Written by Jodi Lynn Anderson
Published July, 2012 by HarperCollins
Genres: Fantasy, Re-Tellings
Purchase: The Book Depository | Bookworld | Booktopia
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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.
I’m such a fan of the Peter Pan story and character in general that it was inevitable that I was going to get around to reading Tiger Lily at some stage. Having been on my TBR for some time now, and with so many stellar reviews, I decided to up it to the forefront of my reading this month. It was a massive disappointment that I seemed to have missed what was so magical about it.
“Let me tell you something straight off. This is a love story, but not like any you’ve ever heard. The boy and the girl are far from innocent. Dear lives are lost. And good doesn’t win.”
Tiger Lily promises the story of Peter Pan pre-Wendy – when Tiger Lily was the apple of Peter’s eye. I loved this spin on things, even though I’m a huge fan of the Peter/Wendy relationship in all forms of the story. Unfortunately, Jodi Lynn Anderson’s Tiger Lily didn’t feel like it was set in the Neverland I had become so fond of.
Of course I understand that things needed (or had been chosen) to be changed, but somehow the magic of Neverland didn’t translate over to this one for me. Tiger Lily’s Neverland, instead of being a mystical dreamland place set ‘second star to the right’ is now an unchartered and hidden island off the Atlantic. Immediately, the place was less whimsical. Neverland, despite being hard to locate, is often plagued with ‘Englanders’ who wash ashore and cause problems for the inhabitants of the island.
The entirety of Tiger Lily is told from Tinker Bell’s point of view. I think this also had a hand in really distancing me from the story. Although it’s charming and sweet and full of insights into the life of a fairy, it felt a bit unnecessary. Tink’s loyalty to Peter (such a steadfast thing in the books, movies, etc.) just wasn’t there and despite her instant ‘love’ for him, her allegiance was first and foremost with Tiger Lily, which was strange.
“To love someone was not what she had expected. It was like falling from somewhere high up and breaking in half, and only one person having the secret to the puzzle of putting her back together.”
Tiger Lily as a character was alright (I enjoyed her relationship with her shaman ‘father’ Tik Tok, as well as Pine Sap and Moon Eye) but I was never really rooting for her with Peter. She was so much stronger than he was, and I was kind of hoping she’d be resistant to his charms.
With Tiger Lily as the ‘lead’, the Indian camp became a big majority of the book. Although I loved the camp’s dynamic (so many colourful characters), I couldn’t help but feel that if more focus had been placed on the other aspects of the book, that it would have been more what I was expecting. What did surprise me, however, was that there was a lot of sadness and despair in this book – as well as a teeny bit of abuse and some questions of gender, religion and identity. For taking a look at some more troubling elements, I do applaud the author.
Now, let me talk about Peter… long story short, he was awful. Being a massive Peter fangirl wasn’t enough for me this time around. Tiger Lily’s Peter has been aged up (he’s around 15/16 years old) and he can’t fly, climb trees well or even swim. There was nothing that set him apart from the other Lost Boys, yet they seemed to rally around him and put him on a pedestal. I kept wondering what made Peter this fantastic being, because I couldn’t see it at all.
When Wendy came into the book, she was penned solely to be a plot device to sour Peter’s affection for Tiger Lily. Two-dimensional and purposely written to be hated, Wendy offered nothing to the reader other than a reason for Peter to leave Neverland. Peter and Wendy’s relationship was void of anything real or genuine and was merely based on the fact that Wendy liked to stroke his ego. As for Hook and Smee, they were there, but they hardly took the mantle of being the book’s ultimate villains. It was quite disappointing.
“From where I sat, Peter and Wendy were the two loneliest figures in the world. But Peter was somehow the lonelier of the two.”
Yes, there were little nods to the original material (how the clock ended up in the crocodile’s mouth) but considering how much this one diverted from it in all other areas, it could hardly be called a prequel. Peter and the Lost Boys didn’t even stay on in Neverland by the end of the book, nor did Hook lose his hand to a crocodile in the first place, so I’m unsure on how his fear of the crocodile and it’s ticking clock would ever come into play.
Tiger Lily just didn’t live up to my expectations. On its own it would be quite the nice little book, but when you have a massive Peter Pan fan constantly comparing it to the original, it just can’t compete.