Wednesday, February 2, 2011

Exclamation: Rock, Paper, Tiger

Rock, Paper, Tiger
Lisa Brackmann

One word: "Well-executed."

The writing is tight, the plot is tight. Its uniqueness derives from the strange setting: an Iraq War female veteran in an artistic community in China that may or may not get raided by the government any time, along with gaming and digital conspiracy thrown in.

(The story itself doesn't show this immediately. One of the wonderful things about this book is how it slowly unwraps and unwraps the whole picture. This, of course, is ruined by the book jacket that outright states the protagonist is an veteran. Good thing I have a habit of forgetting the synopsis as I go deeper into the book.)

I found the characters coming across very vibrant - despite some of the gritty themes, no character is wallowing or wailing - and none of them are stereotypical. Each has a distinct characteristic, that is both quirky and believable. Perhaps because of this, however, I also felt some of them might come across a bit flat, not being developed beyond the initial quirk that they show. Others, on the other hand, still leave you with a feeling you haven't met all their complicated sides only hinted at.

Most of all: the pace. Pacing is what I learned from this book. Nothing is explained, and until the "parlour scene" at the end of the book, the readers know very little about the background forces. But the action continues despite the lack of revelation and without losing the grip on its audience, and I find myself willing to go along without stopping and screeching "wait but who did this and why did they come and who are they, anyways??" because I can't wait to find out what the hell's going to happen next.

That's how action should be, how pacing should be.

Note:  I'm not really meaning to "review" these books, or to critique or even analyse them. My real purpose, actually, is to learn from these books. So I will be commenting more on the books' use of language and the characterization, etc., instead of from a literary point of view, and as something that I felt when I was reading. This is all personal stuff. 

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