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The Tiger Flu

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In this visionary novel by Larissa Lai--her first in sixteen years--a community of parthenogenic women, sent into exile by the male-dominated Salt Water City, goes to war against disease, technology, and powerful men that threaten them with extinction.

Kirilow is a doctor apprentice whose lover Peristrophe is a "starfish," a woman who can regenerate her own limbs and organs, which she uses to help her clone sisters whose organs are failing. When a denizen from Salt Water City suffering from a mysterious flu comes into their midst, Peristrophe becomes infected and dies, prompting Kirilow to travel to Salt Water City, where the flu is now a pandemic, to find a new starfish who will help save her sisters. There, Kirilow meets Kora, a girl-woman desperate to save her family from the epidemic. Kora has everything Kirilow is looking for, except the will to abandon her own family. But before Kirilow can convince her, both are kidnapped by a group of powerful men to serve as test subjects for a new technology that can cure the mind of the body.

Bold, beautiful, and wildly imaginative, The Tiger Flu is at once a female hero's saga, a cyberpunk thriller, and a convention-breaking cautionary tale--a striking metaphor for our complicated times.

334 pages, Paperback

First published October 23, 2018

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About the author

Larissa Lai

14 books178 followers
Larissa Lai has authored three novels, The Tiger Flu, Salt Fish Girl and When Fox Is a Thousand; two poetry collections, sybil unrest (with Rita Wong) and Automaton Biographies; a chapbook, Eggs in the Basement; and a critical book, Slanting I, Imagining We: Asian Canadian Literary Production in the 1980s and 1990s. A recipient of the Astraea Foundation Emerging Writers' Award, she has been a finalist for the Books in Canada First Novel Award, the Tiptree Award, the Sunburst Award, the City of Calgary W.O. Mitchell Award, the bpNichol Chapbook Award, the Dorothy Livesay Prize and the ACQL Gabrielle Roy Prize for Literary Criticism.

Larissa was born in La Jolla, California and grew up in St. John's, Newfoundland. She spent the 1990s as a freelance writer and cultural organizer. Her first publication was an essay about Asian Canadian contemporary media, published in the catalogue for the 1991 exhibition Yellow Peril: Reconsidered. She has held writer-in-residence positions at the University of Calgary, Simon Fraser University and the University of Guelph. In 2001, she completed an MA in Creative Writing at the University of East Anglia. From 2001-2006, she did a PhD in English at the University of Calgary. She was Assistant Professor in Canadian Literature at UBC from 2007-2014. In 2014, she returned to the University of Calgary to take up a Canada Research Chair in Creative Writing.

She likes dogs, is afraid of cats, and feels at home in both Vancouver and Calgary.

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5 stars
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316 (33%)
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299 (32%)
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89 (9%)
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Displaying 1 - 30 of 198 reviews
Profile Image for Michael.
657 reviews969 followers
June 3, 2020
Some books are hard to sum up, and this is one of them. Set in post-apocalyptic Vancouver, in a world devastated by climate change, crawling with monsters, and plagued by a mysterious, man-killing flu, the plot charts the sundry trials of a pair of girls on the cusp of coming of age, one ultra violent and one less so, who are united only by their desire to save each of their families from a set of common enemies. The pacing’s frenetic, the mood hallucinatory. Recalling the works of feminist postmodernists such as Kathy Acker and Helen Oyeyemi, the story zigzags around in a way that resists careless readings, but understanding everything also isn’t the point; there are so many gaps, leaps, and twists that pinning things down to a single explanation would be reductive and take away from how captivating the book is.
Profile Image for Hannah.
225 reviews70 followers
February 4, 2019
This book felt like I inhaled some strange, out-of-this-world, hallucinogenic drug. If you think the cover is eclectic and psychedelic, wait until you actually read this.

This novel takes readers on an absolute mind f***. There’s an exiled lesbian commune with a genetic mutation that allows some of them to asexually reproduce. “Starfish” women that can regenerate limbs and organs. An insidious technology that separates the mind from the body. A rampant, deadly disease that primarily affects men. An Earth devastated by environmental ruin, geopolitical upheaval, hallucinogenic drugs, and sly dancing girls that can cha-cha-cha away your most precious belongings.

I’m pretty sure I had no clue what was going on for the last 25% of the book but I still loved it. Some critiques (besides the confusing nature of the latter quarter) I had were that I wanted to know more. I wanted to know about the politics between the countries, the nature of the companies, how everything came to be. But this book is already flooded with a frenzy of colors, ideas, and random events I have no clue how all that could have been added.
Profile Image for inciminci.
310 reviews19 followers
June 28, 2022
I swear, I totally am the kind of person that needs their fiction to be speculative – yet here I am shaking my head because I just cannot deal with this fascinating world Larissa Lai built. I just have no idea what's happening. I finished this book days ago and waited for some epiphany, but ask me what it is about and I'll tell you there's a starfish who is an organ donor who can grow back organs and limbs that a crazy singing surgeon amputates; and a tiger flu that affects only men but not always; and that men who survive are thus tiger men and it will all sound insane because this book is insane and I'm just not in the frame of mind to read and understand and enjoy it. So I guess I will read it later some time and I will enjoy it.
Profile Image for Netanella.
4,177 reviews12 followers
November 26, 2022
Well, I can't say that I understood everything that was going on in this book, but I oh-my-fucking-god what an amazing story that Larissa Lai tells here. The book quickly immersed me in the alternating perspectives of two young women whose stories come together frantically. Groom Kirikow lives in an exiled, hidden community of cloned women who reproduce parthenogenically and harvest replacement organs from a starfish community member. Kora Ko lives in a decaying city where the virulent tiger flu has killed most men and some women, a thieving girl gang from the Dance School prowls the neighborhoods for tin cans and other detritus from the before time, and hallucinogenic drugs like N-lite and forget-me-do appear to be the rage. There's a pair of mysterious satellites, Eng and Chang, that are operating for the sun and moon, the soil and its resulting vegetation is diseased, and most humans barely eke out an existence.

What a wild and trippy ride this was. The backstory of the feud between two key, mysterious players, Isabelle and Elizabieta, was never fully explained to my satisfaction, but perhaps I had taken my own version of forget-me-do. The exploitation of environmental resources for science, the preservation of an elite lifestyle for the super-wealthy, the use of the poor or clones for experimentation . . . these ideas permeate the story like so much green gas of the N-lite that facilitates consciousness upload.

I really, really enjoyed this book. It was bleak and beautiful at the same time, and I'm already looking at more Larissa Lai novels to add to my reading list.
Profile Image for Megan.
Author 16 books422 followers
July 24, 2019
Another wild vision from Larissa Lai! Queer feminist biopunk ft. mewling catcoats, battlepikes with meaty sucking tubes, an all-female colony of cloned and cloning sisters who reproduce through parthenogenesis, satellite mainframes named Chang and Eng that function like sun and moon. The level of invention is supreme and never flattens out. I'm not sure the emotional weight was there for me in the end though I loved being immersed in this world.
Profile Image for Emmett.
245 reviews78 followers
June 30, 2022
So this book was interesting and entertaining, but... perhaps a bit lacking? I feel like I got dropped into a world that I didn't understand and never quite got my bearings. I understood the action that was going on, but not necessarily the background? I feel like the author could have spent a good chunk of time setting everything up and explaining the world before sending us readers on our merry way.

To be clear, it wasn't bad... I didn't dislike anything... I just have come out of it scratching my head. The narrators were fantastic and I think they added a lot to my enjoyment of the story, but I'm not sure if I would have understood things better had I eye-read it?

IDK IDK, Tiger Flu u still a mystery boo [n I think Lai likes it that way] 🌶️
Profile Image for Will Dominique.
Author 1 book15 followers
September 2, 2019
I wanted to love this so much more than I really did. As amazing as Lai’s prose and ideas are again, I’m confused, and not in the way where I can really just go with it and fully enjoy the book anyways. I feel like my lack of understanding has inhibited my ability to really appreciate its mastery, and I wish Lai had added some more clarity. I wanted a better grasp of her world, its geopolitics, and how everything came together.
Profile Image for Fraser Simons.
Author 9 books230 followers
August 1, 2022
Wonderful world building, as usual with Lai. Biopunk post-cyberpunk that shows a hierarchy of engineered beings that allows the privileged to co-opt parts that fail of theirs by doubles, but outside of that basic framework more types of beings exist. When a seek to break their oppression things begin to unravel.

The marketing copy is actually far more apt at describing what happens than I ever could be. It’s immersive and incredible. The narrator was perfect. Lai has a gift for using accessible words in creating a foreign ecosystem of references that initiative but indicative of the futuristic, wild setting. Absolutely loved it and recommend.
Profile Image for Anna.
1,631 reviews599 followers
October 10, 2020
I decided to live dangerously by reading a novel about a pandemic during a pandemic. I just could not resist the beautiful cover of 'The Tiger Flu' once my copy arrived from the Lighthouse. It's a strange and hallucinatory tale set in apocalyptic was-once-North America during the year 2145. The story follows two women, both genetically engineered somehow, through vividly imagined chaos and disaster. Although the world-building elements came together in an original and fascinating way, some of them reminded me of other fairly esoteric sci-fi such as The Child Garden and The Book of Joan. The Tiger Flu itself has just one feature that eerily parallels COVID-19: it is much deadlier to men than women. The novel's strangeness is such that it did not recall me to reality, though. If it had, I would have struggled to submerge myself in it. As it was, I got lost in the dangerous collapsing world of Quarantine Rings, pervasive genetic modification, and satellites with decaying orbits.

'The Tiger Flu' has a very visceral narrative, sometimes to the point of being revolting. The main characters are nearly always hungry, wounded, drugged, or otherwise suffering. Nonetheless they retain an admirable determination to establish what the hell is going on and attain their goals. I particularly liked Kirilow, the older and more focused of the two protagonists. More than the characterisation or madcap plot, it is the distinctive details of world-building that made the novel stand out, most of them concerning embodied technologies. Starfish women who can donate then regrow organs. Others who give birth to puppies, who sew living invisibility cloaks out of cats, and who transform people into fish. Lai's writing makes all this weirdness vivid. There is a poetic quality to it, with much use of assonance and quite lyrical descriptions. An example:

Its structure looks like a stack of vertebrae from some prehistoric gargantua, spine diving deep into the ground. The visible part of the spine leans into the wall of the quarry and seems to merge with it, as though the stone and earth of the wall are all that remains of that gargantua's flesh, older by far than the Caspian Tiger brought back from extinction to make tiger-bone wine.

When it comes to visions of the future, I value atmosphere and texture over plotting and characterisation. 'The Tiger Flu' does all four well, but what it does best is evoke a strong sense of place. That makes it escapist, even though Saltwater City isn't a place anyone would want to escape to.
Profile Image for Annie.
2,018 reviews95 followers
September 15, 2018
Larissa Lai has created a very strange world in The Tiger Flu, a lightning fast eruption of a novel. In this future version of our earth, waves of plagues have killed off many men; Caspian tigers have been restored from extinction; famine is widespread; some women have been genetically engineered to parthogenetically reproduce or regrow parts of their bodies; metallic scales and drugs can create extraordinary, half-real hallucinations; climate change has completely changed the landscape, and more. To be honest, I didn’t always understand what was going on because a) it all happened so fast, b) there’s a lot of whatever it was, and c) it’s hard to tell what was happening in reality and what was happening in dreams or visions...

Read the rest of my review at A Bookish Type. I received a free copy of this book from the publisher via Edelweiss, for review consideration.
Profile Image for Cheryl.
149 reviews14 followers
August 24, 2021
This book is a weird, wild, and violent ride. It is a pandemic apocalypse exploring interesting sci-fi concepts and at times feels like horror. Even before the Tiger Flu devastation, society we are familiar with has collapsed because there is no more oil and the climate crisis has gotten worse. Technology that exists is a mixture of biotech and high tech. The writing style is visceral. There are also literal viscera and assorted blood and gore. The descriptions capture beauty as well as brutality. The characters are deeply traumatized and feel and behave accordingly. You are dropped in the middle of this world and there are not a lot of explanations given. There are also hallucinatory fever dreams. Nothing feels solid or trustworthy.
Profile Image for Jessica Haider.
1,791 reviews241 followers
June 14, 2021
Woah! This was a crazy ride. The reader is thrown into a future dystopian world where a Tiger Flu pandemic is working its way thru society. Salt Water City is a male-dominated society that has cast out a community of parthenogenic women. (all of the women in this group are cloned from earlier women in their group). The protagonist Kirilow is a doctor's apprentice in this female community. She is sent on a mission to find a new "starfish", a human who can regenerate body parts. The other protagonist is Kora, a girl who just wants to save her family from the pandemic and winds up in a girls' home. All this and there are living cloaks made out of cats. Yup, this book has a lot of wild imaginings.

This was part dystopian novel, part cyber punk, and all sorts of cautionary tale. With recent events we can see where things might head if politics and misogyny collide. I love bizarre books so this one was right up my alley.

Thank you to the publisher for the audiobook!
Profile Image for Rob.
431 reviews29 followers
December 18, 2018
I'm not entirely sure what happened in this book, but I think I liked it.
Profile Image for Peyton.
185 reviews27 followers
October 12, 2021
The Tiger Flu is an experimental sci-fi novel about young Chinese-Canadian women living in a futuristic dystopia. The story alternates between the third person perspective of Kora, a potato farmer who lives in an apartment in the ruins of Vancouver, and the first person perspective of Kirilow, a surgeon who lives in an isolated compound in the B. C. interior.

Kirilow’s highly stylized narrative voice is quite different from my usual reading fare and ultimately very entertaining and rewarding to read. She is pragmatic and matter of fact, yet she frequently allows her emotions to get the better of her. She is also very religious, and yet she uses a lot of creative religious curse words. Kirilow is such an interesting and complex character. I really enjoyed getting to know her through reading this book.

Despite its disturbing content, The Tiger Flu has a striking sense of humour and optimism. Lai was not afraid to get weird and add details that not every reader would understand, which I admire. Other reviewers have remarked that Lai jumps right into The Tiger Flu without explaining her worldbuilding and the jargon her characters use and that they found this discouraging. I actually really enjoyed the confusion because it provided a bizarre sort of suspense; Chang and Eng are all the more dreadful and mysterious for not being explicitly defined and described. I would recommend The Tiger Flu to anyone who likes experimental and weird fiction.

Side note: Before reading The Tiger Flu, I read the graphic novel 2050: A Post-Apocalyptic Murder Mystery. Though they are drastically different in style, there are some similar plot points and fans of one book would probably enjoy the other. Has anybody else read both?
Profile Image for Becky.
1,220 reviews50 followers
August 9, 2019
I absolutely loved reading The Tiger Flu, a fast paced sci fi novel following two ultimately intertwined narratives set in a near future after the depletion of oil. Kora Ko lives in the First Quarantine Ring, struggling to survive in a world ravaged by the tiger flu, a disease which predominantly affects men. Kirilow Groudsel is a groom in Grist Village, a commune founded by escaped experiments with the ability to reproduce by basically cloning. Her surgical talents are put to use taking care of their last reproducing doubler by transplanting body parts from their last starfish, her lover Peristrophe Halliana. ⁣

Phenomenal worldbuilding and high stakes action combine to make this novel a wild and exciting ride. At the end I felt the various secondary characters’ motivations did not come together as clearly for me as I would have preferred, but I was so invested in the story I almost didn’t mind. The confusing wrapping up of this story ultimately gives way to a breathtaking ending, and I loved the theme of collective storytelling and the way society changes over time. The nearness of the “Time Before” gives the reader a touchpoint in the world we know, while also showing how quickly the world can morph to something much less recognizable. I loved also the way Lai plays with our understanding of gender, creating a whole society of people who are human-adjacent and not women or men. Definitely recommend!
Profile Image for Janine.
244 reviews26 followers
August 15, 2019
The Tiger Flu is a horrifying, imaginative tale that I love with all my heart. Like Salt Fish Girl, it was confusing, frustrating, and rife with disgusting imagery and inventions yet also exciting, fascinating, and able to fill this “Salt Water Flat” dweller with a deep love for the fierce and persistent protagonists.

A novel about the world to come, after climate catastrophe and mass extinction, where illness, genetic experimentation, and technocracy have reshaped “Cascadia”. So much reminded me of Battlestar Galatica (the batterkites especially though they are much grosser) and so much came from things I’ve never seen. Larissa Lai’s imagination is a treasure trove and writes science fiction like no other.

To answer the autograph inside my cover, yes I enjoyed this strange tale. Thank you for writing it Larissa Lai.
Profile Image for Ygraine.
571 reviews
February 20, 2022
fr me this felt half-successful ? like, i think a lot of the base elements are just fundamentally Interesting to me: love a parthenogenetic society, love the idea of archiving consciousness, love the aesthetics of medusa-like scalp implants of downloadable knowledge, love girlies w names like peristrophe halliana. especially especially love the king-lionheart dynamic of the starfish-groom, doubler-groom relationships, it's all abt the Devotion. it's a lot of stuff to keep in the air, and i think lai, fr most of the narrative, manages it with a sort of cinematic sense of movement and build.

my Real problem is the ending; i'm not fundamentally opposed to What Happens, i think it's interesting, but on a structural level it feels like a lot of the conflicts and complexities of the plot get sort of ? shrugged off ? my v Stupid problem is that i do find a lot of futuristic sci-fi & dystopia v Funny, because of like, naming conventions and the ways authors do linguistic gymnastics to make things feel both continuous w modern use & plausibly futuristic. there is just something very funny abt referring to a person as a 'salty' & unfortunately, that Does slightly deflate an otherwise high tension scene ! and even though this book isn't Humourless, it does take itself seriously enough that in those moments i felt i was laughing at it, not with it.
Profile Image for Charlotte.
341 reviews100 followers
July 26, 2019
Wow, what a wild ride 🤯 THE TIGER FLU by Larissa Lai feels like a psychedelic experience. It’s the Gregorian year 2145 and Saltwater City has been ravaged by the tiger flu (that predominantly affects men) and is surrounded by four quarantine rings. One of these rings is home to the exiled Grist community, an all-female group of doublers (individuals that can clone themselves), starfish (individuals that can regrow organs and limbs for other members), and grooms (individuals that attend to the transfer of those organs and limbs to heal others). There is a power struggle going on in Saltwater City and beyond as different approaches are taken to find a cure or leave this ruined place behind and the Grist sisters are being targeted. Larissa Lai’s imagination knows no bounds and features all kind of strange and amazing technology. I don’t think I understood all the details of this novel but just really enjoyed the ride.
Profile Image for Tara.
771 reviews310 followers
August 18, 2019
Everything about The Tiger Flu (nominated for a 2019 Lambda Literary Award) is dangerous—its world, most of its people, and its steadfastness in shaping an unconventional narrative. It’s a horrifying and fascinating vision of the future and what could happen if we embrace the wrong technologies. If you read this book, you won’t forget it anytime soon, and you may even want to go back to page one as soon as you’ve finished, just to experience it all over again.

Full review: https://www.lambdaliterary.org/review...
Profile Image for TimInColorado.
225 reviews23 followers
January 25, 2021
Interesting plot set in a grimy, grotesque future. The visuals and disjointed narrative brought to mind the David Cronenberg movie eXistenZ. Really the sort of thing you have to be in the mood for.

This would probably work better as a movie.

Was read as a recommendation from my LGBTQ book club but I don’t think I ever discovered the queer relationship in the story. There is a loving relationship between two characters who live in an all female community. In this future world, human births happen via cloning not heterosexual reproduction.

That particular relationship, which I guess is the lesbian relationship referred to in other reviews, is never described as sexual. Though maybe I misunderstood some text and didn’t pick up on that aspect of the relationship.

However, with no men or other genders in this society I am not sure all these women were lesbian. Perhaps their heterosexual desires simply could not be manifested or expressed because their society had no men.

This future world written by Lai had nothing appealing about it. There was no glimmer of hope, no hint of a better future in 2145. I guess the best I can say is it left me more appreciative of the present time. Nothing to look forward to in The Tiger Flu Future.
Profile Image for Kaila.
718 reviews13 followers
January 19, 2021
3.5/5 stars

I really don’t know what I just read. This very much felt like a fever dream, but I kinda liked it? Actually, I enjoyed it a lot, especially at the beginning. I never quite felt in the loop about what was happening, but there was something about the feeling of the book that drew me in. I can’t explain what that feeling is, because I don’t know myself, but I did find this book alluring. So much so that I stopped the audiobook and bought the book so I could read it faster, which isn’t something I do very often.

I generally enjoyed this book, it was certainly unique and kept me on my toes. I did constantly feel out of the loop and wanted to feel more grounded in the story, but there was also something in the unexpectedness of it all that was fun. Towards the end I did get very lost with the plot to a point of no return. While this isn’t so bad in a book like this, I also stopped really understanding character motives and relationships. This made it pretty much impossible for me to enjoy the ending parts because even the characters felt distant to me. Nonetheless, for some reason or another I have very fond feelings about this book and the characters. I couldn’t put it down while reading and I can’t stop thinking about it now that I’ve finished it. And that’s good enough for me.
Profile Image for Katy.
605 reviews18 followers
September 6, 2018
I don’t think it’s an exaggeration to say that The Tiger Flu is unlike anything I’ve read before. The depth and range of Larissa Lai’s imagination is truly impressive. There’s a lot going on here: a disease called the "Tiger Flu" that mainly affects men, a group of exiled women called the Grist Sisters who can asexually reproduce, “starfish” women who can regenerate lost limbs and organs, a new technology that separates the mind from the body, major environmental destruction, and that’s not even the half of it.

One of the blurbs on this ARC describes it as a “fever dream,” and I think that’s the most appropriate phrase for it. It’s wild, heady, and utterly un-put-down-able, even if I’m not sure I fully grasped what exactly was going on in some parts. I feel like I’ve been swimming around in a psychedelic nightmare world after reading this. In spite of my confusion, I was gripped by both main characters (Kirilow, a Grist Sister and Kora, an inhabitant of an infected town), as they attempt to navigate their fraught landscapes in order to save their loved ones and discover plenty of horrors along the way. This is the first novel I've read by Lai, and I am certainly intrigued.
Profile Image for xueh wei.
122 reviews
June 29, 2019
I saw a review that said "I'm not sure what happened but I think I liked it." ~ to which I say: SAME.

We are immediately thrown into a strange world where the men are more prone to being infected by the tiger flu, and on the other hand we have an asexually reproducing lesbian commune? (Or something like that, I'm not good at describing it!) It's a very other worldly read, and I've never read anything like it before.

Even though it was confusing at first, once you begin to get to know the world Lai has built, it all begins to make sense. At least for a while. I did enjoy the references to Chinese calendar and festivals throughout the story!

While I'm not too hung up over the book's slightly confusing ending, I do wish that we got to know that world more. I'm still trying to wrap my head around the book, but in the best way. Because this isn't what I'd usually pick up, I'm so glad I did!
Thank you Edelweiss+ for the review copy
Profile Image for kautaru.
30 reviews
March 30, 2022
Don't get me wrong, this is a really well-written book, in many ways. The beginning was slightly confusing, but once you get a hang of things, it actually gets pretty interesting. The world-building was fantastic. A lot of parts were extremely gross, but they were expressed so well. The bullying was especially realistic, and the scene with the fish was horrifying. I enjoyed parts 1-3, but part 4 to the end just got... really weird. Like super weird. (A sentient tree? Really???) And I just lost interest and wanted to finish asap. So my rating is mainly from the point of enjoyment. 3 stars for parts 1-3. If this was not a class reading, I definitely wouldn't have read this voluntarily. But it was cool, I guess. I don't regret reading it.
Profile Image for Seymone.
269 reviews21 followers
September 5, 2020
In beginning, I loved how the story was unfolding. However, at the mid way point it became disjointed. It felt like the author ran out of ideas on how to further develop the story and the characters, so it felt rushed.Speaking of which, the characters lacked development - they were very 2 dimensional.
On another note, the world was unlike one I have ever read before. The author word choice allowed me to fully immerse myself in the world of 2135 and beyond.
Profile Image for Li.
62 reviews
May 9, 2019
Distinct voice with a unique personality, but difficult to follow. Its world-building takes precedent over narrative, leading to a story that takes sweat and hard work to decipher before enjoyment can trickle in.
Profile Image for Carl.
102 reviews
March 11, 2019
A difficult read with multiple discontinuities and difficult threads to master.
Profile Image for Books That Burn.
251 reviews9 followers
November 27, 2020
The Tiger Flu is a cyberpunk fever dream built on family, sisterhood, desperation, and blood. Visceral and evocative, capturing the way dreams taken too far become everyone's nightmare.

There are two MCs, one of which is trying to do the best thing for her family even though they're basically all dying or dead; going through the motions because even the motions still matter, damn it. The other is in a holding pattern, repulsed by thoughts of the past in a way that denies the reader knowledge of it as well. The combination of their alternating perspectives helped to clarify details which are unique to the setting, since there was often one perspective from which the thing was new and therefore we'd get a bit more of an explanation than from the character for whom that details was commonplace and unremarkable.

I care a lot about how books feel to read, if you follow my reviews you probably already know that. I love the way this book uses words which are just enough like modern words for the meaning to be apparent, but far enough away that it feels like you’re being thrown into a space that’s very far away from current reality. I caught at least some of the references, but I'm sure there's even more that I missed, they're woven into the lexicon of the world in a way that feels familiar without needing to be understood as referential. The language felt visceral in a way where it just felt so good to read, even when what was happening was frequently full of gore and sometimes drenched in death. The book expected me to keep up but also made it generally easy to do so without resorting to infodumping. The world is described through the way the characters interact with it, forming itself by coming into focus as they move through it, this style allowed it to establish a fantastic and detailed setting without every quite pausing to explain. I couldn't tell you what most of the places actually looked like, but I was pulled in by how they felt as spaces in which the MCs exist.

I'd be remiss if I failed to mention that if you like Gideon The Ninth by Tamsyn Muir you'll probably love The Tiger Flu. They're very different stories, but they share a lot of the things that make them both engaging and fantastic in how they're told. I don't know if that recommendation works in the other direction, because in Gideon The Ninth you're really not supposed to get what's going on for a large part of the book and that's not a thing in The Tiger Flu.

CW for sexism, sexual assault, animal death (not depicted), surgery, amputation, gore, cannibalism, violence, kidnapping, bullying, homophobia, vomit, plague, major character death, death.
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