Monday, August 13, 2012

review: tiger lily

Jodi Lynn Anderson
Harper Collin's Children's Books
(review copy sent by publisher)
Tiger Lily is to Peter Pan what Wicked was to The Wizard of Oz. I'm wary of calling it a retelling, though technically that's what it is, because this isn't the Peter-and-Wendy story we all know. Nope, this is Tiger Lily's story and though it overlaps with the original it's also markedly different. Because this is the love story between Tiger Lily and Peter Pan. It's narrated by everybody's favorite mysterious fairy, Tinker Bell, and incorporates many of the events from the original, but at the end of the day it's very much Tiger Lily's story.

And in many ways, I loved it. This Tiger Lily is sharp and smart and desperate and unruly. She's all but incapable of "playing it cool" or acting like she cares less than she does, and she finds it difficult to be the demure lady that the rest of her tribe expects her to be. She falls for Peter despite being promised in marriage to an older man in the tribe and despite the fact that Peter and his Lost Boys are legendary for their brutality and ruthlessness. However, the Lost Boys that she meets are much different than the ones she's been described. They're boys; they're messy and loud and friendly and more human than she was expecting. And Tiger Lily quickly falls in with them -- with their games and their underground home and she fits into the dynamic so completely. But of course it can't be as simple as Tiger Lily and Peter falling in love, of Tiger Lily finding a place she belongs and people she belongs with. There has to be some trouble and Tiger Lily delivers it in spades. From Giant (the man Tiger Lily's supposed to marry), to Tiger Lily's cross-dressing father, to the Englisher who's causing trouble in the tribe and in Neverland, there's more than enough friction between everybody, and more than enough obstacles in the way of Tiger Lily and Peter.

Many of the most important plot points happen pretty late in the story (as is sort of a trademark of Jodi Lynn Anderson's slow, meandering writing style) and I don't want to spoil them except to say that there are some surprising things here. Some horribly sad things that change, in little ways, the trajectory of the story. But it's okay. Because as sad as Tiger Lily is, it's also not, which sounds confusing. But really, like all the best YA novels, there's an unmistakable lining of hope and happiness in this one.

However, Tiger Lily does change some fairly important parts of the original tale, beginning with the fact that in this version Tiger Lily isn't an indian princess, but instead the daughter of the tribe's medicine man. That's a fairly small change though; there are much larger deviations from the original story, and if this weren't such a beautiful story the changes from the original story might have been a deal breaker for me. But, for the most part, Anderson pulls it off. And while this book builds slowly once it hits its stride, it really hits its stride. While the book wasn't perfect, my mostly-minor complaints are pretty spoilerific and for the most part I loved it. It's a heart-tugging, angst-ridden love story with a complex and feisty heroine at the center. So great.


  1. I actually read this and enjoyed it. I love Peter Pan retellings and this one was a refreshing twist of change.

  2. Great review! I was a bit hesitant about picking up this one due to the mixed reviews, but I think I'm going to give it a try. Heart-tugging, angst-ridden love stories with a complex and feisty heroine seems right up my alley :)

    Misa @ Skyway Avenue Reads

  3. I've been curious about this one because it seems more like a reinterpretation of a child's tale than exactly a retelling (like you mentioned). I am generally a bigger fan of reinterpretations than retellings because I like to see how an author's mind has twisted the familiar into something a little unfamiliar.

    Great review, and I think I'm definitely going to pick this one up.