27 February 2013

Book Review: Tiger Lily by Jodi Lynn Anderson

Title: Tiger Lily
Author(s): Jodi Lynn Anderson
Genre(s): Fairy Tales, Fantasy, Young Adult
Publisher/Date: HarperCollins Children's Books / July 3, 2012
Series: Stand Alone 
"I didn't know why she seemed so sad and happy at the same time. 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. She began to plan how she would give him up."
Case Summary 
You've heard the tale of Peter Pan, right? If so, you may remember that Never Neverland is a place where pirates roam, the Lost Boys rule, happy thoughts help you fly and you never ever grow old. This was the story where Peter cavorted with mermaids, made friends with fairies and saved Wendy from a certain villainous captain. And while there are many things you may know, like how to get to Neverland (second star to the right and straight on till morning), there is still much to Peter's story that hasn't been told. Until now.

Here's what you don't know: James Hook wasn't quite as dastardy as the story would have you believe. Smee doesn't play the role of paunchy sidekick either--- he's someone far more dangerous. And Wendy Darling wasn't Peter Pan's first love. Oh no. Before there was Wendy there was Tiger Lily, the little Indian girl who captured Peter's heart. And what you also don't know is that this isn't really a story about Peter. This is a story about romance, love, betrayal and devastating heartbreak. This is Tiger Lily's story and I can assure you, there won't be a happy ending.

The Game's Afoot
You know, as much as I adore Anderson's writing, I feel it's my duty to warn you about something. This book is totally gutwrenching. Seriously. You've been warned. Tiger Lily is the story of the outcast little Indian girl as seen through the eyes of Tinkerbell. For starters, I thought the use of Tink as a narrator was quite brilliant. Anderson finally gave our fiesty little fairy a voice and after experiencing the story through her eyes, you understand exactly why the Tink we all know is a tad bit bitchy. From many of the reviews I've read, Tiger Lily turned a lot of readers in bonafide Wendy haters, but I have to say, that wasn't the case for me. As much as I loved Tink's version of the story, it made me realize just how biased her perspective was. I mean, Tiger Lily was Tinkerbell's home girl! Not to mention the fact that, Tink, like all the other girls on the island, was hopelessly in love with Peter. Since she couldn't have his heart I should think it obvious that she'd want it to go to the next best person, Tiger Lily.

Tiger Lily is a book that's less plot driven and more about characterization, which is what makes it so effective. It takes a while for any majour action to occur but the time is well spent on character development. I loved all of these characters because they are so multi-faceted and complex. Tiger Lily is such an amazing female protagonist because,on the surface, she's a fierce yet mysterious girl who projects a quiet strength. But underneath she's a lonely, scared little girl trying to make the most of the cards she's been dealt. And she's not without her faults either. She's competitive, stubborn and too independent for her own good which causes her to inadvertantly hurt many of the people who love her. And the same goes for Peter, who is perhaps, the most lost soul in the book. He may project the face of a fearless leader but inside he's a lonely, broken, scared little boy. He needs his Lost Boys probably more than they need him.

And while I loved that Peter and Tiger Lily's love was so passionate, it was also self destructive. The nature of their relationship was too competitive to ever have it work long-term. Though they challenged eachother, they were both bull-headed enough to butt heads. I think Wendy was a much more suitable match for Peter because she is his complement in every way. Everything he is, she' isn't and vice versa. And while he saves Wendy in the literal sense, she saves him more figuratively. Peter needed someone to take care of him, to help him grow up a bit and Tiger Lily was far too proud and lost herself to be able to do that for him. That's not to say I didn't enjoy Tiger Lily and Peter's relationship, I just thought Wendy was better in the end. I am one of the few who probably felt this way, so yeah, haters gonna hate but I don't really care.

As I said earlier, this book will rip out your heart and stomp it in to little pieces. One might think it's because of the inevitable heartbreak that befalls Tiger Lily and Peter, but for me, it was for reasons slightly less obvious. I ached for the characters because each, in their own way, was so profoundly broken. Yes, even Hook. It's sad, really. The Captain's a mere shell of the man he once was--- now a depressed drunkard, he's trapped and forced to play the part of the villain. It's hard to believe, but you do feel sorry for the man. And we quickly learn that  Hook isn't really the one who should be feared. I never thought I'd see the day where someone turned Smee into a psychotic sociopath, but lone behold, Anderson's done it. What I love most is that all of her characters are real. They have real lives with real problems that go far beyond the aide of magic. And though the magic is still present in the book, its not the whimsical magic we've seen in previous versions of the story. You accept that it exists but it doesn't dictate anyone's fate. Tiger Lily is far more raw, dark and honest than Peter Pan and that's what I appreciated most about it.

Summary Prognosis
Tiger Lily is a precurser to Peter Pan, albeit, it's a much more sinister and soulful version of the tale. This book has a slow start but it builds in to be this enigmatic story that captures your attention with its complex characters and romantic tension. Though there is no traditional happily-ever-after, the ending broke my heart in a very real and satisfying way. Anderson's storytelling is haunting and captivating and this will likely be one of my favourite reads of this year!


Rating: ★★★★★


Read It: Amazon | Barnes & Noble 
Discuss It: Goodreads | Author's Website

14 comments:

  1. YES THIS: "Tiger Lily is far more raw, dark and honest than Peter Pan and that's what I appreciated most about it." Nailed it.

    But seriously, I love the point you make about still loving Wendy despite Tink's depiction of her -- because Tink is a bit biased, which brings to mind the whole unreliable narrator thing. It's very interesting to me -- I am a reader who takes the narrator at their word and doesn't exactly think through whether a narrator is reliable or not, so I ended up despising Wendy, but this review definitely has me rethinking that feeling.

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    1. Exactly. It was a magical story, in a way, but it was written so that it felt more real than imaginary.

      I am a Wendy lover, I admit. Always was, probably always will be. And I won't dney that Tink is AMAZING but I never saw anything wrong with what Wendy did. It's always so easy to get mad with the "other" woman, but no one ever gets mad at the guy (Peter). Like I said, I loved Peter and Tiger Lily's budding romance but in the long term, I think Wendy was better suited for him. Both Peter and Tiger Lily were too immature and broken to really save eachother.

      Glad I was able to, at least, make you see the other side of things though, April! :)

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  2. I'm glad to see a positive review of this book. I've read a few that didn't really like it and it had me nervous about taking the time to read it, since I already have so many other books I need/want to read. I think I'm more inclined to read this one now. Thanks for the honest review. Although I'm a little nervous about getting my heart crushed.

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    1. I'll be honest with you, Kay, it's an intense story. There aren't happy endings for all and the subject matter isn't always the easiest to deal with, so you might have to be in the right mood. I will say, though, this is such a well-written, beautiful story and I liked it BECAUSE of it's intensity. I highly recommend it, just make sure you keep a box of tissues nearby when you do read it!

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  3. I didn't like this as much as you did, but you are totally spot on about Anderson's soulful writing. What other books by her do you like? I could try another!

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    1. There's absolutely nothing wrong with that, lady! She only has one other series out called "Peaches" which I haven't read yet, but I've heard good things. I have a feeling if the prose is anything like this book, I'll enjoy it.

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  4. Wow Nikki, Tiger Lily sounds amazing. I like the idea of using Tink as a narrator. I tend to like books that "rip out your heart and stomp it in to little pieces" like you say. And sometimes I get sick and tired of happy endings. I'm adding this to my wishlist, amazing review!

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    1. It is, Naida! I love that there isn't the traditional "happily ever after" like you'd expect because sometimes those types of hard endings make the book so much more effective and impactful. I have a feeling you'll enjoy this one.

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  5. I am so DYING to read this. I bought it when it first came out last year, but blogging commitments have left it in the middle of my TBR pile...so glad you loved it and gave it five stars! I'll have to make an effort to squeeze it in!

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    1. I would definitely take the time to read this book, Tammy! Intense as it is, it's also so amazing and beautifully written.

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  6. So glad you enjoyed this one! I've been so keen to read it, I have to track it down asap!

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    1. You really should! It's compelling, beautiful and intense. I have a feeling you'll really enjoy it.

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  7. does anyone know how many feathers she wore at the end of the book

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  8. does anyone know how many feathers she wore at the end of the book

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