Score: 93+/100 (9.3+ out of 10)
Wow! Well, this book was absolutely, positively nothing like we expected!
It was actually FUN, exciting, vulgar, hard-hitting, action-packed, and—quite frankly—a bit goofy. This was not the super-serious, realistic, gritty drama that we were expecting based on the title and the cover. It's actually an imaginative, experimental mind-bender that marries the seemingly uncompatible subjects of martial arts, artificial intelligence, medical science fiction, daoism, and tai-chi!
The author puts these [totally unlike] ingredients together in a blender, then hits the puree button. It is wild. It is silly. It is goofy. It's over-the-top. It's a bit nonsensical, but—like a typical Bruce Lee, Chuck Norris, Steven Seagal, or Van Dan movie—it's dang entertaining.
The author is clearly passionate about martial arts, particularly tai-chi. Many of the concepts, a lot of the moments, and even the very MOOD/TONE of some of chapters is supposed to reflect aspects of tai-chi. We're surprised because we, like the majority of people, don't usually view tai-chi as a serious fighting art, rather as a practice done by geriatric people in the park (which the author acknowledges). Well, apparently, tai-chi does have combat applications which characters demonstrate throughout this winding, weaving tale.
Speaking of this tale, it features the badass, titular Girl from Wudang, Yinyin. Look, we're a little confused due to how chaotic and wild this book got, but from what we gathered, Yinyin is the living, breathing manifestation of a powerful, legendary, mythical female tiger, possibly related to the tiger from the Chinese zodiac. For this reason, she is often referred to as “Tigress” which she seems to also adopt as her ring name when she becomes a professional fighter in California.
When we first meet Yinyin, she spends about thirty minutes (maybe 20 pages) beating up a lecherous man who disrespects her and another girl at a venue. We're not sure if the author realized this, but it was actually hilarious and comedic how detailed, specific, and drawn out this one-sided brawl was. If you thought Goku and Frieza's duel on Namek was drawn out, you haven't read the opening fight in this book.
However, what's clear about Yinyin from the beginning is that:
What's interesting is that we get a little more context for this throughout the book, such as during her mentorship under Shifu. So, she doesn't hate all people and all men after all. In fact, she even explores a relationship with a man named Simon, someone who begins to chip away at her hard exterior and melt her cold heart.
But that's beside the point... back to fighting! We get a bunch of action scenes of Yinyin as a professional fighter beating up everyone like she's Alice from the Resident Evil movies or Beatrix from Kill Bill. She is clearly the best, most awesome, and most unstoppable fighter ever in the history of everness. And she don't need no man.
Anyway, Yinyin's supernatural/nigh-supernatural fighting prowess garners the attention of the scientific community. In particular, the unscrupulous Dr. Lamberechts seeks to take the very best of humanity (supposedly) and put it into an AI program that can solve all of humanity's problems (supposedly). He targets Yinyin as the ultimate template for his AI as far as a physical, fighting specimen with top-notch martial arts instincts and knowledge. In other words, Dr. Lamberechts is Dr. Wheelo from Dragon Ball Z: The World's Strongest.
Dr. Lamberechts and his associates seem more concerned with using this AI to gain a military and technological advantage over the east, particularly China, Yinyin's home. What's interesting is that this book actually seems plausible in this regard, even providing precedence for this by referring to Meta/Facebook's ongoing AI program(s).
In case you're wondering: what does any of that have to do with anything else that happened at the beginning of the book? Just stop. Just enjoy this for what it is.
This book has a lot of style and pizzazz. For example, the author's name, subtitle, and a lot of the text throughout the book has a kind of technical, serif-like font, almost as if it were part of a computer program. Also, we can't help but comment on the fight choreography in this book. It's both awesome and ill-advised at the same time. You don't normally want a play-by-play in action scenes because it becomes clunky and bloats the length of the text. However, the author still managed to make those moments interesting, if a bit unnecessary (or unnecessarily long).
Do you know what this book reminded us the most of?
No, it wasn't Kill Bill, Resident Evil, or any other female power fantasy. It actually reminded us the most of The One with Jet-Li from 2001. Do you remember The One? It's a movie that seemingly ended before it began. However, it was so over-the-top and awesome with its action scenes that you almost forget that the movie had a plot. It also featured a sci-fi element to it that married itself with the idea that dao is finite and split between people (and universes).
Anyway, this is a worthwhile book if you like martial arts and action stories with a sci-fi edge.
Check it out on Amazon!