Sunday, July 8, 2012

Review: Tiger Lily

Tiger Lily
by Jodi Lynn Anderson

Available as: hardcover, Kindle edition, ebook
Pages: 304
Publisher: HarperTeen
Publication date: July 3, 2012
Suggested tags: young adult, fantasy, retellings

From Goodreads:
"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.

I received an ARC of this book for free as a Goodreads First Reads giveaway.

Wow. This book. Don't even spend time reading my review, just go get yourself a copy of Tiger Lily right now and start reading it. It's incredible.

Being a long-time fan of the Disney version of Peter Pan, and a recent fan of J. M. Barrie's classic version (just read it for the first time a few weeks ago, actually, in preparation for reading Tiger Lily), I was so very excited to have a won an ARC of this book. The Neverland in my head is the Disney version, a magical place that I always wanted to escape to, where I could swim with mermaids and live in a tree and fly. I knew from the synopsis that Tiger Lily was going to take place in a different Neverland, a darker one, and I braced myself for that, not sure if I would like it or not. But Anderson's version of Neverland, as well as her version of the characters and their backstories, are so wonderfully written and so fantastically creative that it's impossible not to love it all.

The Neverland that Anderson has recreated is a rich, spectacular, dangerous place. It is very different from the fairy-tale-esque Neverland; it's a darker Neverland, where dangerous things stalk and death looms. There is a mix of reality and mysticism, where things that were once thought magical are rationally explained, and other things are simply too strange and supernatural to be explained at all.

In this Neverland, Tiger Lily has evolved from a cute minor character on the periphery into a fully-fleshed main character with a history, who struggles with being basically the outcast of her tribe, along with the conflicting thoughts and dreams and feelings of adolescence. Tik Tok, her adoptive father, says of her:
"You're restless. Everything is too small for you, including your own body. That's what it's like to be fifteen. I remember."
She knows what's expected of her, but she doesn't fit into everyone else's plans for her, and she's not at all afraid to follow her own path. Along this path, Moon Eye and Pine Sap, who start out as rather minor characters, become very influential in her story. I don't want to give away what happens between the three of them, since it develops across the whole book, so I'll only say Moon Eye and Pine Sap were two of my favorite characters and leave it at that.

I was surprised and excited to find that the narrator of Tiger Lily's story is Tinker Bell, who has also undergone some changes to become a much richer character; she has a backstory of her own, and she balances her own thoughts and actions with Tiger Lily's to essentially keep two stories going at once. I loved her interactions with Peter and the Lost Boys, and of course Wendy (Tink still doesn't get along with her, although for different reasons than in the J. M. Barrie or Disney versions).

The romance between Tiger Lily and Peter is just beautiful. I almost have no words for how sweetly heartbreaking it is as they come together and fall apart. They have a simple, innocent love with the wonder and fascination of a first serious relationship, when just the brush of a fingertip can set your heart racing and your head spinning. They both have quirks and hesitancies that make you as a reader want to step in and show them how to communicate, to try to preserve their love even though you have this feeling that it might be too delicate to last.

The book has a wonderful, satisfying, complete ending, but it makes your heart ache. (SPOILER - highlight to read: I was almost in tears when Tink goes back to visit Wendy and Peter in England. It's just so final. I suppose I was mourning the loss of Peter's perpetual childhood as well as his absence from Tiger Lily.) Anderson's writing is so beautiful and so heartfelt, and you become so invested in the characters that the ending just tears at you. This quote did me in:
"Sometimes love means not being able to bear seeing the one you love the way they are, when they're not what you hoped for them."
Do you hear that? It's the sound of my heart breaking.

I can't give enough praise to Anderson for her wonderful writing and her incredible recreation of Neverland and its inhabitants. This is a book that will receive a place of honor on my bookshelf so that I can easily get to it when I want to reread it, as I know I will, over and over and over.

Final verdict: I'm obsessed with it! I thought this book was amazing! It's now officially one of my favorite books! I immediately bought a copy for myself because I will be rereading it again and again! I shall be shouting about it from the rooftops for days and I am currently recommending it to everyone I come in contact with!

{ Please note: Quotes in this review are from an ARC 
and may not match the finished publication. }

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