Oh my god, we have a bad one tonight, folks.  Something like this only comes around every once in a blue moon.  I can’t even describe how this book makes me feel.  When I read it, a actually laughed a couple of times.  And trust me, it’s not because it was enjoyable in any kind of way.  I know I didn’t get an ounce of pleasure from this book.  When I laughed, it was that “I give up on humanity” kind of laugh.  Seriously, this kind of shit gets worse and worse the longer it goes on.  I should just stop being vague and just get to the point.  Tiger’s Curse is the worst book I’ve ever read.

Now, I’m not making any claims that it is, objectively, the worst book ever written or anything like that.  However, I’m not exaggerating when I say what I just said.  This book just really infuriates me purely due to its existence and that’s before we get to the actual book itself.  I don’t even know where to start with this book.  Probably the best place to start is the premise of this book.

The book is about an eighteen year old Mary Sue named Kelsey Hayes who gets a temp job working at this circus run by an offensive Italian stereotype where she meets a tiger named Dhiren(or Ren for short).  However, Kelsey gets involved with a businessman who invites her to India in order to care for Ren.  However, when she gets to India, she soon discovers that Ren is actually an Indian prince who had been cursed for over three hundred years to only be in human form for twenty-four minutes of every day.  It’s then revealed that Kelsey is the chosen one who will help Ren and his brother, Kishan, break the curse and turn them both back to normal.

Yeah, it’s one of THOSE stories.  The type of story that involves around a normal girl who turns out to be speshul and all of the characters revolve around her and shill her like there’s no tomorrow.  In case anyone hasn’t figured it out from the summary above, this is a Twilight rip-off.  This is bad on its own but it’s made worse by the fact that it is really hard to describe what Tiger’s Curse is.  It’s “Twilight with…Indian prince turned into a tiger” or some shit.  At least something like Hush, Hush can easily be described as “Twilight with fallen angels” for another example of these Twilight rip-offs.

You know, I thought we were done with these rip-offs.  It’s not like they are ever going to reach the popularity of Twilight.  They only exist in order to cash in on the current trend.  At least with the current dystopian YA craze, they at least differentiate themselves from The Hunger Games a little bit, probably because it would be difficult to do any kind of variation of The Hunger games plot without it being too blatant of a rip-off.

Sorry if I went on that tangent went on a little longer than it should you really need to know that bit of context in order to understand why I feel the way I do about Tiger’s Curse.  I will say that Tiger’s Curse does differentiate from Twilight a tad.  However, it is not in any of the good ways.  I think I already mentioned that the book takes place in India.  Now, India has the potential to be an interest setting for a story.  However, this is not the story that works with the setting all that well.

This brings us to the the subject of cultural appropriation. You can find out what this is by going a quick search on Wikipedia and Google but it short, it’s basically when one culture adopts specific elements of another culture.  Cultural appropriation is not inherently bad but you can tell when the person that adopts these foreign cultural elements without any real knowledge of the context of these elements.  

I think I can safely say that Tiger’s Curse suffers from a major case of this.  For example, there is one part of the story where Kappas are involved.  Any one who had done any kind of research on Kappas knows that they are part of Japanese folklore, not Indian folklore.  This just strikes me as research failure as the writer of this book shouldn’t have included Kappas into the story when it is easy to do a quick internet search about this and conclude that they are not appropriate to the story that Houck is trying to tell.

There is also the fact that the protagonist is a white girl, which isn’t so bad on its own.  The problem is that it comes across as unintentionally racist as it implies that an Indian curse can only be broken by a white person, which brings some serious unfortunate implications along with it.  It would have made more sense if an Indian girl was the chosen one but I forgot, like the Twilight and its ilk, the main character is suppose to be a self-insert for the author and presumably, other female readers.

Now, you’re probably wondering where this book came from.  That is more than understandable and I will say that the origins of the book are actually quite interesting.  The book was originally self-published on Amazon by Colleen Houck in 2009.  It managed to do really well through word of mouth and this surprise success caught the attention of a publisher, who bought the rights to put the books in print.  The movie rights for the book were also sold, with the movie estimated to come out in 2015, as of this writing.  Yes, the book was really successful enough from self-publishing that there is a film adaptation in production.

Believe me, the self-publishing origins of this book really shows.  Houck’s writing style comes off as being a more polished version of a fanfiction.  Hell, I’ve read fanfiction that had better writing than this book.  There are a lot of cases of pointless exposition that were only included to increase the word count as well as to show that Houck did her research but for all I know, she probably every single bit of information about India wrong.  That actually wouldn’t surprise me at all.  There are also more than a few times where Kelsey would narrate what specific foods she is eating or what types of clothing she is packing, which is redundant, pointless, and worst of all, doesn’t do anything to develop the characters or move the plot forward.  Either Houck didn’t hire an editor or the editor she hired really sucks at her job.

Don’t even get me started on the Indiana Jones-inspired tomb raiding sections of this book.  I thought they were tedious, boring, and tensionless which was not helped by the fact that being the type of story that it was, there was no way either Kelsey or Ren were going to be in any danger.  It shows how forgettable these parts of the book are by the fact that I don’t even remember what the name of the macguffin that they were trying to find was and I don’t really care.

The pacing of the book is abysmal as there were sections that were severely rushed and others that went much longer than they should have.  The first fifty or so pages feel like Houck is trying to rush through the circus stuff as fast as she can so that she can get to India faster.  I know that books shouldn’t drag but that was just god-awful pacing.  The romantic scenes between Kelsey and Ren, on the other hand, feel like they go on for even longer than they already do.

I’ve been talking so much about pretty much everything else that I haven’t even talked about the characters.  The main lead, Kelsey, has to be one of the most infuriating female protagonists in recent memory.  Not only is she really annoying but she doesn’t talk like any eighteen year old I’ve ever met.  She either sounds like a middle aged woman or an immature twelve year old girl.  Kelsey is a blatant Mary Sue as she is a normal girl who just so happens to be the chosen one to break an Indian curse who has an Indian prince and his brother fawning over her like she is the most amazing woman in the world.  Yep, we are firmly in Twilight rip-off territory.

Of course, we now have to talk about the love interest, Ren.  He is probably one of the most dull, boring love interests in the history of fiction.  For most of the book, he constantly shills Kelsey for basically existing even though she does nothing to deserve it.  He is also completely perfect in every way, which does not make for an interesting character.  Ren just doesn’t feel like a character that could actually exist on this earth.  Then, there is his brother, Kishan, whose only purpose in the story is to be a romantic rival for Ren to fight over Kelsey.  He basically acts like Edward while Ren is the Jacob of the book, even though it should probably be the other way around.  There is also Ren’s caretaker but he is not worth mentioning as his only purpose in the story is to provide exposition and pointless info-dumps.

That’s pretty much it for characters.  There are technically other characters but they are basically just a means to an end.  There is the aforementioned offensive Italian stereotyped ringmaster who speaks like a caricature of Mario.  The other characters involved in the circus part of the story have no purpose and aren’t worth mentioning.  A bit later on in the book, there is a sage-type character named Phet, who is described as missing several teeth, which does not speak well for Houck and her view of Indian culture.  There is also the appearance of Durga, who is in there for a few parts of the book to provide exposition and shill Kelsey.

That’s another thing, Houck’s view of Indian culture is over-idealized.  Remember that Disney movie, Pocahontas, that portrayed Native Americans as being noble savages?  That movie’s view of Native Americans is progressive compared to how Indians are viewed in Tiger’s Curse.  The culture is portrayed as being more wonderful and interesting than the “boring” American lifestyle.  While Indian culture is quite interesting, portraying it in such as romanticized way is just as bad as if it was negatively portrayed.  It doesn’t ring true and it feels way too fictional to be relatable in any way.

Then, there is the way the book ends.  Actually, that is a misnomer as the book doesn’t end so much as it just stops after a limp and practically non-existent climax.  Like other YA paranormal romance novels, Tiger’s Curse is actually the first in a series called the Tiger Saga.  I can definitely say that I’ve no plans on reading those other books.

You would probably think that everyone who has read this book would feel the same way that I do.  However, that is not true as the book is very well liked by the Goodreads community and was also very well received by consumers on Amazon.  This kind of confuses me.  Maybe they saw something in Tiger’s Curse that I didn’t.  I don’t even know what to think of this.  It really frustrates me that this piece of wish-fulfilment garbage was given success and praise while other, better YA books feel under the radar.  

My conclusion with Tiger’s Curse is that it is possibly the worst book I have ever read.  It’s certainly my least favorite now.  The writing is amateurish at best, the characters are either annoying or have no real character to speak of, the plot is poorly paced, and the overly romanticized views of Indian culture doesn’t ring true.  Hell, the book reads so much like a bad fanfic that the Fanfic Critic might as well review this because I certainly don’t know how I got into the business of bashing bad YA novels.  I’m getting out of here before this book angers me any further.

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