Gina Denny's Reviews > Tyger Tyger

Tyger Tyger by Kersten Hamilton
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's review
Feb 12, 2011

liked it
bookshelves: ya
Recommended for: 10-12 and up (depending on the kid)
Read from March 11 to 14, 2011 , read count: 1

This book really was somewhere between two and three stars, and I gave it the extra because it was really, really exciting towards the end, and because there's tremendous potential here that I hope will be developed more in the sequels.

There are three ways (that I know of) to write a long, intricate backstory.

1) You write it all up in a "Once upon a time..." fashion, narrated by an unnamed person and include it as a prologue/ first chapter in your book (i.e.- Lord of the Rings, The Belgariad)

2) You get to a point in the story where it is required, then you sit everybody down, and one of the characters spiels the whole thing off in one giant monologue. At the end of the chapter, the narrator usually says something about being "snapped back to the present moment" or "forgot that we were still in my backyard," conveying the fact that the story was completely immersive (i.e.- The Twilight Saga: Eclipse, New Moon)

3) You give little snippets of it here and there, assuming that your reader remembered the tidbit you gave out earlier, give no explanations, use foreign languages with no translation or pronunciation guides. The story gets told by three or more characters along the way, with different perspectives and different cadence of speech. It becomes disjointed and difficult to follow.

I'll let you guess which one Tyger, Tyger uses. Hint: I didn't like it.

It's rare that you can pull off the third, Harry Potter did it pretty well, but even then, if you think about it, book six was really one big, fat monologue by Dumbledore giving the whole backstory, summing up everything we learned up to that point and filling in the blanks. So, I see Harry Potter as a hybrid of method #2 and method #3.

The folklore on which the novel is based is pretty complicated, and the author uses a LOT of Gaelic terms, which makes it even more difficult to digest. Words like yggdrasil, dtaga, atomriug, foisitin and oendatad that I can't pronounce made some of the story feel jilting; I actually felt as though I was stumbling over words as I read.

That said, the story itself was fun. It was fast paced and exciting. The characters were intriguing, with just the right amount of depth for this speed of a read. The fantasy world that Hamilton creates is beautiful and rich, making it so easy to picture and imagine yourself sitting right there with the characters.

Tyger, Tyger isn't a bad book. It's just juvenile. And I know it's a YA novel, but there are YA novels that are marketed as such simply because they have a teenaged protagonist, but the theme and story is appealing to adults, and then there are YA novels like this one. The story, characters, jokes and romance (such as it is) is only appealing to teenagers. For instance: one of the characters has a bad vocabulary. She confuses the word "psychic" with "psychotic" (ba-dum-ching!). I thought that was hilarious when I was sixteen. Not so much now, though. There's some jokes about poop, a bra showing for two seconds is the most horrifying thing a girl can think of, etc. The tagline is: "Your life is totally in danger!" and this is not a spoof.

Just giving you fair warning, because I didn't have any.

Parental advisories:

Sex 1/5: A boy comes out of a shower to fight a goblin, and is still naked. He's very embarrassed, and so is the teenaged girl in the room. Teenagers talk briefly of lust and sexy bodies.

Language 2/5: A few PG curse words, one or two uses of the "s" word. Most of the language is deliberately edited by the characters because there is a younger child along on the quest and they don't want to set a bad example. There's a lot of "dang" "crap" "heck" type of euphemisms as a result, which is nice, because it really does alleviate a lot of the dirty language that would come up.

Violence 2/5: A fist fight occurs when a boy tries to stand up for a mentally disabled boy. A goblin gets stabbed and blood spurts everywhere. A goblin gets eaten by hellhounds. A "hunting party" of partially-morphed shapeshifters covered in blood chase our main characters. A boy bites the toe off an enemy. A sprite stabs several characters, but her knife is less than a quarter of an inch long, so there's not much damage.

Substance Abuses 0/5: None. No alcohol, no cigarettes.


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