Ahhhhhhhh! You ever read a book and think, “Meh, that was nice.” But then after you close it, it just builds on you. There was something between the lines that planted a seed in you and it grew and grew and grew. That’s what happened to me with Nick Harkaway’s TIGERMAN. I was ready to give it a four-star rating, walk away, and call it good. Nope.
First, Harkaway knows me. He’s one of my people. As soon as I saw him mention “gold farming”…I knew. In-game chat channels, leet speak, comic culture: all my people’s language. So that was nice. As Harkaway writes, “it had a digital flavor, merry and modern.”
Second, there’s the island as a character. Right away we witness a pelican swallowing a pigeon. Amusing. But then it dawned on me later, “Hey! That was symbolic, wasn’t it?” On one hand, we see an island lose its culture and people, being assimilated into the larger world social scheme. On the other hand, we find those who embrace the simplicity and roots of who they are. And, as the author points out, those Leaving were in a majority, while “staying had not been dignified with a capital letter.”
Finally, there’s the relationship between man and boy. That’s the part eating me alive. In this book we witness what a man will become—how he changes—in the face of parental responsibility. And, as a result of that willingness to change, how the child molds, reflects, and responds to that change. “Endearing” would be a good starting word to describe the emotion while witnessing this change. There’s plenty more.
This book has everything else: action, romance, adventure. But, at the risk of sounding like a movie announcer, let me stick to those first three points above. The context of TIGERMAN goes way beyond the story and penetrates the heart. That, to me, is full of what I want in a story. Something that makes me think outside the pages and turns me into a more retrospective person because of it.
My final thoughts reflect those of the boy: “”Tigerman,” the boy said fervently. “Full of win.””
Thanks to Knopf for providing this book electronically for me to review. Do you folks have a Tigerman outfit I can review, too? I want one.