their actions, motives and sociological status. Without a firm, believable antagonist and protagonist simply appears transparent and holds little water in terms of relevance. Collings makes his characters larger than life regardless of their stand point and we strive to unfold what happens in each of their circumstances.
A transformation of sorts becomes evident in Eve. Her rise in self-esteem and confidence is worth the price of admission alone. In a society where bullying is not tolerated yet continues to exist, many readers will readily relate with the characters making this story that much more personal to each.
This is the third endeavor I’ve been fortunate enough to read from Collings. He always has a dependable, solid foundation for prose, voice and vocabulary. It’s designed distinctly unique from other authors and truly does not carbon copy that of any other writer’s style. At times one has to wonder if perhaps a Reader’s Digest daily vocabulary calendar somehow comes into the equation. But in all seriousness one thing a reader can always depend upon is a refreshing change to come away upon conclusion having learned a thing or two. Collings refuses to harp upon the mundane.
Within the first third or so of the novel I felt it could have been pruned back just slightly to avoid the occasional reader’s distraction. In an technological age where attention has become a virtue, I’m concerned that some new readers may get lost in the slowly conjuring conflict or character development. It’s a gradual mood heightening that many readers will undoubtedly savour, yet some of the text may wear thin upon a new audience before they get the chance to truly enjoy the adventure.
The final act presents a dramatic conclusion we don’t anticipate, unveiling the true essence of the fairy tale theme making this a potential classic for the ages.
Book Review: Hooked: A True Fairie Tale – Author Michael Brent Collings