Monday, July 21, 2008
Tigerheart -- Peter David
Peter David is one versatile guy. He's had an enviable career and written all kinds of books, from Star Trek novels to a werewolf tale (Howling Mad). He's been on the NYTBR bestseller list and scripted many comic books (he had along run with The Incredible Hulk). Now he's taking his turn at the story of Peter Pan, or what I suppose Hollywood would call a "reimagining" of the story.
A boy named Paul Dear has a vivid imagination. He talks to pixies and loves his father's stories of mermaids and such. When his infant sister dies, the family is torn apart, and Paul goes to the Anyplace to find another baby for his mother. The Anyplace and its inhabitants, though they don't have the names Barrie gave them, are clearly analogues of Neverland, Peter Pan, and his various pals and enemies. Sort of like Neverland in an alternate universe.
There's plenty action, what with pirates, storms, Indians, giant tigers, and such. There's also humor and pathos, along with a lot of things about growing up. It's all held together by the voice of the omniscient narrator, who doesn't at all mind intruding and making amusing comments along the way. David is having his fun here, and while the book is supposedly aimed at a young audience, there's plenty for adults, too. It's hard for me to believe that David doesn't have certain contemporary adult concerns in mind when he writes that ". . . The Boy never sways from his course, secure that he never misspeaks; never makes mistakes; and never does anything that isn't justified, no matter how unjustified. Thus are the dangers of living in an insular world surrounded by those who tell you only what you want to hear rather than what you need to." Or maybe I'm reading too much into it.
It's not necessary to be familiar with Barrie's novel to read this one, but if you do know Peter Pan, you'll find plenty of inside jokes to cheer you along. I enjoyed the book, but it's certainly different from, say, a Gold Medal novel. You've been warned.