AUDIOBOOK: The Tiger Flu by Larissa Lai

The Official Description: In this visionary novel by Larissa Lai – her first in sixteen years–a community of pathonogenic women, sent into exile by the male-dominated Salt Water City, goes to war against disease, technology, and powerful men that threaten them with extinction.

Kirilow is a doctor apprentice whose lover Peristrophe is a “starfish,” a woman who can regenerate her own limbs and organs, which she uses to help her clone sisters whose organs are failing. When a denizen from Salt Water City suffering from a mysterious flu comes into their midst, Peristrophe becomes infected and dies, prompting Kirilow to travel to Salt Water City, where the flu is now a pandemic, to find a new starfish who will help save her sisters. There, Kirilow meets Kora, a girl-woman desperate to save her family from the epidemic. Kora has everything Kirilow is looking for, except the will to abandon her own family. But before Kirilow can convince her, both are kidnapped by a group of powerful men to serve as test subjects for a new technology that can cure the mind of the body.

Bold, beautiful, and wildly imaginative, ‘THE TIGER FLU’ is at once a female hero’s saga, a cyberpunk thriller, and a convention-breaking cautionary tale – a striking metaphor for our complicated times. Perhaps, for me this was made even more visceral by the fact that we are dealing with the Covid pandemic as I listened! that was eerie!

The narrators of Audiobook: Lisa Truong and Grace Lynn Kung

Just the facts: Audiobook, dystopian, future, pandemic

My thoughts bit: This story is remarkable! I have to say that I would put it in the same class as books like “The Clockwork Orange” by Anthony Burgess and “Trainspotting” by Irvine Welsh.

It took me a while to get into the language of the novel. It’s different… old songs and expressions are woven into the dialogue. It anchors the novel in “our” world even as it distinguishes the time of the novel as a future that is very different.

One of the things that is very different about this story is that it is populated almost entirely by female characters. The men in this future are likely to be ill … women are not. In fact, women have become something entirely different. There are “starfish” whose organs are harvested in a sensuous and loving way by their “groom” to keep the “clone sisters” alive. It might sound a bit gory and frightening but there’s something very tender about the way it’s written.  When their starfish dies… Kirilow sets off to find a new one.

This sends Kirilow and Kora into the world of men, a world drowning under the weight of a pandemic but this is where they must go.

This is a wonderful and yet slightly terrifying view of the future. The language, the different and unusual names of things left me unsettled – and part of me enjoyed that because I felt as though I had been immersed in the world.

The narrators did a wonderful job of telling this story. In particular, I loved the way the song-lines were sung… and the language became very comfortable for me after a few chapters. I appreciated that there were two narrators as it helped me to distinguish between the two main adventurers!

Links: Goodreads // The Author // The Publisher

I received an ARC of The Tiger Flu by Larissa Lai from ECW Press in exchange for an unbiased review.

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