I stuck with The Tiger’s Daughter for either a short time or a long time, depending on how you look at it. On one hand, I only made it 20% through the book according to my Kindle. On the other hand, I spent over a month getting to that 20% according to Goodreads. If a book is that much of a slog, and I have a figurative stack of ARCs sitting on my bedside table I am excited about, why grit my teeth and push through?
It’s a bold strategy to structure at least the first fifth of your book as an As You Know, Bob. I say at least a fifth because Rivera was still doing it at the point in the book at which I bailed. The book (apparently) focuses on two women, and in particular their relationship. Each is the daughter of a powerful woman in Mongolian and Chinese analogs, respectively. The portion I read is entirely structured as one of the women telling the other women about their childhood together by letter.
Does it pay off for her? No. The first fifth of the book contains exactly one action sequence (involving a tiger). It is a bit much considering out young the girls are at that point, but I generally pretty happy to overlook that sort of thing. The rest is presumably intended as setup of their characters, their relationship, the setting, the underlying conflicts, and so forth. I’m not even sure that stuff in uninteresting, but the basic structural choice of presenting it as an As You Know, Bob absolutely deflates the setup. A good story told poorly isn’t a good story at all.
The only good news is that now I really want to finally open Elizabeth Bear’s Range of Ghosts to wash the bad taste out of my mouth. Based on Karen Memory, Range of Ghosts can’t possibly be as bad as The Tiger’s Daughter. Which maybe gets good at some point! But life is too short to stick through to the end for every single book.
Disclosure: I received an advance copy of The Tiger’s Daughter for review.