Confession time: I don’t finish books I don’t like. I find it a waste of my time, and if I don’t care to finish the book, I don’t care to find out what happens at the end. *
The sad truth is, I didn’t finish White Tiger.
It hooked me, quite well in fact. I read 250 pages the first night. The pacing was good, the characters interesting. We have a headstrong English teacher, Emma, quitting her kindergarten teacher job in Hong Kong and immediately getting picked up as a live-in nanny for one of the girls she tutors. The single dad is smokin’ hot, the girl is delightful, and the pay is amazing. The conflict comes when she realizes he’s a god and he can’t return to his palace because he has to protect his daughter from demons who would kidnap her to control him, but staying away from his source of power is making him weaker and weaker. (There’s a romance bit too, of course.)
Emma befriends the chauffeur/bodyguard, who is part information-dispenser and part tool to keep the character (and therefore the reader) in the dark. The character is a good one, don’t get me wrong, but he and Emma begin pulling practical jokes on each other that just seem to come out of nowhere. He doesn’t seem particularly playful, and every time they played a prank on each other, it pulled me out of the story because I started thinking, “Why did that happen?”
But the biggest flaw of this book was the lack of editing. It was far too long and needed tightening. Some dialogue was just unnecessary, some characters repeating verbatim sentences they’d said a paragraph earlier.
I can also see non-martial arts aficionados getting lost in the battle scenes, because Emma begins training with the god and Chan uses words that martial arts fans would know, but I’m afraid others would not. And even though she went into detail about the training, she kept using only the term “martial arts” and never saying what system they were studying. (The fact that this was a Chinese god teaching her “katas” which are Japanese forms bugged the crap out of me. At least she didn’t call him “sensei” which is also Japanese.)
In short, White Tiger had a good hook, a good premise, but suffered from bloat, and I just got bored with the repetition. If an editor had cut 100 pages, it probably would have held my interest.
* OK, there is one mystery I did wonder about. The name of the book is White Tiger, and we meet a god who is the white tiger, but as far as I read, his role was tiny. I wondered where Chan was going to put him that would justify naming the whole book after him…