Summary and book reviews of Rock Paper Tiger by Lisa Brackmann

Rock Paper Tiger

by Lisa Brackmann

Rock Paper Tiger
  • Critics' Opinion:

    Readers' Opinion:

     Not Yet Rated
  • First Published:
    Jun 2010, 368 pages
    Paperback:
    Jun 2011, 336 pages

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Book Reviewed by:
Judy Krueger

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About this Book

Book Summary

American Ellie Cooper, deserted by her husband, has made a number of friends in China. But suddenly one of them disappears, and security organizations are hounding her for information. Contacted through an online role-playing game by a group claiming to be friends of Lao Zhang asking her for help, Ellie does the only thing she can - keep on playing.

Iraq vet Ellie Cooper is down and out in China, trying to lose herself in the alien worlds of performance artists and online gamers. When a chance encounter with a Muslim fugitive drops her down a rabbit hole of conspiracies, Ellie must decide who to trust among the artists, dealers, collectors and operatives claiming to be on her side – in particular, a mysterious organization operating within a popular online game.

Chapter One

I’m living in this dump in Haidian Qu, close to Wudaokou, on the twenty-first floor of a decaying high-rise. The grounds are bare; the trees have died; the rubber tiles on the walkways, in their garish pink and yellow, are cracked and curling. The lights have been out in the lobby since I moved in; they never finished the interior walls in the foyers outside the elevator, and the windows are boarded up, so every time I step outside the apartment door I’m in a weird twilight world of bare cement and blue fluorescent light.

The worst thing about the foyer is that I might run into Mrs. Hua, who lives next door with her fat spoiled-brat kid. She hates that I’m crashing here, thinks I’m some slutty American who is corrupting China’s morals. She’s always muttering under her breath, threatening to report me to the Public Security Bureau for all kinds of made-up shit. It’s not like I ever did ...

Please be aware that this discussion guide may contain spoilers!
ROCK PAPER TIGER READER’S GUIDE
  1. Central to Rock Paper Tiger is the concept of the Surveillance State, in which one’s every move is observed. In what ways does Ellie believe she is being watched? To what extent are these beliefs rational? What are the different forms that surveillance takes? What are the similarities and differences between the Chinese and Western surveillance states?

  2. Throughout the novel, flashbacks are used to show Ellie’s past. How does Ellie’s backstory illuminate what she’s going through in the present? How does her past influence her decisions?

  3. What impact does Ellie’s economic situation have on the story? How does this affect her decision making? ...
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Reviews

BookBrowse Review

BookBrowse

Let's consider the requirements for the heroine of a modern day thriller: a painful incident in her recent past, residence in an exotic locale, a heightened ability to talk trash, and a complete inability to recognize danger as she walks right into it. Ellie Cooper has them all... any reader who doesn't mind the language and some gritty violence would not only be entertained but enlightened about a country that looms so prevalently in our current world.   (Reviewed by Judy Krueger).

Full Review Members Only (586 words).

Media Reviews

The New York Times - Anderson Tepper

Lisa Brackmann's first novel gets off to a fast start and never lets up…Rock Paper Tiger isn't the most subtle or penetrating of mysteries, and I'm not even sure I got all the plot lines figured out. Or that I needed to. But if your interests range wide and far, from the Iraq war to online gaming and the globalization of China, this may be your book. Just be prepared for a wild ride.

The Boston Globe

Reading Rock Paper Tiger is a largely enjoyable breeze, but the book is ultimately unfulfilling, like the cliched restaurant meal that goes down easy but leaves one hungry an hour later.

Library Journal

A gritty and intriguing tale of terror that draws in the reader with each page; Brackmann is a new writer to watch.

Booklist

Although the ending falls a bit flat, the tension up to that point is sustained superbly, and the characters are full-bodied and engaging.

Publishers Weekly

Starred Review. Given the high-octane leadup, the ending is a bit of a letdown, but the book's exotic setting and tough heroine will definitely appeal to fans of John Burdett and Stieg Larsson.

Author Blurb Jeff Abbott, author of Fear
Lisa Brackmann's Rock Paper Tiger is a compelling debut that takes you deep into the dangerous, complicated heart of modern China, with a tough and appealing heroine in Ellie McEnroe.

Author Blurb T. Jefferson Parker
Rock Paper Tiger" is a splendid debut novel by a gifted new writer. Her Chinese setting is exotic and chilling, and the characters live and breathe. The story is smart and fast as a sports car. Keep an eye on Brackmann.

Author Blurb Qiu Xiaolong, The Mao Case
A terrifying odyssey in present-day China, running through the political capital, Beijing; the coal mining capital, Taiyuan; the ancient capital, Xi'an; and the Three-Kingdoms capital, Chengdu; not to mention the capital of the post-modern Great Community, the computer game, with the protagonist pursued by the Chinese and American governments alike in a global panorama. A totally captivating page-turner with vivid, first-hand details and nuanced multi-cultural facets.

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Beyond the Book

A Quick Tour of Chinese Cities Found in Rock Paper Tiger

Since the 2008 Olympics, China has become more of a tourist destination than ever. For those of us who haven't ventured that far, here is an overview of the cities where Ellie Cooper tried to elude her pursuers.

Beijing
Also known as Peking, Beijing is the capital of The People's Republic of China as well as its political, educational and cultural center. Both names are the transliteration of the sound of the Mandarin name, meaning "northern capital," which sounds something like "pay-cheeng" or "bey-jing." As of February 2010, the combined population of permanent and non-permanent residents exceeds 22 million. Here Ellie lives on coffee, beer and dumplings, and gets abducted by Creepy John while at a party on the Simatia portion of the ...

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