The Tiger by John Vaillant

A hesitant recommendation from a friend because of my regular diet of fiction, this Vancouver born non fiction writer was a pleasant surprise.  The Tiger tells the true (well, obviously) story of the hunt for a giant Siberian tiger that is picking off the villagers vendetta style. Yuri Trush, the lead hunter, is determined to kill it before it strikes again and so begins the showdown.

The writing is poetic, and quite frankly, beautifully constructed. His use of the colon blew me away; yes, when it comes to punctuation, I am that sad.

I found myself incredibly engaged in this story, despite knowing the tiger’s outcome. Side note: perhaps putting the giveaway pictures at the end would be a better idea! Set in Russia’s far East, the book is littered with fascinating facts about both the geography and the political backdrop – references to Stalin’s reign of terror and the financial fallout of Perestroika were particularly illuminating. Put it this way, now I know how you make enough money to but a football team outright!

I was left with a strong sense of the people and their intimate relationship to the land and its hardships. You can certainly tell that Vaillant writes for the National Geographic.

Left as a mystery, this novel leaves you wondering about the moral ties that bind us to the animals with whom we share the planet.

Rating: 4.1/5

Why? Well, the ending was unsurprising and the writing at times could be described as overly descriptive when dealing with the setting.



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