Review: The Tiger

The Tiger

The Tiger: A True Story of Vengeance and Survival
By John Vaillant
(Vintage, Paperback, 9780307389046, May 2011, 352pp.)

The Short of It:

A true account of a tiger with a grudge.

The Rest of It:

In December of 1997, Yuri Trush, the head of a tiger preservation team is called to the Boreal Forest to find…and kill a tiger. The tiger in question killed famed hunter Vladimir Markov and the remains left behind, indicate one of the most brutal killings ever documented. As his team hunts the killer, it becomes obvious that the tiger had a motive for killing Markov and that it wasn’t the typical “caught by surprise” killing that he first suspected.

This is a fascinating account of a tiger with a motive. To think that a tiger could remember a slight from days before and then seek out and kill the person who slighted him is both impressive and scary. Cats in general can hold a grudge and apparently big cats are no different. Vaillant, a journalist by trade does a marvelous job of creating suspense where there is little to work with. The pacing is very much like Moby Dick in that the “hunt” is supremely fascinating but the facts that fill the spaces in between? Not so much. This meant that I alternated between wonder and boredom more times than I could count and after 300 pages of it, I grew a bit tired of the pattern.

However, Vaillant does an excellent job of getting into the tiger’s head and the irony of a tiger preservationist hunting a tiger was enough to hold my interest. Although it dragged a bit on paper, the audio version was more exciting and if the movie ever moves out of the development stage, I think it will make a riveting film. Rumor has it that Brad Pitt is attached to the movie so that might entice moviegoers to see it.

Overall, non-fiction lovers will eat this one up and although the slow parts stood out for me, I couldn’t wait to get back to the tiger and that’s saying something.

Source: Borrowed
Disclosure: This post contains Indiebound affiliate links.

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21 thoughts on “Review: The Tiger”

  1. This was one of my favorite reads of last year, but then again, I am a lover of Russian history and lore, and that dang tiger scared the bejesus out of me! I am sorry that you didn’t have complete success with this one, but I am glad that you got to read the bits about the tiger, and they were to your liking. I always love your unflinching honesty, Ti, and even if we have different opinions on books, I do love reading your reviews.

    1. A lot of reviewers compared it to Jaws. I plan to read Jaws this summer (perfect beach read, right?) so it will be interesting to see how similar they are. I did see similarities with Moby Dick but this one was not as big of a tease as MD was.

  2. Yep…I love your reviews, too, and am in awe of your choices…I could not get near this one in my wildest dreams.

    1. LOL!! I’d be lying if I didn’t say that while reading this book, I often thought of my cat or YOURS. A cat, is a cat, is a cat. LOL.

  3. A lot has been written about this one. I haven’t read it but I am intrigued to — it sounds interesting to me. And if Brad Pitt wanted to be in the movie — then all the better! thx for the review.

    1. I’m not sure if Brad planned to be in it, but he bought the rights to it and Imdb shows a production date of 2014. If he’s in it, let’s hope he isn’t Markov (the guy who is killed by the tiger). LOL.

  4. I love a good nonfiction story…and a tiger with revenge on its agenda…yes, thank-you! Except…Ti, I don’t know if I want to read it if the hunter kills the tiger 😦 I know you can’t tell me bc that would spoil it 😦 What to do…what to do…;)

  5. Having lived with cats all of my life, I totally believe that this one has a vendetta and remembers. I TOTALLY get that. Too bad it drags some, but I think I might read it anyway.

  6. The whole idea of a cat holding a grudge and killing you days later scares the poo out of me!

    1. Someone told me Jaws the book is quite a bit different than the movie so I’ve been wanting to read it ever since. I am really looking forward to it even though it’s a chunkster!

  7. Wow, that’s crazy! That must be frustrating, though, wanting to get to the suspense part and having to get through the more boring parts, lol.

  8. Really makes you rethink your disbelief in all of those movies where the animal was the hunter and not the hunted, doesn’t it?! Sounds like this would have made a better essay than full book, though.

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