24 October 2013

Tiger Lily by Jodi Lynn Anderson

Tiger Lily by Jodi Lynn Anderson
Release Date: October 3, 2013 (UK)
Publisher: Orchard Books
Source: Publisher
Star Rating: 5
Rating: All Time Favourite

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.

Let me tell you something straight off. This is a love story, but not like any you have ever heard. The boy and the girl are far from innocent. Dear lives are lost. And good doesn't win. In some places, there is something ultimately good about endings. In Neverland, that is not the case.
I wasn't expecting much from this novel. I'm not a huge fan of Peter Pan for various reasons, the main one being that I dislike all of the characters. Peter, Wendy, Tinker Bell... I don't like any of them in most of the adaptations I have come across (Once Upon a Time aside). The only character I have liked is Captain Hook, and that's mostly because he's either hilariously ridiculous in the movies, or bloody gorgeous in the Once Upon a Time TV show. But Tiger Lily made me see the characters in a whole new light, and I have to say that this is one of the best adaptations of any story that I have ever read. 

I was expecting Tiger Lily to be told from the point of view of, well, Tiger Lily. Since she is the title character and all. I was very shocked to discover that it was Tinker Bell who was narrating this story instead. The way Anderson did this was very clever, since in this adaptation, fairies are silent creatures that humans cannot hear, and barely even acknowledge. So Tinker Bell is basically a spectator in Tiger Lily's life, unable to interfere with the actual events that take place. This causes much frustration for both Tinker Bell and the reader, being unable to help characters that they love when they're in a crisis.

One of my favourite aspects of the book is Tiger Lily's relationship with Tinker Bell, which I believe I fangirled about all over the internet. This is the epitome of unrequited love for me, and it broke my heart. Tinker Bell feels such a connection to Tiger Lily, that she moves away from her fairy peers, and into Tiger Lily's village. From then on, she follows Tiger Lily wherever she goes, and she absolutely adores her. She cries over various circumstances that Tiger Lily is put through, and she wishes she could do more for her. She admires several of Tiger Lily's traits, and boasts and shouts (in her quiet fairy way) about how brilliant Tiger Lily really is. Tinker Bell is one of the few characters that really understands Tiger Lily, and it is heartbreaking because Tink is unable to tell her that she is always there for her.

You think you know that someone sees you one way, and barely at all, and then you realize that they see you in another. That was the night that I realized Tiger Lily had seen - really seen - me all along.

It turns out that Tiger Lily does see Tinker Bell, but because of the way that Tiger Lily is, she doesn't voice her feelings for Tink, or really acknowledge her openly at all. It's all so closed in and painful.

Tiger Lily herself is an outcast in this novel. While all the other girls in her tribe are fawning over guys and doing other things that are seen as girly, Tiger Lily wants to swim naked in the river, and learn to fight. She's not the slightest bit interested in the opposite sex. On top of this, she is physically different from the other girls, in that she's tall and wide, and not conventionally pretty. And because of this, she is an outcast. Tinker Bell and her father, Tik Tok, are all (she thinks) she has in the world. 

"What you did was very brave," Aunt Sticky Feet said, her words clipped but not unkind, "but men don't want women who are brave. They want women who make them feel like men." 
"I don't care about that," Tiger Lily said quietly.

Despite being mistreated and seen as rather savage, Tinker Bell and the reader see that Tiger Lily actually has a big heart, perhaps the biggest out of almost anybody in her village. She just can't always show it, because she keeps these things close.

As the novel progresses, we see Tiger Lily grow up and experience several different life changing events. She is forced into a relationship that she doesn't want, with an abusive arsehole, and because she is a girl, she doesn't get a say in the matter. This is part of the reason she turns to Peter Pan in the first place. 

Before Peter Pan belonged to Wendy, he belonged to the girl with the crow feather in her hair. . . .

So you know how I'm always complaining about how guys in YA declare that they own their girlfriends/love interests? "You are mine." "You belong with me." "My girl." All that stuff usually drives me up the wall, and I end up mentally shredding the book to pieces. But, after reading Tiger Lily, the above quote makes me weep. 

Tiger Lily and Peter's relationship absolutely ruined me. I'm sure you're all aware of the story of Peter Pan, and how his "love interest" (quote marks because he's a child in most adaptations) is Wendy, so I don't feel like I'm spoiling you with this: Tiger Lily and Peter don't end up together. Duh. But their story is one of the most heartbreaking things I have ever read. I don't ever want to experience pain like that over a book again, because I don't think I will be able to handle it. 

Tiger Lily runs to Peter because she's not ready to grow up and get married. Peter and his Lost Boys provide the perfect escape for her, even if Peter is a selfish prat who doesn't know how to express himself properly. Their relationship is exactly the kind of thing that I look for in a love story. Both characters help save and improve each other. Tiger Lily helps Peter so express himself and to quit being such a child (although he has a long way to go), and Peter helps Tiger Lily to escape her life in her village, which has since become a cage.

Peter and Tiger Lily made me cry my heart out. I cried so hard that they gave me a nosebleed, and the only other things to have done that are Spartacus and Supernatural. That's how many feelings this book evoked in me.

Because of this relationship, which I can only describe as a hurricane without sounding too ridiculous, we start to see a side of Tinker Bell that I knew (and hated) from my childish. But what is different this time is that we know the reasons behind Tink's actions. We know why she's such a bitch towards Wendy, why she hated her, why she's always so bloody grumpy. And it totally works in this book. Tinker Bell is doing it all out of her love for Tiger Lily. 

Tatum talked about Code Name Verity and how the relationship between the two main female characters in that book is rather ambiguous when it comes to love and friendship. I haven't yet read Code Name Verity, but I imagine that the relationship in that book is a lot like Tinker Bell and Tiger Lily's relationship in this book. Lines are blurred, and it's not hard to see how what Tinker Bell feels for Tiger Lily is so much more than avid friendship.

With all this going on, you'd have thought that there wouldn't be room for much more. You would have been wrong. In addition to Tiger Lily's conflict with those around her, and her relationship with Peter Pan, and how she wishes to escape, we also see a broken relationship between Tiger Lily and her father, we see Neverland go through several seasons, and we see a new religion introduced to the island by the British. 

Anderson doesn't waste the secondary characters in this novel either. There's a whole subplot about Captain Hook and Smee, and how they're hunting the Lost Boys. But this doesn't detract from the fact that this book is about Tiger Lily. This is her story, and these are all things that are happening on her island. In her home.

I am astounded by how much Anderson managed to pack into a short 300-page novel. She manages to cover love and conflict, feminism and mistreatment of women, friendship, loss, death, and so much more. Tiger Lily has to be one of the best books that I have ever read. It's a beautiful story, and it will stay with me forever. I will never be able to give it the praise that it truly deserves, because I'm not that good at words. However, I wish you luck with getting away from my book pushing.


  1. I HAVE to read this book. I have heard nothing by the highest praise and your review has just pushed me over the edge. I need to get a copy ASAP. Thinking this might be my very next book purchase.

    My Friends Are Fiction

  2. What an amazing review. I really need to read this!!! Peter Pan is my favourite story/movie/character ever!! And I love anything that involves him and the adaptations. Will be starting this soon I think. :)

  3. I LOVE this book. It's an all time favorite for me too and definitely one of the best retellings. Tiger Lily & Peter Pan broke my heart <3

    1. This is weird.. I typed a very long comment and this is the only thing that got posted? :( Damn.

      What I said was something like: It's great to see how Tiger Lily and Peter Pan completed each other. I love TInkerbell's POV. I never really liked her, but I got her now. Her loyalty to Tiger Lily is heart warming. The letter at the end of the book made me cry like a baby. And yes, Hook was always one of my favorites (especially now with OUAT (A))

  4. Augh I'm so glad you liked it! This book basically destroyed me for a couple of days. It's dark and feelsy and there's so much longing for various things. I liked how they showed Hook and the reason he's become the person he is. (And yes, the OUaT actor is ridiculously attractive.)

  5. Okay, so I didn't read the review, for fear of potential spoilers, but I'm so glad you liked it! I've only ever seen great review of this book, and when I recently saw a negative one, I was really surprised, especially because I just ordered it! (Cant wait! Yay! :D) So yeah, your review kind of just sealed the deal for me :) (though I didn't read it. But that shows how much I trust you ;))

  6. Very insightful review. I read this a while back and really enjoyed it, but had a difficult time reviewing it. Have you read the original Peter Pan? I never have -- only know the story from movies and children's books. I think I should probably put that on my list.

  7. What's that? I'm not crying, I just have something in my eye.

    Seriously though, your review has brought back all the feels and I am actually tearing up a little. Oh Tiger Lily. It was so beautiful and so so sad. I mostly managed to keep it together through most of the book, tearing up occasionally but mostly under control. Then I got to the end, and that letter, oh man. I was sobbing uncontrollably.

    I love the quotes you pulled out. The moment when Tink realizes she means something to Tiger Lily gives me chills and I love the Peter Pan belongs to Tiger Lily so much. I agree, normally possessive relationship statements get my back up, but this one works.

    Great review! This makes me want to go reread asap.

  8. Oh God. This book. I wasn't expecting a whole lot from it when I picked it up but like.... OMG. I cried so bad when I read this book, it was RIDICULOUS. It's so well written and so beautiful! Great review, I completely agree with you!

    Literary Exploration

  9. I feel like maybe I'm one of the only people that didn't feel that much emotion towards this book. I did cry in one place which I won't say for fear of spoiling. I loved the story and the writing, but I really didn't connect with most of the characters like others seem to have. I did like having a reason for Tink hating Wendy so much though. I'm glad you loved this book, but in the end it wasn't for me. Great review :)

  10. Now I have to read this book! Despite what you wrote, you totally described how beautiful this story is. I need to read this ASAP. Great review! :)

  11. Yes. Just yes. I loved this book so much and it deserved the beautiful glorious review that you gave it. I loved Tiger Lily's relationship with Tink, I loved her relationship with Peter Pan, and I loved her relationship with Pine Sap. I loved everything about this book. But it also all broke my heart at the same time. So so amazing. <33333

    Nicole @ The Quiet Concert

  12. The idea of this book doesn't really appeal to me, but I may have to read it after your gushing review!

  13. Everyone seems to have such lovely things to say about this one. Must find myself a copy.

  14. I also read Tiger Lily this year. Wow you wrote so much about a rather short book. I also loved the book, but didn't nearly have this much to say.


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