ARC Review: THE TIME TRAVELLER AND THE TIGER by Tania Unsworth (Middle Grade Monday)

I received an eARC from the publisher through NetGalley in exchange for an honest review. It has not affected my opinions.

Genre: Historical
Age Range: MG
Star Rating: 2.5 stars
Series: standalone

Synopsis:

Book cover for THE TIME TRAVELLER AND THE TIGER: title below a roaring tiger

Face to face with the mightiest and most majestic predator in the jungle, Elsie is in awe of the tiger’s beauty. She’s on a mission to have the adventure of a lifetime, save the tiger and change the future. 

Elsie is not looking forward to the long summer holiday with her creaky, old Uncle John. But then the unimaginable happens as Time unravels and Elsie tumbles back to 1940s India to meet her Uncle John as a young boy on a tiger hunt. Can Elsie stop him from doing what he’s already told her is a wrong he can never right?

Synopsis taken from Goodreads. Add to your shelves here.


Review:

THE TIME TRAVELLER AND THE TIGER is one of those books that didn’t really register with me as I read it. I’ve been sat here for about half an hour trying to work out something, anything to say. It’s not that it’s a “bad book”, but that it wasn’t particularly memorable. I didn’t form any emotional reactions to the book, which is what I rely on when writing reviews.

The jungle felt very real, though. Hot and stuffy in the day, but cold at night. Bursting with plants and animals, it felt both dangerous and magical all at once – and all very different from the England that Elsie was used to.

Child-John is one of those snooty little boys you see in a lot of old classics – the one who says girls can’t do anything and then is wonderfully shown up and sees the error of his ways. What I liked about his character was the dialect he used. It’s just so spot on for the era, helping build the sense of time and place – not to mention highlight the contrast between his world and Elsie’s.

There is a strong pro-conservation theme in this book – Elsie has found herself back in time with the mission to stop her great-uncle killing a tiger, which he regrets 70+ years later. Add in the secondary character Mandeep’s attempts to stop the British hunters stalking in the forest, and the hunt Elsie, Mandeep, and John get caught up in, and the message is very clear throughout.

The POV of the tiger was a little odd to get used to at first, but it was probably the most powerful tool shaping the message. It didn’t quite humanise the tiger, and it was interesting to see how Tania wrote a “character” without the same level of conscious thought and awareness as her human characters. However, by showing its world and life, she made me want it to survive.

One thing that stood out to me was how calmly Elsie took the fact that she’d slipped back in time. She just took it in her stride, and when going home was raised as a potential issue, she didn’t seem that worried. It was a bit odd, and a little unrealistic, that she wasn’t freaking out – but appeared to just happily go along with it all.

I think, perhaps, this book would have appealed to me more had I been the target audience.

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