Genre: Fantasy, Romance, YA
Immediately the book tells you what type of love story you're in for. This will not end in a happy ending and I was even more motivated to keep going. Perhaps I'm still set in my teenage ways where sometimes you crave some angsty books because, why not?
Tiger Lily is rated as Young Adult book and though I've seen comments about this is not the case, I tend to be in the middle. There are elements in this book that are explicit like the pirates murdering that some might not feel comfortable for younger audiences to read but there are also things suggested like sexual assault. Even though it's only ever suggested once or twice and could probably be missed by younger audiences, I would suggest this book for those of ages 15+.
I've mentioned in my blog before that I'm not much of a Young Adult genre reader. That I had to be "in the mood for it" to even consider reading one since every time I start one, I tend to dislike the main character so much. Well, I wasn't in a mood to read one but I definitely was in a mood to read a fairy tale retelling since I have a soft spot for those type of books ever since I read Spinning Silver.
Tiger Lily, our main character, does not fit in her village. She's the the village's shamans (Tik Tok) daughter but certainly does not behave as one. She's a bit of a tomboy and does give "Not Like Other Girls" sort of vibe at first like most female protagonist tend to do in this genre of books. I was a bit skeptical since I usually hate this trope but seeing how she interacts with other characters like Moon Eye, the Lost Boys, and, even, Wendy you catch the sense that she just wants to belong somewhere.
There was a beast in there. But there was also a girl who was afraid of being a beast, and who wondered if other people had beasts in their hearts too. There was strength, and there was also just the determination to look strong.
Moreover than that, she is a flawed character. She is young, falls in love with someone she isn't supposed to, and doesn't know how to love because the only love she's ever really experienced is from Tik Tok. She is a girl of few words--too guarded for her own good-- but loyal to her father and village.
In the retelling, Peter Pan is not written as carefree as most things try to depict him. He worries about the well being of the Lost Boys, has murdered to keep them all alive, and seeks to be reassured that he's good.
Peter loves to make promises. He has the best intentions of keeping them. It makes it worse, somehow, that he doesn't know how to. He thinks he's a nice boy, that's the worst part.
Watching the two falling in love, you can't help but cheer for them. They understood each other and it constantly breaks your heart to know what was coming because all good things have to come to an end at some point, right?
The side characters were written well and the side plot was actually interesting. When we switched to the side plot of what was going on with the Englanders and the village, I found myself apprehensive. Not because I was dreading it but because the tell tale signs of colonialism and how it affected the village were showing it self. The village's sudden opinion change of Tik Tok, a man who preferred to dressed as a woman, just because Phillip (the Englander) mentioned that it wasn't right tugged at my heart strings.
Other characters like Pine Sap, Moon Eye, Hook and Smee where interesting enough and definitely felt unique in their own ways.
Neverland is whimsical and deadly. While tidbits of Neverland's nature is thrown in here and there, this is more evident on how the story is actually told. In reality, this story is told from Tinker Bell's point of view. I found myself loving Tinker Bell and greatly enjoyed how she was written! In this universe, faeries can read/understands people's minds to a certain degree and because of this, they are mute. I thought this would hinder relating to Tiger Lily but it actually didn't one bit. It was such fascinating lore and I greatly enjoyed it when the author threw in other random worldbuilding tidbits of Faeries or anything about Neverland.
Tiger Lily is a beautifully written book about a person's first love. I'm not the biggest fan of YA books but I didn't feel like I read one. It is a bit dark, it is bit whimsical and above all else, it's a love story of two lonely people who fell in love. The characters are young, ergo their love is young, but you'll find yourself swept up in the unique emotions that a young person's first love can only provide.
After all, at some point, things have to change, right? Even in Neverland where nothing ages.