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BookBrowse Reviews The Night Tiger by Yangsze Choo

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The Night Tiger

A Novel

by Yangsze Choo

The Night Tiger by Yangsze Choo X
The Night Tiger by Yangsze Choo
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    Readers' Opinion:

  • First Published:
    Feb 2019, 384 pages
    Paperback:
    Jan 2020, 400 pages

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The Night Tiger takes readers on a magical adventure through 1930s Malaysia, where two young protagonists seek the truth about a mythical creature.

Out of 22 First Impression reviews, 12 readers gave The Night Tiger 5 stars, with an additional eight awarding it 4 stars, for a combined average rating of 4.5 out of 5 stars.

What it's about:
The Night Tiger follows parallel adventures for 49 days in 1930s Malaya (Gail B). The girl Ji Lin and the houseboy Ren are united by the mythology surrounding their names - two of the five Confucian virtues. Their search for the other three people/virtues is complicated by Ji Lin's secret life as a paid partner at a dance hall, and her desire to move beyond the limits of a girl's life in a traditional family, and Ren's mission to locate and reunite an amputated finger with its recently deceased owner (Patricia S).

Many First Impression readers were enthusiastic about the novel's setting and exploration of culture:
I love a novel that pulls me into an unfamiliar time period, geographical area and/or culture. This one did all of that! Malaya in the 1930s with its upstairs-downstairs mix of British colonists and native Chinese was new to me. The British colonial culture is interwoven with the Chinese, which includes folklore, food, superstitions, Confucianism and family values (Kathryn F). A tale of love, loyalty, food and perhaps even weretigers gives insight into Malay/Chinese traditions and folk legends (Gail B). What intrigued me especially was the detailed information on the Chinese number superstitions, which relate to good or bad luck, and how names can be influenced by these beliefs (Leslie F). I did not expect to be so entranced by this book. The variety of characters and the exotic setting, 1930s Malaya, was a positive aspect for me. Books that draw me into an unknown time and place are high on my list (Leia C). I love learning about different cultures, and this is one of those books where you don't even realize how much you're learning as the narrative progresses (Shaun D).

The supernatural/magical aspects of the novel were popular, even among those who would not normally seek out books with these elements:
It surprised me just how much I liked it, because I don't typically read supernatural books. But this was so well-written, with such engaging characters and interesting twists, that I couldn't help but enjoy it (Alissa C). The otherworldly aspects are a joy to read (Judith S). I initially requested The Night Tiger because it sounded different from my regular reading. It was! You get romance, magical elements, threatening situations, mystery and paranormal, all blended together expertly (Carole P). Very well written and engaging. I usually struggle with storylines with ghosts and other metaphysical concepts, but with this book I just let myself go and enjoyed it (Valerie C).

While the novel was very well-received, some readers had a few critiques:
I struggled through this story. I finished it, but it took me awhile. I found it to be very slow-paced (Veronica E). I was disappointed by the way the author chose to tie everything together at the end of the book (Ilene M). There were parts of this story that I found compelling and there were parts that I struggled to get through. I just found the narrative to be uneven. The "Nancy Drew Mystery" aspects felt a bit contrived, and did not hold my interest at all (Kenan R).

But most readers appreciated the well-written, vivid characters, particularly the two main characters:
The protagonists are beautifully developed. I was very fond of the author's rendering of the young boy, Ren (Mary Anne R). I really found myself loving the main characters, Ji Lin and Ren, and liked how the author would alternate their chapters (Alissa C). The writing is beautiful, the story line multi-layered, and the main characters are richly developed (Carole P). The young orphaned Malay houseboy stole my heart immediately, and I was impressed with the writer's ability to draw the disparate characters together by the end of the book (Leia C).

This review was originally published in The BookBrowse Review in February 2019, and has been updated for the February 2020 edition. Click here to go to this issue.

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Beyond the Book:
  The Five Confucian Virtues

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