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5.0 out of 5 stars Heroic effort
THE rough ex-British island colony of Mancreu is a magnet for drug-smuggling scum, tax-dodgers, spies and wayward military operations. Dumped onto it to serve out his days is Army Sergeant Lester Ferris, who seems to have nowhere else to go having done all there is to do war-wise.

Life on Mancreu isn’t all that pleasant: toxic gasses spewed out by God...
Published 1 month ago by J. Wise

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1 of 2 people found the following review helpful
3.0 out of 5 stars A bit of a disappointment
A decent enough read and an interesting basic idea, but he didn't develop the concept of "the fleet" nearly enough and instead concentrated on the daily goings on of the island. A bit disappointing, you keep expecting something wider to happen but it never does.
Absolutely not in the same league as Angelmaker, nothing like the ideas and excitement of that...
Published 2 months ago by Graham Godfrey


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5.0 out of 5 stars Heroic effort, 5 Aug 2014
By 
This review is from: Tigerman (Hardcover)
THE rough ex-British island colony of Mancreu is a magnet for drug-smuggling scum, tax-dodgers, spies and wayward military operations. Dumped onto it to serve out his days is Army Sergeant Lester Ferris, who seems to have nowhere else to go having done all there is to do war-wise.

Life on Mancreu isn’t all that pleasant: toxic gasses spewed out by God knows what human endeavour is emptying the place. It’s marked for eradication, which doesn’t bode well for future prospects. Ferris makes a few mates. One in particular is a kid with a fixation on superheroes. As murder and misery mounts the place needs a saviour. Enter Tigerman and you’ve got a super yarn in your hands.

Nick Harkaway is a fine Sci-Fi writer but this book is in a wholly different section of the library. It’s as if he’s decided to take a busman’s holiday and have a spot of fun abroad, flexing his genre-bending muscles. There’s so much here: a bit of spy novel, a lot of classic thriller, a fat dollop of comic mayhem, plenty of literary depth, a chunk of eco-commentary and a bloody good read to boot.

You can’t ask for much more in a book.
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3 of 4 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars What immortal hand or eye..., 7 Jun 2014
By 
D. Harris (Oxford, UK) - See all my reviews
(VINE VOICE)    (TOP 500 REVIEWER)   
This review is from: Tigerman (Hardcover)
Lester Ferris (Sergeant) is the last vestige of British officialdom on the former island colony of Mancreu, which lies in the ocean somewhere east of Aden and is to be demolished shortly to save the world from a potential "extinction level event" involving toxic waste and mutant bacteria. In the meantime, the place is a legal No-Man's-Land, and taking advantage of this, governments, security services and various shades of crook have rolled up in ships ("the Fleet") to do whatever they wish, outside the reach of the law. The Fleet is ignored, though everyone knows it's there: "Round and around and around it went, and he chose not to look too closely because if he did he must, inevitably, see things which were invisible."

Against this background, the book follows the relationship between Lester and the Boy. Having seen what happens to refugees displaced from their homes, Lester wishes to adopt the Boy and give him a better life. But first he needs to be sure that the Boy has no-one else. Of course he can't ask outright, for fear of the damage to their friendship, so Lester starts investigating.

At around the same time, a group of men come through the door of a bar one day with guns and kill another man, changing Mancreu for ever. It seems that as the island enters its last days, law and decency is breaking down ("Everyone on the island walked within bounds out of sheer habit, respected property and persons and decency because they knew those things were important. But there was no compulsion any more...") and the values of the Fleet are coming ashore. Will Lester, as the sole police presence, be able to stop the disorder, find out the truth about the Boy and solve the murder?

This is a funny, touching and endearing novel with many twists. It has harsh things to say about the state of the world, from "humanitarian" interventions that are "contradictory and insincere" to the conflict in Afghanistan, which Lester was part of. There were, Lester notes, "soldiers here whose great-grandfathers had fought the Pashtuns in 1918, and the fathers of these men had fought them before that in 1879, and their fathers in 1840. The Brits shared with the locals a tacit understanding that nothing done here would make any difference..." Lester may, you'd think, see his time on Mancreu in the same way, but still, like a Graham Green character, he does his best and seeks some kind of tarnished redemption even in the face of those who can only tear down: "No one in the wider world seemed to do anything constructive, no one built or mended. It was lawyers, guns and tax-avoidance out there." So he acts, donning a superhero outfit ("Tigerman!") to tackle crooks - unarmed, of course, because superheroes don't use guns.

Despite the comic book colour and imagery ("We are made from awesome!" shouts the Boy at one point) Harkaway seems to be a taking a much darker view here than in his last book, Angelmaker, where he notes that the essentials of life are "a girl, a gun and a good lawyer". That book was much more of a gleeful spree than is this. Lester is too absorbed in events on Mancreu and in puzzling over his past to do much about finding himself a girl; there is no law on Mancreu to begin with; but there are lots of guns, and once those habits of decency and respect begin to break down, they start being used.

In all, it is a a gripping, suspense-filled novel with a shocking twist which will make you go back and look at the story in a new light. My only reservation is that, having done that, I'm not quite convinced by the plot. We're in a world of mirrors here, of wheels-within-wheels, or treachery and bluff, and it's understandable that some things are unexplained, but still, I found myself asking whether - even accepting all that - the story actually worked.

But still, it's great read, and fun getting to the point where you can ask yourself those questions.

Long live Mancreu: Kswah swah!
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7 of 10 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Comic book style action adventure - wonderful, 22 May 2014
By 
I Readalot (UK) - See all my reviews
(VINE VOICE)    (TOP 1000 REVIEWER)   
This review is from: Tigerman (Hardcover)
I discovered Nick Harkaway back in 2008 when he published his debut `The Gone-Away World' which left me wanting to read more by this author and wondering what he would come up with next. I had to wait 4 years until `Angelmaker' appeared, completely different but just as compelling and even more entertaining. Imagine my excitement when I received a proof copy of `Tigerman', although I must admit I did feel an element of trepidation when I started to read, would it live up to my expectations - which by that time were high. The simple answer is yes, completely different to the other 2 novels but once again a good story well told and with the geekiness and humour that I have come to expect from his Harkaway.

`Tigerman' is set on the imaginary island of Mancreu, once a paradise it is now dying due to a specific kind of toxic pollution. It had been a British Colony but 3 years before the story begins was handed over to NATO & Allied Protection Force on Mancreu (NatProMan). The pollution is deemed an international threat and it has been decided to blow it up. Lester Ferris is a Sergeant in the British Army and has also been the senior (only) member of consular staff since everyone else left. Lester is concerned about the future of the boy who calls himself Robin, `the boy' is obsessed with comic books and superheroes, his spoken English learnt mainly from TV shows, movies and online gaming where the players come from all over the world. Apart from those two there is a cast of wonderful and memorable supporting players, without whom this novel would not have succeeded.

As the end draws nearer the Island becomes an increasingly dangerous place and `the boy' needs Lester (to borrow the words from `The Arrow' TV show) `to become someone else, to become something else' and Tigerman is born.

It is a completely crazy novel, a comic book action adventure that builds to a race against time. Like all comic books the hero has to have his nemesis, in `Tigerman' we have Bad Jack, who is he, does he really exist and if he does will we ever meet him? A memorable and hilarious scene occurs near the start of the novel and involves, of all things, tomato plants, Harkaway truly has a bizarre imagination and when reading the scene I was amazed, bemused and smiling. It is a funny book that makes serious points and there are a few sad moments. It also has a beautiful cover!

If you haven't read Harkaway before this could be a good place to start, for one thing it is a bit shorter than his previous two novels! In a time when so many authors write series and trilogies it is refreshing to find an author who who comes up with something new each time and I hope that I won't have to wait too many years for his next novel, by which time I believe that he will have become a household name. Okay as a big fan I would say that but if I had been disappointed with `Tigerman' I would have said so! I also like the fact that even in his the self-penned bio Harkaway makes no reference to his illustrious literary Dad, if you want to know who it is, it is easy enough to find out though.

Thanks to Random House for providing the proof copy, however I have ordered the HB, partly because I really love the cover.
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5.0 out of 5 stars Five Stars, 8 Sep 2014
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This review is from: Tigerman (Kindle Edition)
This is a wonderful book with big themes and emotional depth but is exciting all the way through
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1 of 2 people found the following review helpful
3.0 out of 5 stars A bit of a disappointment, 27 Jun 2014
By 
Graham Godfrey (Worcestershire UK) - See all my reviews
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This review is from: Tigerman (Hardcover)
A decent enough read and an interesting basic idea, but he didn't develop the concept of "the fleet" nearly enough and instead concentrated on the daily goings on of the island. A bit disappointing, you keep expecting something wider to happen but it never does.
Absolutely not in the same league as Angelmaker, nothing like the ideas and excitement of that book. Doesn't make me wait impatiently for his next work.
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4 of 7 people found the following review helpful
3.0 out of 5 stars Funny in parts but unsatisfying overall, 26 May 2014
This review is from: Tigerman (Kindle Edition)
Thanks to NetGalley and Random House for the ARC of this book.

I have been meaning to read a Nick Harkaway book for years, since I heard his first book ‘The Gone Away World’ featured on Simon Mayo’s radio programme, but somehow I have never quite got around to getting a copy. The covers are always so enticing and his latest novel ‘Tigerman’ is no exception. So I was really pleased to receive an advance reading copy via NetGalley, particularly as I was going to see Harkaway talk about this book at the Hay Festival on Saturday.

I’m not entirely sure what to make of this novel. It’s a curious mishmash of a very literary style and a comic book thriller plot. I found that the juxtaposition of prose and plot style acted to diminish rather than enhance the other. I think there’s probably a really enjoyable and funny thriller hidden inside this book but it is obscured by too many pages of dense description and melancholic inner monologue.

The book follows Sergeant Lester Ferris who is the one remaining British representative on the dying island of Mancreu situated somewhere in the Arabian Sea. Mancreu has been so heavily polluted by a chemical factory that it is scheduled to be destroyed imminently. People are abandoning the island and it has been left with a lawless community and a ‘black fleet’ of corrupt international ships just offshore. After the murder of one of his friends, the sergeant forms an unlikely alliance with a boy whom he wishes to adopt in order to find out why this crime happened.

At first this book seems to be the standard fish out of water story, a familiar tale of a solitary white colonial European man living in an exotic location populated with myths, legends and a motley assemblage of larger than life characters. However, halfway through it takes a very unexpected turn into a comic-book style crime-fighting caper when the Sergeant dons a masks and becomes the eponymous ‘Tigerman’ and sets out to combat the dark criminal forces on the island. Just as I was managing to adjust to this storyline and began to find it interesting, there is another almighty plot twist and a ridiculous, unsatisfying ending.

I found this book very difficult to get into. The two main characters are described as ‘The Sergeant’ and ‘the boy’ rather than using their names; I found this device to be a barrier to making a connection with the characters.

I loved the parts of the book where there is dialogue between Lester and other characters, particularly the American representative, Jed Kershaw. Those scenes are generally very funny; the dialogue is sparkling and witty and is so much more enjoyable than the vast sections of dense description written in a much more serious and contemplative tone. The boy also has a wonderfully amusing way of speaking which is informed by the variety of different international media available to him over the internet. For example, he perpetually describes Lester as ‘full of win’.

The parts of this book with dialogue or extreme comic book action hint at the potential this book had to be a funny, enjoyable read, but in the end I found it didn’t quite come together for me. The characters are not engaging enough in the first part of the book to really care about the outcome for them and I never really felt the required connection with ‘the Sergeant’ to enjoy reading his solemn, troubled inner monologue.
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2 of 4 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars Magic on the page again for me., 28 May 2014
By 
Liz Wilkins "Lizzy11268" (England) - See all my reviews
(TOP 500 REVIEWER)   
This review is from: Tigerman (Hardcover)
Publication Date: Available now from Randomhouse UK Cornerstone.

Thank you to the author and publisher for the review copy via netgalley.

Lester Ferris, sergeant of the British Army, is a good man in need of a rest. He’s spent a lot of his life being shot at, and Afghanistan was the last stop on his road to exhaustion. He has no family, he’s nearly forty, burned out and about to be retired.
The island of Mancreu is the ideal place for Lester to serve out his time. It’s a former British colony in legal limbo, soon to be destroyed because of its very special version of toxic pollution – a down-at-heel, mildly larcenous backwater. Of course, that also makes Mancreu perfect for shady business, hence the Black Fleet of illicit ships lurking in the bay: listening stations, offshore hospitals, money laundering operations, drug factories and deniable torture centres. None of which should be a problem, because Lester’s brief is to sit tight and turn a blind eye.

Well, “The Gone Away World” is in my top 5 favourite reads of all time, not only because of its wonderfully quirky nature but because every time I read it again I get something new from it. “AngelMaker” gave me another beautiful reading experience so I was dying to dive into this latest one and once again the magic happened.

The thing I love most about Nick Harkaway as an author is that he writes in a unique style, despite being pointed towards other so called “similar” books in those endless recommendations we all receive from places like Amazon, I have never found anything that comes close to the sheer illusion and enchantment he can infuse into his varying stories. In this case there is something different again, but once more allowing his individual and dare I say it, slightly crazy outlook on life to shine through. And as far as storytelling genius goes, you don’t get much better than this.

Here we meet Lester, killing time whilst waiting for the end to come for the Isle of Mancreu, pretty much sleepwalking through life until he makes a friend and, well, then things happen. Yeah. Don’t really want to say much more, the whole story unfolds with gorgeous, sprawling and delightful effect, holding you in that world, walking alongside the people who inhabit it, and going on that adventure with them. Pretty much as with “The Gone Away World” I emerged sometime later blinking into the sunlight. Well, this being the UK the rain, but still. I was dazzled.

What else can I say? Characterisation is as ever top notch, creatively speaking this is a marvel and yes, not everyone will love the way that the author puts words on the page, but I’m fairly sure everyone will appreciate the sheer grace and artistry of it. If you want my negatives, well, sorry I don’t really have any. The Gone Away World still remains my favourite of the books so far, but this one enthralled me and surprised me and I don’t ask for more. The only problem now is, waiting for another spell to be cast. Its the chronic impatience that will kill me.

Happy Reading Folks!
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4 of 8 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Compelling, 25 May 2014
By 
Syriat - See all my reviews
(TOP 500 REVIEWER)   
This review is from: Tigerman (Kindle Edition)
Lester Ferris is a man without ties. He is the British presence on the doomed island of Mancreu. Surrounded by a fleet of ships that he can’t touch, threatened by ecological disaster he can’t stop and walking the line between the different factions without being able to take a side Ferris is a man without a mission. However, his burgeoning friendship with a young boy and the death of a friend starts the path towards a combustible end which the island seems pre-destined to fall. This is the story of a man who discovers that he wants to be needed by more than queen and country.
The third novel by Harkaway has the usual mix of the funny, ridiculous and manic circumstances and is populated by a supporting cast of characters who, as ever, have varying motivations. Sometimes it can be difficult to keep track of those and all the characters. However, the way in which Harkaway keeps the momentum driving forward towards the various set pieces is a delight. The main character is a great focal point of the story and his is a tale well told in a believably bizarre world. This is the story of what it is to be a hero and a parent and how those things are never quite as you would expect them to be.
What makes Harkaway’s novels so endearing is that they have a real resonance. You connect with the characters and feel their circumstances and pain. Ferris is a great focus and his story resonates with you and makes you understand his dilemma’s and fear for his decisions. The inventiveness of Harkaway is equal to his previous novels here and it is a fitting follow up to Angelmaker. The mix of a surreal situation, strong set pieces and invention means that this is a book to recommend.
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0 of 1 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Another Existentialist Pulp Fiction Classic From Nick Harkaway, 1 July 2014
By 
John Kwok (New York, NY USA) - See all my reviews
This review is from: Tigerman (Hardcover)
Dubbed the creator of a new literary genre, "existentialist pulp", by io9 editor and book reviewer Charlie Jane Anders, Nick Harkaway's "Tigerman" may prove to be his most accessible, most personal, novel to date, since it is focused on the strong, unlikely, friendship that emerges between British Army Sergeant Lester Ferris and a brilliant young native, the street kid who calls himself Robin, and is addicted to both the internet and to comic books. A veteran of the ongoing Afghanistan conflict, Lester finds himself on the remote island of Mancreu as the possessor of the ceremonial post of British Consul; an island that sits atop an artificial volcano, surrounded by a "Black Fleet" comprised of boats crewed by professional criminals, especially by vile and dangerous drug smugglers. Lester hopes young Robin may see him as the substitute father, and ponders a future with him as an adopted son, even as a rather routine, dull existence on Mancreu soon becomes atypically violent and bloody, with Lester and Robin relying on their wits, and a mutual love of comics in confronting their deadly foes. "Tigerman" may lack the frantic pacing and energy present in Harkaway's earlier novels, "The Gone-Away World" and "Angelmaker", but he still introduces us to a host of memorable characters of whom the most fascinating may be the young Japanese scientist with whom Lester finds himself falling in love with. "Tigerman" is as clever and impulsively readable, a mashup of genres as riveting as his earlier novels, skillfully blending an espionage thriller with superhero pulp fiction, that, despite its superficial similarities, remains a novel quite different in style and tone from Michael Chabon's "The Adventures of Kavalier and Clay". Instead, Harkaway demonstrates that he excels in credible world-building of both characters and setting that deserves favorable comparisons with China Mieville's latest work, most notably, "The City and The City", "Kraken" and "Railsea", even if his literary style differs greatly from Mieville's. Along with Mieville, Harkaway should be viewed as one of the most original, most distinctive, voices writing fiction now, and like him, both an exceptional prose stylist and storyteller worthy of note in contemporary British fiction, irrespective of his strong ties to genre, not least because he is the son of a well-known British writer renowned for his espionage thrillers of exceptional literary quality. Without question, "Tigerman" should be viewed as one of the finest novels published this year, and as a yet another worthy addition to Harkaway's all too brief list of his exceptional genre-bending novels.
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0 of 1 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars only one flaw for me, 23 Jun 2014
By 
M. King (Preston, England) - See all my reviews
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This review is from: Tigerman (Kindle Edition)
Harkaway is a writer that I have grown greatly attached to and he doesn't disappoint here.

Be warned that this a much more satirical and dark outing than his previous efforts. It still has the epic barminess, in parts, of his other novels but it's a lot less cheerful.

My big gripe is the boy, who is a major factor in what happens. As a character he didn't feel terribly well fleshed out to convince you of the actions that his presence motivates.

But it's still an engaging and entertaining novel.
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Tigerman
Tigerman by Nick Harkaway (Hardcover - 22 May 2014)
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