Review: Tiger Lily by Jodi Lynn Anderson
Tiger Lily by Jodi Lynn Anderson
My rating: 5 of 5 teacups
"Sometimes I think that maybe we are just stories. Like we may as well just be words on a page, because we're only what we've done and what we are going to do."
Everything about the appearance and description of this book it seems is geared towards the wrong audience. If it hadn't been for Crowinator's review I would have written this off as another cheesy romance that's okay when you're eight years old and watching a disney film but should otherwise be avoided. There are a number of readers I can see picking this up: romance enthusiasts, those who enjoy novels that are like disney films, or those who've read Anderson's other books (girl scouts and teen troubles). They will probably be disappointed.
How best can I put this? I know, I'll use tv shows! Let's take 90210 first of all. This is a show about rich people, celebrities, first world problems and a lifestyle with glitter on it. It's about life in Los Angeles. You know what else is about life in LA? Angel (Buffy spin-off). But Angel tells a different story, one of dingy backstreets, prostitutes, drug addicts and criminals. It's the same city but it's the story of lives that don't sparkle. If you're wondering how this is at all relevant, well, Peter Pan is 90210, and Tiger Lily is Angel.
This novel tells the tale of the dark underbelly of Neverland where the good guys don't always win and love doesn't always triumph. It's so much darker and sadder than I could have possibly imagined. Even though we are told from the start that this is a love story, it is more than that. It's about loss and loneliness and fear of change. Because who would fear change more than those who'd never had to experience growing up and dying?
Tiger Lily is one of the loneliest characters ever. Her other tribe members believe her to be cursed and she has long battled against the torment of not quite being accepted. After one misstep too many, she is told she must marry Giant - a violent oaf of a man who mistreats her whenever the chance presents itself. It is only natural that when she discovers a boy out in the forest who's almost as lonely as she is that she would fall in love with him.
By telling the story from Tinkerbell's point of view, 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. The story itself is cleverly woven with elements of the one we know from disney and the original book. Did you ever wonder how a crocodile came to be hanging around with a ticking clock down his throat? Well, now I know.
The villains in this story are as complex as everyone else and Anderson offers new and interesting traits for familiar characters. James Hook is a sad, old man who came to Neverland on dreams of staying young forever - but his mission failed. He has since then lost himself to drink and his obsession with Peter Pan; Hook's hatred for himself and the world around him is all channelled into his hatred for Peter. Also, Smee (remember him?) is a strange case who murders those he admires for their strength and beauty but then mourns their deaths.
I don't know how deliberate it was, but I found myself comparing the "Englanders" in this book with the settlers in North America that made every effort to change the religion and culture of the natives. Tiger Lily's tribe rescue an injured Englander and nurse him back to full health, but once he is back on his feet he begins "educating" the tribe in the rules of God and what is appropriate dress and how those who don't fulfill their purpose will not go to heaven. You can see how easily it would be to change people through fear of eternal punishment, how to easily put what-ifs in their mind and make them question what they've always believed.
So, this is not the story I expected to read. But it's beautiful, I loved the writing style and the characters. The people in this book have their strengths and they have their weaknesses, and sometimes those weaknesses are too much for them to handle. The ending is both happy and sad, it isn't the one you wanted but I guess that's life for you.
Posted on July 10 2012
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