Bonnie's Reviews > Tiger Lily

Tiger Lily by Jodi Lynn Anderson
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Dec 07, 12

bookshelves: 2012-books, young-adult, ya-fantasy-sci-fi
Read in October, 2012

I love the idea of a book fleshing out Tiger Lily and centering on a love triangle between her and Peter and Wendy. Even the narration by Tinker Bell had potential. Peter Pan is a delightful book in its own right, but there is also a lot of depth and character potential to be mined in a retelling (plus, Neverland just seems like a very fun and rich setting to revisit).

But this feels more like fanfiction than anything else. A loose framework of a famous story used to tell an entirely different story by the author. And not even a good one at that. This fails both as an original story and as a retelling of a classic.

First off, Neverland society makes no sense. Considering that the original Neverland is just supposed to be a setting of every little Victorian boy’s fantasy (dangerous pirates! Indian princesses! a society of children!) it would take creativity and cleverness to really make it work and Anderson just doesn’t.

I mean, take Tiger Lily’s tribe. They are essentially immortal – they stop aging at a certain point. And they seem pretty matriarchal – the only grown male in a position of influence mentioned is TikTok (he's the medicine man) and he seems to have no power in this tribe (seriously, why did Anderson make him so weak? He never stands up for himself or his daughter – (view spoiler) and he doesn’t influence the tribe in any way). So why an arranged marriage/tradition of the bride taking care of the mother-in-law and future husband before the marriage? Why would women who are potentially centuries old and brush off the medicine man accept this crap?

The characters were also underwhelming. Everyone was so flat and the characteristics were so obvious: “Tiger Lily is tough and too competitive! Peter is flighty! Wendy is enthusiastic and gentle!” Peter in particular has the potential to be an absolutely fascinating character - I felt from the original he was a little bit sociopathic. He's boastful and selfish and careless and arrogant - but also appealingly charismatic and brave and has his own strong sense of justice. But in this book he's just kind of flatly self-centered and thoughtless. Tiger Lily was also standard "tough girl" who also weirdly just gave up on things. She gets engaged to this terrible guy and...does nothing about it. She doesn't even consider running away to live with the Lost Boys or trying to get the missionary she rescued on her side in some way (by, you know, reminding him she saved his life which she never does, even when his criticisms of her father have devastating consequences). Also she treats poor Pine Sap - who is the best friend anyone could ask for - like absolute crap (and she keeps thinking things like “woah, no girl will ever love him! I certainly don’t!” Nice way to think of someone who has been there for you your entire life, Tiger Lily!)

The language was also a huge issue for me. What’s up with the “okays” and “I guess” and “yeahs”? This is technically historical fiction fantasy – it clearly takes place in the Victorian Era. It’s like Anderson didn’t even try. It doesn’t have to be perfect historical English, but it would be nice if an effort was made to not make everyone sound like 21st century kids.

And while I realize adaptations do not stick squarely with the original source, I think some of the things Anderson changed made the book worse. Why is Wendy's entrance into Neverland so different? Why does she not have her brothers with her? I think it’s pretty important that Peter seduces the Darlings into Neverland. And that Wendy wasn’t the only Darling to make it!
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