Review of Black Tiger

Posted: December 28, 2016 in Book Review, Review

31690889Black Tiger is yet another nearish-future dystopian adventure involving a teen protagonist. While groans may be heard from large sections of the public for yet another one of these novels, Black Tiger has qualities that set itself apart from most lesser-known teen dystopian stories…and it does it in such a way that rivals and surpasses some of its more well-known brethren (a la The Hunger Games or Divergent).
The main protagonist, Ember, will undoubtedly draw comparisons to one particular “girl on fire,” but the differences between the two characters become pretty apparent from the very beginning. Ember is a farmer, a bit of a peacekeeper, and has a major temper that goes far beyond anything Katniss Everdeen hoped to ever do. That said, there are still similarities; a love triangle and the main character shifting from apolitical to major figurehead being just two of them…but the similarities are never enough to cause a reader to pause and go “this seems like it was taken from another, more popular, dystopian novel.”
And that really is Black Tiger in a nutshell: similar but different. The differences are refreshing and honestly quite unique. The mega-city in Black Tiger is located in Kentucky? Really? Kentucky? Yes, indeed, and it is awesome the book takes a risk like that. One other unique thing that really struck me as unique was the punishment of human torches, people pulled upside down on a pole and burnt to a crisp. Yes, it’s as terrible as it sounds, it’s basically the book’s version of being crucified, epitomized most by the fact the government places all the human torches in the Rebel’s Circle surrounding the capitol, a reminder of what any defiance to the government will get you.
Speaking of crucifixion, God is talked about in this book. There is a slow build to it, as Ember is not a Christian, in fact there is only one other character who talks about God. If you don’t like that sort of thing, you need to realize it’s in there, but it shouldn’t take away from your enjoyment of the story or the quality of writing, it all works pretty seamlessly. I don’t think it was implemented perfectly, but writing about God in fiction is really hard to do, and the author did a very good job at making feel mostly natural.
If I’m being perfectly honest, YA dystopian is not my favorite genre. There is a lot of familiar ground that is tread in Black Tiger, but it is never tired, and I never once was bored. I kept turning pages wanting to find out what happened next. I will admit the whole thing with the different blood-types didn’t work for me. I don’t want to spoil anything, so I’ll just say that I hope that the idea is expanded upon in the next book. The characters (especially Rain) are written very well, so none of them feel like clichés or just another version of a more familiar dystopian character. There is riveting action and intrigue, but this book contains some wonderful philosophical bits. You really should give this book a fair shake as it dares to ask the big questions without ever once feeling like you are reading just another YA Dystopian novel.

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