Thursday, February 07, 2013

Tiger Lily by Jodi Lynn Anderson

Before Peter Pan belonged to Wendy, he belonged to the girl with the crow feather in her hair. . . .
Fifteen-year-old Tiger Lily doesn't believe in love stories or happy endings. Then she meets the alluring teenage Peter Pan in the forbidden woods of Neverland and immediately falls under his spell.
Peter is unlike anyone she's ever known. Impetuous and brave, he both scares and enthralls her. As the leader of the Lost Boys, the most fearsome of Neverland's inhabitants, Peter is an unthinkable match for Tiger Lily. Soon, she is risking everything—her family, her future—to be with him. When she is faced with marriage to a terrible man in her own tribe, she must choose between the life she's always known and running away to an uncertain future with Peter.
With enemies threatening to tear them apart, the lovers seem doomed. But it's the arrival of Wendy Darling, an English girl who's everything Tiger Lily is not, that leads Tiger Lily to discover that the most dangerous enemies can live inside even the most loyal and loving heart.

The Peter Pan story has been retold a zillion times. Some were good, some not so much. But I don’t remember one that’s all about Tiger Lily and Tinker Bell. I was intrigued, so I decided to give this book a try.

The thing I liked most about this story is how different Neverland is. It’s nothing like the image that Disney created. You don’t get there by flying (in fact, there isn’t any flying). It’s an island that people only seem to find after being shipwrecked, and no one ever seems to be able to leave (because of whatever natural disaster brought them there in the first place). It’s inhabited by plenty of people, some native and some not, and you grow up until you just stop growing. You could be ten or eighty when you stop growing, and the reason for this isn’t known. I like how much time the author spent figuring out the rules of this place, and, even though it was nothing like I expected, it was my favorite part of the story.

I also liked how she reimagined the characters. Tink isn’t Peter’s best buddy. If fact, she’s hardly noticed by anyone—which, I’m sure, is why she’s the narrator. She can get in anywhere and spy without anyone giving her a second thought. I think this makes her an effective storyteller, and I think it fits with the characters of both Peter and Tiger Lily.

Peter isn’t a little boy in this book. He’s a teenager, hormones and all, showing classic signs of ADHD. But there wasn’t much more to him than that. I get that the halt in growing can also make a person static, and that might have been the reason for the stunt in his character growth, but I would have liked to see more depth to him.

Tiger Lily was completely intriguing in the beginning. She’s a strong character with an interesting adoptive father, Tik Tok. Her world is violent, which has made her violent—and a survivor, and everyone seems to accept this as the status quo. I thought this gave the world more layers, which I was happy to delve in to. But the more we saw, the more I didn’t quite understand.

Since Neverland and Peter were so different, I was hoping for more of that difference. But we don’t really get it. Tiger Lily is your typical tom-boy and never really grows beyond that. Wendy is the ultimate girly-girl and never really grows beyond that. Peter is a clueless teenage boy and never grows beyond that. I get that people stop growing in Neverland, but I thought this was taken a bit too far. Particularly considering where things end up.

My favorite character, by far, was Tik Tok. His situation was heartbreaking, and the themes underlying those trying to ‘help’ him were strong and well done.

So, for me, this book had good parts and not so good parts, but if you like atypical retellings then you might like this one. 


Kelly Hashway said...

Nice review, Tabitha. It seems like the author was trying to make the characters match the situation but fell a little flat.

Unknown said...

I heard a lot of build up for this one. I think I'll have to give it a try.