Friday, August 17, 2012

Book Review: Tiger Lily by Jodi Lynn Anderson

Tiger Lily by Jodi Lynn Anderson 
Series: Standalone
Published: July 3rd, 2012
Publisher: HarperTeen
292 pages (hardcover)
Genre: Young adult fantasy
Acquired this book: From the library
Warning: May contain spoilers
{GoodReads || Purchase this book: Book Depository || Amazon}

Synopsis: 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.

Until about two weeks ago, I was only familiar with movie versions of Peter Pan - the Disney version and its sequel Return to Neverland, and the movies Hook, and Finding Neverland. When I heard about Tiger Lily, I knew I had to read it, but I wanted to read JM Barrie’s Peter Pan first. I honestly had very little idea of what Tiger Lily was about - I almost never read synopses of books, I was just intrigued by what I’d heard from friends, especially one of my good blogging friends, who loved the book. So after reading Peter Pan (you can read my review here) and discovering how silly and ridiculous (not in a bad way) and comical it was - although heartbreaking in many ways - I was expecting something lighter from Tiger Lily.

What I really got was a story that shattered my heart into a million pieces. Almost from the very beginning, my heart ached for the characters. Neverland seemed even more like the island of misfits than it did in Peter Pan - it seemed to be a land inhabited by people who didn’t belong, and who were broken in some form or another.

Tiger Lily is unlike any book I’ve ever read before. It’s so beautifully written, with vivid imagery and characters that are so real it feels like you’re right there in the story with them. We get to see inside the characters’ heads and learn their motivations - even the secondary characters. I never thought I’d feel sympathy for Hook, but this book made me feel bad for him. He was just as broken as all the other characters. Possibly the most brilliant thing of all is that this story isn’t told from Tiger Lily or even Peter’s perspective - it’s told from Tinker Bell’s point of view. There was something so intimate about the storytelling; at times I felt like a voyeur, but I couldn’t look away, and more importantly, didn’t want to look away. I wanted to see it all, hear it all, feel it all. 

"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, page 169

I loved getting to see the softer side of Tink. She’s always portrayed as mean, jealous, haughty, and conniving, and even though she admitted herself she could be all those things and more, we didn’t see much of that in Tiger Lily. She loved Tiger Lily so much that she was willing to give up a normal life and accept being pretty much invisible just to stay with her. Her devotion and unconditional love, as well as the way she loved Peter, tugged at my heartstrings. Those moments when she realized she wasn’t as invisible as she thought were so sweet and tender they made me want to cry.

Tiger Lily herself is fierce, independent, and courageous, but also vulnerable and afraid of so many things, especially her own thoughts and feelings. She’s a conundrum of hard and soft, hot and cold, sharp edges and sweetness. I absolutely loved her.

"Maybe all of her strangeness, her curse, her always feeling like an outsider, had all existed so that she could belong here, with Peter." ~ Tiger Lily, page 197

Peter is just as much a conundrum as Tiger Lily. He’s frustrating because he’s so scattered, but in so many ways he’s the same as Tiger Lily - there’s vulnerability and fear and longing in him that he doesn’t understand. Some of the scenes between them left me breathless, and I always yearned for those stolen moments where it was the two of them trying to figure out who they were separately and together. I’ve never read a love story like theirs - one that excites even while it sometimes disturbs. It’s innocent and intense at the same time.

There were other characters, but I feel like I can’t touch on that without going on and on and possibly giving away important plot elements. Just know that all the characters are multidimensional with incredible depth. I don’t think there was a single character my heart didn’t bleed for - they were all tortured or broken in some way, and I was moved beyond words on countless occasions.

If you’re familiar with the original tale of Peter Pan and you’re a stickler for retellings/spin-offs that follow along religiously, you’re going to be disappointed. Anderson sticks loosely to the original, but often puts a unique spin on something or gives an event or person a different purpose or meaning or history. You really need to set aside everything you know about Peter Pan and enjoy the story for what it is - a brilliant, beautiful piece of prose - separate from Barrie’s story.

Beautiful, bittersweet, surprising, sometimes dark, and haunting, Tiger Lily is a story that’s going to stay with me for a long time to come. These characters grabbed hold of my heart and won’t soon be forgotten. 

Have you read Tiger Lily? What did you think? What's your favourite Peter Pan adaptation?


  1. What a great review! I enjoyed Tiger Lily as well, and found it to be creative and unique. I haven't read the original Peter Pan, so I'm not sure how this story went along with those characters, but I thought they were well written and exciting!

    Courtney @ Fuzzy.Coffee.Books

  2. Great review, might read it, it sounds good! Now, if you like Peter Pan, have you ever thought of reading the Starcatcher series? It's another spinoff of what happened before Wendy and her brothers came. The first book is called Peter and the Starcatchers. It's a wonderful series, you should look into it if you haven't already :)


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