Marlena Frank's Reviews > The Tiger: A True Story of Vengeance and Survival

The Tiger by John Vaillant
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really liked it

Although this novel was a sprawling mass at times, the scenes and political environment that it paints stick with you. The tiger is revered, feared, compartmentalized, and idealized. There is a main story, but mixed throughout are backgrounds for the various people whose lives were affected, as well as fascinating tales of the various tigers that our main forest ranger has encountered.

I learned a lot about Russian history and its economy in this book, as well as all the temperamental relations that have existed in the past with her neighbors. The book is also peppered with adventurous tiger stories (besides the primary tale), even from a few survivors, and you learn how intelligent, territorial, and vengeful these animals are. These sections were by far my favorite parts of the book, and made for some entertaining discussions around the dinner table.

On the down side, the structure made my head spin at times. You went from discussing a death scene, to describing a man's background from childhood, to discussing what war he fought in, and how that war came about to begin with. It was informative, but hard to follow. At times it felt like it could have used a strict editor, or a reshuffling of events. Had I been reading this and not listening to it as an audiobook, I don't know if I would have been able to get through it despite my love of nature adventure stories. On top of that the epilogue is a plea to save the tigers' land and preserve their home, which I already got from the book itself. Although I understand the need to include this, it still felt heavy and unnecessary. Much of the book already hits upon this problem.

As frustrating as the structure was at times, listening to it in audiobook format made the Russian names, terms, and locales easier to understand and I didn't feel daunted by the language as much as I think I would have been had I read this in paper/ebook format.

Overall a fascinating book about a beautiful but dangerous predator.

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Reading Progress

September 19, 2013 – Started Reading
September 19, 2013 – Shelved
September 26, 2013 – Finished Reading

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