Review: Tiger Lily by Jodi Lynn Anderson

7514925Rating: 4 / 5
Genres: Young Adult, Drama, Fantasy
Release date: October 3, 2013 by Orchard Books / July 3, 2013 by Harper Teen
Number of pages: 303
Source: Paperback from Orchard Books
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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.

From the New York Times bestselling author of Peaches comes a magical and bewitching story of the romance between a fearless heroine and the boy who wouldn’t grow up.

REVIEW

I think it’s safe to say this is one of the best retellings out there. Yes? Yes?

I can’t sing this book praises enough. I haven’t really read the Peter Pan books and have only watched a few of its cartoon episodes when I was younger, but I remembering shipping Wendy and Peter Pan so hard. I remember being attracted to Peter’s charm and antics, and I’ve always felt a sense of adventure and fun during the good old days. But after reading Tiger Lily, it left my heart in a raw and broken state with its endearing characters and poignant writing. Now, every time I think of Peter Pan, gone are the senses of adventure and fun that its shows have instilled in me, and what has replaced them is this… melancholic, heavy feeling.

It’s so rare for me to feel this way towards a retelling. Most often than not, these kind of novels don’t deliver. I’ve read a few in the past few months and I remember not being pleased with most of them. Instead of giving these tales a brand new life, they stick to the original formula and just add a little bit more in an attempt to make it “different”, only to fail miserably. But this one was just so good it even influenced my view of the original.

Despite the book having a depressing, heavy air as it showcased a darker side of Neverland, it still felt refreshing in its execution. It felt like meeting the characters we already know so well for the first time and knowing a side of them we’ve never seen before. I loved Tiger Lily and everything about her — her stubbornness, her insecurities, her thoughts and fears. I truly felt for her from the very first page. You could feel her loneliness and sorrow seeping from the pages, and in the many instances in the book where she was mistreated by her fellow villagers, it felt like watching a good friend being tortured with your own eyes. It was so, so hard to read her struggles, and it was uplifting to see her open up her heart to Peter Pan later on.

And Peter Pan? I understand why Tiger Lily fell in love with him, and I would have felt the same if I were in her shoes. Sure, there was a personality reboot, but for some reason, he still felt like THE Peter Pan to me, only more realistic and genuine. He may not be the “boy who never grew up” that everyone knows and loves, but he had his own charm and appeal. I shipped him and Tiger Lily so, so hard, forgetting about Wendy and even got annoyed as hell when she appeared later on.

And that ending? God, all the feels. I still don’t know what to think about it. I’m happy, and I’m sad that both of them found their destinations, but still. It was absolutely bittersweet. However… even though I wasn’t a fan of it, I still think it fit the book and the messages it wants to send across to the readers. About fearing change, enduring change, accepting it’s hard but inevitable, and ultimately, growing up in all manners. I’ve never realized such subject matters could be so delicate and powerful until now.

It’s kind of amazing to feel this close to these two individuals knowing neither of them is the narrator. Even though we see the story unfold through the eyes of Tinkerbell, it still gave us a rather close and personal understanding of the main cast. I don’t know why, but the prose made me feel like the story was a magical realism drama, and I love that kind of prose because they’re oftentimes powerful and poignant. In any case, I have no qualms about this aspect, and I sincerely believe Anderson’s writing prowess is something to watch out for. It’s not everyday you get to know other characters in such a deep level from the (first person) perspective of a third party.

Overall, this book was lovely and sad, uplifting and heavy, all at the same time. The characters, genuine and real as they are, are people you’ll easily sympathise with. You’ll understand them, care for them, and even at their lowest points, you’ll find yourself wanting to be strong in their place. It has that effect. It’s deep, poignant, and beautiful, and its impact will stay with you for a long time.

A copy was provided by the publisher in exchange for a review. Thanks, Orchard Books! This did not influence my thoughts in any way.

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Faye

Faye

A 21 years old Filipina who loves books, games, languages, and most especially, food. Secretly wishes to be an astronaut so she can explore the stars. Has a love-hate relationship with Philippine politics. To get in her good graces, offer her Foie Gras, Or shrimp. Or a JRPG. A YA sci-fi book works, too. You can follow her on twitter here: @kawaiileena

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  1. says

    I’ve heard this one was such a great retelling and Peter Pan was my favorite movie for years when I was younger so I can’t believe I still haven’t read this one! I love how awesome it sounds and got that ending– you made me so curious! I love emotional endings that keeps you thinking. I find it makes the whole book just that much more memorable!! Great review, Faye!!

    • FayeFaye says

      Oh, in that case, Giselle, I have a very strong feeling you’ll love the ending of this one. It was just too bittersweet :'(

  2. says

    Totally agree with you! And it’s so true that reading this book made me feel like reading the side of Neverland we all never know, but somehow was there all along. And it did changed my perspective too.
    Before this book, I thought that Wendy was all good and angelic. Now? Eh, not so much. I’m totally with Tiger Lily :D

    Nice review, by the way!

    Neysa @ [B.O.O.K.L.I.F.E]

  3. says

    THIS IS EXACTLY HOW I FEEL ABOUT THIS BOOK.

    One point of difference – I’ve always kind of hated Wendy, so when she came along in the book I was all GET OUT. I do love a retelling but they often fall flat for me, too. This one is the best I’ve read, I think. Beautiful writing, heartbreaking ending.

  4. laila BC says

    I am actually happy to see this lovely review of this book coz it’s on my TBR and i love retellings. I have read a couple of them based on well known ones but never about Peter Pan. This sounds like a bittersweet one. But i am looking forward to my own reading experience. Thank you again for this review :)

  5. says

    I didn’t know that you reviewed this but I’m just sooo happy that you enjoyed it. I’m obsessed with this book. I remember not reading anything for a long time when I finished it because of the hangover. Tink being narrator is kind unique, and yep, I feel connected to the characters even though it’s not written on their perspective.

    Love this review!!
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