Rummanah Aasi
  While I love a good love story with a happy ending, there is a part of me that is drawn to the darker, subdued romance found in tragic love stories. There is something captivating and realistic about a love that could have been. Tiger Lily is an enthralling and haunting story of a girl who may be obscure in other retellings of Peter Pan, but now leaves an eternal mark on those who meet her in this novel.

Description (from the Publisher): 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.

Review: Thanks to Barrie's bittersweet classic tale of Peter Pan and the many different film adaptations of his book, we are always expecting Neverland to be a magical place full of fun, danger, and adventure. What is hidden behind the scenes is the mud that accompanies the white sandy beaches and gorgeous sunsets, the mosquitoes, and croc-infested swamps. Anderson's enchanting book, Tiger Lily, opens our eyes to every light and dark aspect of Neverland where the good guys don't always win and love does not conquer all.
  Though the novel is dark, it still retains its lyrical beauty through exquisite descriptions and searing honesty that goes straight to your heart, which our heroine, Tiger Lily, perfectly embodies. Neither a traditional girl associated with femininity nor a boy, Tiger Lily is cursed to never be accepted. It's not that no one cares for her, but they are puzzled as to which label to give her. She refuses to change herself even if it would make things easy on her. She has long battled bullying from the children and elders of her tribe of not quite being accepted. After one transgression too many, she is told she must marry Giant, a violent oaf who mistreats her whenever the chance presents itself. It is only natural that Tiger Lily would fall in love with a boy who reflects her emotions and have him be Peter Pan, someone who she must avoid at all cost.
  With a clever narration choice, Anderson has Tiger Lily's story told by Tinkerbell's point of view. In this rendition of Peter Pan, Tink is unable to speak but we can hear her thoughts. Having Tinkerbell as the narrator, we accomplish many things at once. Not only are we are able to hear it on a very personal level and get a close look at all the characters individually whilst having a wider scope than normal 1st person allows, but it's also a reflection on the tension and metaphor in this post-colonial fable. Before reading Tiger Lily, I was honestly at a lost of who she is and whether or not she is a real character in Barrie's story. I actually had to look her up and there's not that much information about her, except for the one line in the Disney's Peter Pan. I really think that's a reflection of the narrative choice. Tiger Lily also touches upon other important issues that brim to the surface such as wilderness and civilization, gender and power, time and change. These themes are discussed but they aren't forced or repetitive. Tiger Lily is not just an ordinary love story, which is something I extremely admire about it. 

  Like Tiger Lily, Peter is also hard to identify. While he may physically look young and characteristicly known for his reckless behavior and irresistible charm, there is a vulnerability to him too. He is lost, unsure of his purpose in Neverland and not suited to guide the Lost Boys though he refuses to give up the leadership role. I think one of the most touching scenes in Tiger Lily shows how the Lost Boys take care of a small infant, which really exemplify their concerns.
  The villains in this story are as complex as everyone else. Anderson offers new and interesting interpretations for familiar characters. James Hook is a sad, old man who came to Neverland on dreams to pursue eternal youth, but has failed in his mission. He has since then descends into alcoholism and his obsession with Peter Pan is actually a reflection of his own self hatred. Although Hook is the star villain, I couldn't help but become memorised by Smee who murders those he admires for their strength and beauty but then mourns their deaths. It's almost as if he's trying to absorb his victims goodness into himself.
  I initally gave Tiger Lily 4.5 stars when I finished reading the book, but after reflecting on it and writing this review I realized that's doing this book a diservice. Intoxicating, dangerous, and emotional, Tiger Lily's tale isn't easy to forget. Yes, it is melancholy and while it may not bring a happy contented sigh after we close the page, we have to remind our selves that Barrie's tale didn't have a happily ever after either and a happy ending would undermined all important character growth.  

Rating: 5 stars

Words of Caution: There is a hint of sexual assault that takes place of the page. There is also a few disturbing images in the book. Recommended for Grades 8 and up.

If you like this book try: Lament by Maggie Stiefvater, Ash by Malinda Lo, Scarlet by A.C. Gaughen, Mermaid by Carolyn Turgeon
8 Responses
  1. Jenny Says:

    Wow, a 5? I really need to read this book Rummanah! I love that it's a darker version of Neverland and, despite my love for an HEA, I kind of like that things don't quite work out the way we might want them too. I'm hoping to get to this one soon, the characters sound complex and layered and everything I'm looking for when I pick a book up. Awesome review!

  2. Oh, I've been on the fence about this one, but not any more! Great review. It's on my list.

  3. Oh moved it up? I love that! I've always wanted Tiger Lily's story. I've been wanting this one, but I am so pushing this one up the wishlist. I love the philosophy and the darkness you describe. I think this will be a book I'd really enjoy as well.

  4. @Jenny: I thought you read this one already! How is it that I beat you to a book? ;) Yes, I think you would definitely love this one.

    @Annette: I was a bit mixed to pick this one up because of the hype, but I loved it. Hope you enjoy it too!

    @Melissa: Tiger Lily has so much to offer. Hope I did the book justice with this review.

  5. "What is hidden behind the scenes is the mud that accompanies the white sandy beaches and gorgeous sunsets." That right there is pure poetry! What a beautiful review of this novel! I've read her May Bird series and loved it and know there aren't always happy endings in her stories. I know that about this book. Still, this is a beautiful review!
    I hope the book is as good as this!


  6. Jules Says:

    Peter Pan really is one of those literary archetypes and it's one of my favorites. This is going on the TBR pile!

  7. Candace Says:

    I actually didn't love this one. But I really did appreciate the lovely writing style, I just had a hard time with the story. I guess I grew bored with it. I think its one that many really do fall in love with though and I'm glad you're one of them!

  8. Even though I love retellings and the story of Peter Pan, when I first heard about this one, I was like "meh". I changed my mind and added it to my wishlist after seeing some really positive reviews for it. I really enjoyed reading your insight about the story though, Rummanah, and since you gave it a 5, I'm going to bump it up in my TBR pile.

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