Whether you’ve read the original J.M. Barrie play or novel, seen the Disney film, eaten the peanut butter, or been exposed to any of the other countless adaptations out there, most people are probably familiar with the tale of Peter Pan and Neverland, and because of this familiarity, readers should be able to immediately connect with Peter David’s Tigerheart which is an homage to, an original retelling, and a sequel to the classic bedtime story.
As an homage, Tigerheart liberally borrows from J.M. Barrie’s classic including characters, places, and themes — names and certain elements have been changed such as The Boy instead of Peter Pan, Anyplace instead of Neverland, Captain Hack for Captain Hook, Vagabonds/Bully Boys in place of The Lost Boys, Fiddlefix for Tinker Bell, Gwenny instead of Wendy, Seirenes in place of mermaids, a sea serpent instead of a crocodile, and so on — and Peter David even goes so far as adopting the author’s fanciful narrative style, which is actually one of the book’s most endearing qualities, along with the novel’s ability to appeal to readers of all ages.
It is as an interpretation though where Tigerheart really shines, by telling a story that is fresh, imaginative and enchanting while retaining the whimsical nature and enduring spirit of the original. For starters, Paul Dear, or ‘Tigerheart’ as he will come to be known in the book, is really the star of the story instead of The Boy. What I like about Paul is that he’s like the anti-Peter Pan. Where The Boy is cocky, selfish, fearless, and wants to stay a boy forever, Paul wants to grow up, is modest, and cares more about others than himself. In fact, the whole reason Paul travels to Anyplace is not because of grand adventures and having fun, but because he wants to help his mom, and actually spends most of his time there sacrificing himself for others. Other interesting departures include Captain Slash (Captain Hack’s sister, a fellow pirate, and the novel’s main villain), Paul’s best friend, the snow tiger, Noplace, a wonderful subplot involving The Boy’s shadow, and The Boy’s parentage. Also of note is how certain ‘controversy’ was avoided in Peter David’s book compared to the original. In other words, there’s violence and one or two bad words in Tigerheart, it’s dark at times and deals with some adult issues, but the sexual innuendo has been toned down to virtually nothing and Peter keeps things politically correct.
More often than not, adaptations, reimaginings, or sequels rarely live up to the original, but in this case I have to say Peter David’s Tigerheart is even better than J.M. Barrie’s Peter and Wendy. At least, I enjoyed reading Tigerheart more. In fact, Tigerheart is easily one of the most charming novels I’ve ever read and is an instant favorite — the kind of book you just want to read over and over again while sharing the wonderment with as many people as possible.