This review can also be found on the NerdHerd Reads
Wow. Guys, this story. I was not expecting this. It was captivating, and sucked me in from the very beginning. It was such an emotional ride, and I loved every minute of it. I love how Jodi Lynn Anderson took our view of Neverland, of Peter Pan and Tiger Lily and Wendy and Tinkerbell, and completely changed it. Made us doubt everything we ever knew.
(Little side note here...I have never seen Peter Pan. Not the Disney version, not a movie version even though we own the one with Jeremy Sumpter, not a play version, nor the real story version. Now, I do feel that I have at least seen the beginning of the Disney version, perhaps multiple times, but I never get very far in my recollections. Definitely never get to Tiger Lily. In fact, I had no idea she existed until maybe about a year ago, when I discovered DisneyBound and had no idea who she was. So I went into this story completely ignorant and unbiased.)
First off, I love that the story was narrated by Tinkerbell. Obviously, since she doesn't talk in the movies, we don't get much from her point of view. So I think that it's awesome that she gets to get a word in, but also since she's a fairy and can flit away and eavesdrop on things, we get a wider scope of view on what is happening. She is often portrayed as the petty little fairy, and here we see that she is so much more than that.
I also loved the characters and their portrayals. They were so different from how they are usually portrayed (unless I'm missing something because I've never actually watched it).
Tiger Lily was found abandoned as an infant by the Shaman of the Sky Eaters, and adopted by him. Much to the chagrin of the other villagers, he lets her run pretty free and wild. She saves an Englander that washed up on shore after the villagers elected to just let him die, and that is the last straw. They arrange her marriage to an oaf, and she starts slipping away to spend more and more time in the woods. It is here that she meets the fabled Peter Pan and the Lost Boys, and starts spending time with them. Drawn to Peter, who is very much like her, the two begin to fall in love. Things getting worse in the village, with her marriage looming and an Englander who has turned the villagers to his ways and against the Shaman, and Tiger Lily is left trying to find a way to be with Peter.
But also on the island, as Tinkerbell can tell us, are the pirates. Hook and Smee and the rest. Hook is plotting Peter's death, and Smee has an agenda of his own with Tiger Lily. But with the two lovebirds only focused on each other, will they not notice before it's too late? And then, Wendy Darling arrives in Neverland.
This story was very captivating and emotional. When everything was taken away from Tiger Lily, she lost herself. But she also finds herself again, and I'm glad. The majority of this book isn't too emotional. You don't even realize you have become invested with the characters until--wham, everything comes at the end.
Yes, this book is sad. The ending is probably not "ideal" (especially for Tiger Lily/Peter Pan shippers) but it actually is perfect for the story. But it's not a depressing book. It's filled with hope, love, sadness, a bit of grief, laughs, and a new view on life. I loved it, and I would absolutely recommend it to anyone.