3 out of 5 stars.
So here’s the thing:
This book was written beautifully. The writing alone is enough to make me want to read another book by Jodi Lynn Anderson. There’s a reason she’s NY Times bestselling author! Wanna know magic? How about “fairies can’t talk, but they can see people’s thoughts.” Bam. Instant first person omniscient. The resulting voice was excellent- magical, insightful, poetic, and with so much Tinkerbell personality.
The character of Tiger Lily was relatable, endearing, and so so real. Always portrayed as a powerful Indian princess, in this book she’s shown as a quiet outsider whose strength makes her the target of cruel jokes and superstition.
Peter was drawn incredibly well- arrogant, sensitive, unsure, and cock-sure, all at the same time. Selfless and selfish, and always in action.
(side note: I particularly loved Smee- a serial killer who kills only people he respects because it makes him cry. That is quinessential Neverland.)
HERE’S WHERE THE SPOILERS START! THEY EXPLAIN WHY I GAVE THIS WELL-WRITTEN BOOK 3 STARS.
There was one thing I couldn’t get over. And I could say all the wonderful (true) things about this book that I want, but one fact remains: Peter Pan went away with Wendy. Worse than that, he grew up.
End of story.
I’m not just bitter because I thought that Peter belonged with Tiger Lily (although the love story was well done). Or bitter about the way Wendy is portrayed- I’ve always thought she was bossy and a little presumptuous. I’m not bitter at all!
I’m… broken. Livid. Indignant.
And a lot of kids won’t even understand the enormity of Peter Pan growing up. They’ll just say, “Oh who cares? The story was re-envisioned! How creative!”
But Peter Pan represents eternal youth. There is no Neverland without him. If the minute he’d left, everyone in Neverland had started aging at an “English” rate, that would have been awesome. Because that would have been in keeping with the myth of Peter Pan.
It’s as if Alice decided to live in Wonderland. Or worse, Little Red stayed in the belly of the Big Bad Wolf.
Tiger Lily is not a re-telling of a classic story from a new perspective. It is a story that uses the myth of Peter Pan and Neverland to tell a different story entirely, and it’s not the kind of story I like to think about. Not because of the hard-knock reality that’s written into it (Tiger Lily’s friend is raped repeatedly and the narrative skims over it), but because of the destruction of the meaning of the Peter Pan myth.
There were a lot of changes made to the myth: a more realistic Neverland (on a map!) in which people age, albeit inconsistently. There is no pixie dust or flying. Hook is a sad old man, which we always sort of knew but was blatantly (beautifully) explained. The lost boys are truly lost. They are all on the brink of manhood, not teen-hood, getting too big for their den and too old to keep evading the pirates. Fairies exist, but can’t talk.
Yeah, these things irked me a little. But I understand that re-imagining a classic story means you’re allowed to change the world, and even the characters. But I was pushed over the edge when Peter left for England. In my opinion, that is inexcusable.
I don’t want to live in (or read about) a world where Peter Pan grows up.