It’s no paradise—white-sand beaches and spectacular sunsets come with mud, mosquitoes and croc-infested swamps—but guided by fragile, insect-size faerie Tink, readers are drawn into this richly re-imagined Neverland anyway.
Tink is obsessed with Tiger Lily, whose tribe avoids pirates and Peter Pan’s lost boys, believed to carry the aging disease. (Neverlanders stop aging when some life-defining event occurs.) Adopted daughter of shaman Tik Tok, Tiger Lily is proud and competitive, kept at a wary distance by her peers except for gentle Pine Sap, whose unconditional love she appreciates but doesn’t return. Athletic Tiger Lily, nonathletic Pine Sap and Tik Tok, whose identity doesn’t match his gender, share a bond that’s shaken after Tiger Lily rescues an English shipwreck survivor, then falls in love with Peter, following him into an emotional wilderness as intoxicating and dangerous as Neverland itself. Equally strong passions rule psychotic Smee, alcoholic Hook and, especially, Peter, with his need to be best—from winning games to protecting the lost boys. He’s irresistible; even mermaids, with their long hair and sharp teeth, aren’t immune. Tink’s love and helplessness (faeries read thoughts but cannot speak) become a source of tension and metaphor in this post-colonial fable that covers a lot of ground: wilderness and civilization, gender and power, time and change.
Working with the darker threads of Barrie’s bittersweet classic, Anderson weaves an enchanting tale. (Fantasy. 14 & up)