Monday, September 10, 2012

Review: Tiger Lily by Jodi Lynn Anderson

Title: Tiger Lily
Author: Leigh Bardugo
Pages: 292
Publisher: Harper Teen
Series: Stand Alone
Released: July 3rd, 2012


The Story

"Let me tell you something straight off. This is a love story, but not like any you've 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." (p.3)
Before Peter Pan belonged to Wendy, he belonged to the girl with the crow feather in her hair. When Tiger Lily first meets Peter Pan she is both afraid and fascinated. She soon falls under his spell and finds herself risking everything to be with him.

When Tiger Lily is promised in marriage to an awful man in her tribe, she must decide whether she will accept her fate and hold onto her old life, or run away with Peter to an uncertain future.

Our Heroine: Tiger Lily

"For a long time Tiger Lily took up with the boys, going with them on hunts, dominating in mud fights. Only, she did too well at everything. She was too fast; her aim was too good. Her quiet confidence gave her a reputation for being haughty, and the boys...didn't like being beaten." (p.19)
Tiger Lily was a completely different character from what I was expecting and had imagined, but I fell in love with her! She was wild, quiet, spirited, strong, and beautifully flawed. For all of her strength she is undone by her love for one boy. I could empathize with her tomboyish ways--she is more interested in hunting, swimming, climbing trees, and running through the forest than trying to be like a girl.

Unfortunately, her village frowns upon her behavior. My heart went out to her. Not only did they shun her because she refused to become what they believed an ideal girl should be, but they also shunned her because they believed she was cursed. Because of this she has few friends and is more hardened/guarded.

But even though Tiger Lily acts like a boy, you can see that she still wants to be thought of as beautiful when she is teased about being ugly. She pretends she doesn't care, but in reality her feelings are hurt. How often do young girls say they don't care about their looks when they really do? I could totally relate to this.

Tiger Lily was a fascinating, layered, and flawed character with lots of internal struggles, and I completely fell in love with her!.

Our Villains: Captain Hook and Smee

"To get to Neverland, Hook had begged, stolen, and eventually murdered. He'd searched for years. He'd become the things he'd hated as a younger man. So imagine his surprise when he'd arrived at long last, and didn't work. He was still growing older... Time had revealed to James Hook a different kind of James Hook from the one he had thought he was." (p. 122)
I was expecting Captain Hook to be the primary villain of the story, but I feel that Smee actually played a bigger role as a villain. These are not the same villains from the Disney movie! Smee isn't the laughable, bumbling pirate--he is a murderer who kills those he admires.

Hook is portrayed as a crazed and broken man. He is obsessed with finding the lost boys and Peter Pan and getting rid of them, but the traditional rivalry between him and Peter is absent which I sort of missed.

I found myself pitying Hook more than fearing him, but Smee gave me chills. This was why I decided that Smee was more of the villain than Hook. I liked that the author made both villains human and gave reasons behind their actions so that they weren't villains for the sake of being villains.

Main Characters

  • Tinkerbell
 "To understand what it's like to be a faerie, tall as a walnut and genetically gifted with must first understand that all faeries are mute. ...It's good in some ways, not to have a language. It makes you see things. You turn your attention, not to babbling about yourself...but to observing. (p.3-4)
I was very surprised when I started reading this book and realized that it was told in first person from Tinkerbell's perspective. I was totally caught off guard! Honestly, I wasn't sure that I was going to like it. But as I got further into the book it really grew on me, and by the end I couldn't have imagined the story being told differently.

It was interesting that we got to learn about different things about Tinkerbell's past since it was told from her perspective. I really enjoyed this. I had never thought about where Tinkerbell had come from before. However, this Tinkerbell was different than what I am used to--the jealous, conniving, vicious, sneaky Tink. I wish there would have been a little more of that.

  • Peter Pan
"Peter sometimes looked aloof and distant; sometimes his face was open and soft as a bruise. Sometimes he looked completely at Tiger Lily, as if she were the point on which all the universe revolved, as if she were the biggest mystery of life, or as if she were a flame and he couldn't not look even though he was scared. And sometimes it would all disappear into carelessness, confidence, amusement, as if he didn't need anyone or anything on this earth to feel happy and alive." (p. 154)
This was a completely different Peter Pan than what I am used to. I felt that he was more somber, and not as immature, boastful, arrogant, and childish as he is usually portrayed.

I feel like the hardest part of reading re-tellings like this is that you already have the characters so set in your mind that it is difficult to push these feelings aside and open yourself up to new interpretations.

The romance between Peter and Tiger Lily was sweet, child-like, innocent, and at the same time heartbreaking. I loved every moment of it, even the parts that broke my heart.

The Setting: Neverland

"These days, there is no new world. The maps have long since settled and stayed put. People know the shapes of Africa, Asia, and South America. And they know which beasts were mythical and which weren't...The rest is all stories, and stories have been put in their place. Now, the outsiders keep their eyes on their own shores, and we keep our eyes on ours. Too far off route, we've been overlooked, and most of us don't think about the world outside." (p. 2)
This is a completely different Neverland than what you are used to. Forget the Disney version--this Neverland is darker and less magical (no using faerie dust to fly) yet somehow still enchanting.

There are still mermaids and pirates and faeries, however, and people in Neverland don't grow old. But it is a very dangerous place, full of vicious beasts, pirates, and scheming mermaids.

Rather than Neverland being at "the second star to the right and straight on til morning", the author takes a more realistic approach and locates Neverland in an obscure part of the ocean in our own world.

To Read Or Not To Read? 


First of all, if you're going to read this book do so with an open mind and a clear head. Forget all of your pre-conceptions about the story of Peter Pan if you want to properly enjoy this book. This was so difficult for me, because I kept wanting to compare it to other versions I'm familiar with rather than take it for what it was.

Second, this book is deep. I loved the different themes in this book--not changing who you are to make others happy, finding acceptance, realizing that there are different types of love and ways to love someone...I'm sure there are many more that I didn't grasp. I would definitely read this book again!

Strangely enough, the thing I liked most about this book was the thing that I also disliked? Is that even possible? I don't really understand it. But it was the bittersweet ending. I appreciated that the author had the guts to write the hard ending, rather than the one most people would approve of.

All in all, this is an underrated book in my opinion! It was amazing, though I can totally see why some people would dislike it. I encourage you to pick it up for yourself and give it a try!

Writing: 4/5
Characters: 4/5
Plot: 5/5
Creativity/Originality: 5/5
Kept me interested: 5/5


  1. Very well thought out review! I like how you highlighted the different characters! I've seen a few reviews around the blogosphere and some people like it while some don't. I really like the idea of hearing the story from Tiger Lily's point of view, so will probably give it a read sooner or later.

    My Saturday Situation

    1. Thanks! :D I hope it was helpful! Yeah, I think it's one of those books that you either love or hate and I can see why some people don't like it but you just have to keep in mind its a re-telling and try not to compare it to the original too much.


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