Tiger Lily by Jodi Lynn Anderson
Hardcover: 292 pages
Release Date: 3 July 2012
Age Level: Young Adult
Purchase: Amazon | Book Depository | IndieBound
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.
Ever since I was a little girl, I have been a fan of Peter Pan and Neverland. I used to have regular dreams of flying and having adventures with Peter Pan and exploring with the Lost Boys. When I heard there was a book being released (on my birthday, too!) that focused on Tiger Lily, I was definitely intrigued. Not much is really known about the enigmatic Tiger Lily, so I simply had to read this novel. Little did I know this beautifully written novel would be so very different from what I expected.
Even now, a while later, I still don't quite know how I truly feel about Tiger Lily. I guess one thing I can say about it is it's different. Like I said earlier, this novel is written beautifully. Jodi Lynn Anderson certainly knows how to turn a phrase and capture the imagination. However, this didn't feel like Peter Pan. It just felt like something was missing. Where was the magic? The wonder? One of the big draws to Peter and Neverland is that it's full of adventure and magic and... whimsy. If this book was anything other than a Peter Pan story, I may have liked it more. However, being an avid fan of Neverland, I couldn't help being disappointed. I just don't know how to review this book! Well, here goes nothing.
First things first, Tiger Lily is narrated by Tinker Bell. I didn't know how I felt about that at first, but I really loved it by the end. Tink is pretty much Tiger Lily's biggest fan, so we get to see all that goes on around her. It was interesting to get an outsiders view of life as Tiger Lily, but I kind of wish we could have had more of our heroines voice portrayed. Tiger Lily is such a serious, almost emotionless character. She really makes you work to get to know her and like her, but sometimes you just want to know what's going on inside that head of hers. She's not like other girls in her village. She's quiet and strong and proud and just all-together different. Nobody really knows what to do with her, except maybe her friend Pine Sap and her adopted father, Tik Tok. There is also a fair amount of darkness in her, which was most surprising. I'm not quite sure what I was expecting Tiger Lily to be like, but I don't think this was it.
It bothered me a bit how Peter Pan was portrayed. He very much seemed like a scared little boy, not quite sure what to do with himself and those in his care. He could still be quite charming, competitive and commanding, but then in the blink of an eye he's a total wreck. I guess it could be more true-to-life than he is usually depicted, but still. His train of thought and feelings were everywhere and nowhere. I kind of miss the confident, charismatic Peter Pan that I fell in love with growing up. And where was the flying?!
Captain Hook was completely different than I have ever seen him. He was a paranoid, idiotic, sloppy mess. There wasn't any swagger in him whatsoever and it was really kind of disappointing. He wasn't a villain, he was just kind of there... barely. There was a villainous grown up in this story, but it was someone you would never suspect. I don't think I'm giving anything away by telling you that Smee turns out to be the creepiest, most evil villain in this story. He is a serial killer drawn to strong individuals. It probably comes as no surprise that after he journeys to Neverland, his object of obsession becomes Tiger Lily. At one point he witnesses her strong spirit and then he can't get her out of his mind. He plots and daydreams about her and how much pleasure he would take in killing her; which is extremely disturbing, to say the least. What happened to the bumbling, goofy, ever-so-slightly goodhearted Smee? After reading this book, I don't know that I can ever look at Mr. Smee the same again.
Along with some familiar(ish) characters in Neverland, we were also introduced to a few new ones. I'm pretty sure the best character in this novel was Pine Sap. I simply love that boy and his dedication to Tiger Lily. He is just a sweet, thoughtful, good guy and a great friend on top of all that. He is exactly the kind of person Tiger Lily needs in her life. Tiger Lily's adopted father, Tik Tok, was different, to say the least. I didn't really know how to feel about him, but there was no denying he had a good heart. He's the spiritual leader in the tribe, but when a missionary comes into their midst, his world is thrown into disarray. I definitely won't go into detail for fear of spoilers, but I did like him. It was nice to see Tiger Lily have two such wonderful people in her life. They helped to ground her and gave some dimension to her character.
Whilst reading, I did find some story/plot issues that I wasn't real fond of. One of those issues was the romance between Tiger Lily and Peter Pan. It was interesting to see two strong personalities come together, but it just didn't feel genuine. They competed and challenged one another all the time, which was interesting enough, but the romance came on so suddenly that it left me wondering if I missed something... if that makes sense. I wish it had been developed a bit more. Maybe it happened so fast because they were both looking for something they didn't have? I don't know. I also had some issues with bits of the story that didn't seem to fit this world or story at all, one being Tik Tok's personal habits. It just seemed so random and really had no point, but it was talked about at some length. I won't say what those habits are, but you'll understand what I mean when you read it. Unfortunately, some of the other issues are a tad bid spoilery, so I won't delve into those. Suffice it to say, some things that happen in the story are so far out there or unnecessary that I felt it detracted from the heart of the novel. I like random things thrown into a novel every now and again, but not if it takes away from the story. Oh! One huge gripe I had was with regards to Neverland. Frankly, I don't want to get into it too much, but I was hugely disappointed by how this magical land was depicted. Sure, there were still fairies and mermaids and some magic-ish stuff, but it just wasn't the same. I used to want to have adventures in Neverland, but not this Neverland. This Neverland... well, I just didn't like it.
Though I have griped a fair amount in this review, I will be honest and say that the writing is gorgeous. Jodi Lynn Anderson has definitely created a different kind of Peter Pan that I don't think readers will forget about any time soon. I might not have enjoyed Tiger Lily as much as I wanted to, but that doesn't mean others won't love it. If you're looking for something a little different and out there, this might be the book for you. If you're a die-hard fan of Peter Pan like myself... well, I'll let you decide whether or not you want to pick it up. If you do, however, I'd like to know what you thought.
A Favorite Quote: “At dusk in Neverland, as with anywhere else, all the colors begin to fade one by one before night comes. The last color to disappear is green, and in those moments between dusk and darkness, it stands out brightly for lack of all the other colors, and almost glows.”