I was so very excited for Tiger Lily. I love the Peter Pan universe and anything related to Neverland. The whole world is so creative and unique that I just can't help falling in love with anything kinda, sorta related to Neverland.
Until I read Tiger Lily. This book honestly is the disappointment of my book year so far. It was recommended by so many people, but I didn't like the story line, felt like it needed another editor and was left frustrated by the missed opportunities..
The story is narrated by Tinkerbell and it starts prior to the events of Barrie's Peter Pan. Tinkerbell follows Tiger Lily, who is living in an Indian camp with her father Tik Tok. Both he and her don't fit in - he's too feminine for the Indians and Tiger Lily is too reserved. One night, Tiger Lily literally runs into Pan and their friendship / relationship begins.
The Indians hate Pan and Pan and the lost boys have never seen a girl. This means that the relationship is very weird, to say the least. Tiger Lily has to hide everything and the boys try to make Tiger Lily one of them. Until Wendy arrives and takes over Tiger's place. Wendy is a "real girl", with British beauty and ideas about a family. She quickly becomes a mother to the boys and Pan, who is notoriously unfamiliar with what a real relationship is, forgets all about Tiger Lily. Meanwhile, Tiger Lily's village has an English inhabitant who is changing things around there too, meaning that Tiger Lily has many things on her plate. And Captain Hook is also roaming around the island, looking for Peter Pan.
I have to give the author credit for attempting to tackle such a famous world with so many well-loved characters. It's always hard to please all the fans of a work and novels like these ones are very exposed to criticism.
However, that doesn't take away that I for one wasn't very happy about the personality of Tiger Lily. I expected her to be so much more. Because Tinkerbell is the narrator (another decision that I'll discuss later), we didn't really get to go inside Tiger Lily's head. We can only know what she does or what Tinkerbell thinks she's thinking. And Tinkerbell made her sound so very vanilla.
Somehow, this native american girl on Neverland, the most fantastical island in the world, became a typical YA narrator. She defies her tribe by going to see Peter, she gets jealous when he gives attention to someone else, she tries to make him regret that, but starts regretting that decision and saves him anyway. I wish she would have really taken a stand - punched Peter when he became mean to her after Wendy arrived, showed Hook where to shove his plans once she figured out he wasn't sincere, told her whole tribe to go eff themselves... Something. Anything.
Because the reader doesn't know what she is thinking and doesn't real hear her doing anything special, she just became a pawn in a story. This was Tiger Lily's chance for agency ; to move from a story where she's a stereotypical Indian side-character to taking control of her own story. But this didn't happen at all.
I adore Tinkerbell - I always have and I always will. And not the cutesy modern Disney version, but the mean spirited fairy who goes after what she wants. My question is: where was this fairy in Tiger Lily?
This Tinkerbell was so annoyingly good. She becomes close to Tiger Lily and wants to be her friend. She even sacrifices her love for Peter, in like 5 seconds, so she can be happy for Tiger and Peter. What? Where is the jealous Tinkerbell? The original one can only feel one emotion at the time, because she is so small, and this Tink was just far too complicated for that. She read like she was a human being. Why chose her as a narrator if you're not going to use her fairy qualities?
The problem here probably was that Tink as in the Barrie version would be a highly untrustworthy narrator. But this Tink is too complicated and not true to the fairy idea. In this book, another narrator (I vote for Tiger Lily) would have helped so much.
The only character I liked in this book (I'm not even going to discuss Wendy, because she sucks in the book, the movies and this book) was Peter Pan. This was the one character that was exactly like I imagined he would be. A tough guy who is a scared little boy deep down inside. He wasn't very original or creative, but he made completely sense as Peter Pan. Even his decision at the end (which was kinda heartbreaking) made sense for him. I really felt like the author understood Pan the same way I did.
I don't think Jodi Lynn is a bad author, but I think some parts of the book just didn't really work for me.
First off, I wasn't very impressed with the world building. I understand the difficulties with working with a world someone else already created, but that was the author's choice. There wasn't much added to Neverland and the stuff that was, about the Indians mostly, was so disappointing. Is it historically accurate with how we see Native Indians; as people in touch with nature and a strong believe in herbal medicine and superstition? Yes. But it's Neverland - the Indians didn't have to be at all similar to our ideas of 15th century Native Americans. This was such a HUGE opportunity of expansion on Neverland and it just wasn't used.
And then some of the sentences... I'll just leave the one that made me literally throw my book against the wall.
"His hair was caked in dirt and none of his features were visible, except his eyes glinted in the glow of the moonlight, and I got a yellow-lit glimpse of his features: a pale face, smooth and animate." (I thought you just said you couldn't see his features??)
Obviously, I didn't really enjoy this book - it has to be my first one out of five stars. I was SO excited to buy this book and almost nothing worked about it for me. Though it always pains me to give a bad rating (I know how hard authors work on their stories), I have to stay honest as a reviewer and I can't give this a higher rating. None of the characters, except for Peter who didn't have a very big role, matched the idea I had of them in my head. I guess this kind of book is always a hit-or-miss-thing. It was a miss for me.