Tuesday, November 11, 2008

Book Review: Tigerheart by Peter David

I biked to school today, and the weather kept switching back between raining and snowing. Personally, I wanted option c): neither, but that didn't seem to be in the cards.
Onto the book!
Tigerheart is essentially an adaptation to Peter Pan, in which the main character, Paul, travels to Anyplace (the Neverland analogue) to find a new baby sister for his mother.
An adaptation is a tricky thing, and an adaptation of a children's story is even trickier. To reach the highest level of success, it needs to appeal to the children audience, but also to adults who experienced the original story when they were children. Luckily, Tigerheart satisfies both.
Narratively, the book hits an interesting (though compelling) note. The tone is fairly unusual for a Peter David book; it focuses less on jokes and amusing dialogue than usual, and feels more like a very erudite and deeply reflective children's book. (With a lot of fight scenes and action sequences, in case anyone thinks they'll get bored.) David's showing some impressive versatility here.
As you might gather from the use of "Anyplace" over Neverland, David has chosen to use his own names for the various characters in the story, to the point where he reimagines some traits altogether--for example, it's Captain Hack now, with a hatchet for an arm, and he was eaten not by a crocadile, but a giant sea serpent. While this is kind of a risky move, I think it really pays off; David emphasizes that these characters have grown bigger than their names, into archetypes and ideas--while at the same time acknowledging that everyone has a different picture of them in their heads. Morever, the story is of such high quality that misgivings are put aside. I can't honestly remember ever sitting through the Disney movie, or reading the original book, but I still felt some sort of nostalgia. It kept coming up in David's dead-on portrayals of Wendy, Tinkerbell, the Lost Boys, and the (ok, this is where the book shows its age) Indians, and new additions like Paul and Captain Hack's Sister (Slash, of course) feel like they've been there all along. "The Boy" may or may not be an exact duplicate of Peter Pan, but after 200 some pages of pirates, shadows, and adventure, I really didn't care.
Tigerheart is one of those rare books that truly deserve the label of "all ages." It's insightful, clever, and fun. It may not be perfect (the narrator is a little grating, at times), but it's a good read.

Two hatchets up.

Later Days.

1 comment:

Anonymous said...

Excellent. Thanks for the recommend.
I've got one back at you, and it also deals with Peter Pan.
It's a new novel based on J.M. Barrie's idea for more!
Click my name to see.