"I come for Tappan's stories, stay for the action, and swoon for her heroes!"
"I come for Tappan's stories, stay for the action, and swoon for her heroes!"
— Tome Tender
The theme of fear and stress:
Jason deals with very stressful situations by numbing himself out, telling himself that he will deal with the stress later. What are the advantages and disadvantages to this kind of reaction to stressful situations? How do you think Jason developed this style of reacting? Did this change over the course of the book?
Have you ever been in a scary/stressful situation in which you delayed panic or fearful feelings in order to keep your head about you? How hard was this to do?
The theme of power and control:
Jason’s father, Spencer, tries to exert ultimate control over Jason, and Farrin’s husband, Raham, does the same to her. How did this affect each of these characters: their personalities, the way they lived their lives, the way they viewed the world, etc.? How did they deal with these attempts to control them?
Is there anything you would have done differently in the same situation?
The theme of abuse:
Both Jason and Shane come from abusive backgrounds, and both were drawn into careers in the military. Do you think there is anything about this type of background that might have drawn these two into being fighting men?
What characteristics that a man might develop from this kind of background could possibly benefit him as a warrior? How might these traits hinder him? How might men from this sort of background deal with stress in the field differently from their peers? How might they deal differently with their superiors, or won’t there be a difference?
Do you think attributes you developed from your background ever motivated you to take on a certain role or job?
The theme of leadership:
Jason says to himself that he doesn’t want to be everyone’s big brother, yet he continues in a career that requires a great deal of leadership skills. What do you think this says about his personality? How do you think he grew to be such a leader?
Farrin’s role as a leader isn’t deeply discussed within the story, but do you consider her to be a leader? If so, how do you think her need to be a leader, rather than a follower, affected her marriage with Raham?
Have you ever felt pushed into a role that you didn’t want to hold, a leadership role or other?
The theme of trust:
Jason’s untrusting relationship with his mother has created in him a knee-jerk reaction to most other women; he instantly thinks negatively of them and is unwilling to trust them. What is it about Farrin that finally allows him to be willing to open himself up to the idea of trusting her?
Farrin has issues with trust too. What aspects of her past lead her to close herself off to others? How does she deal with her trust issues similarly to or differently from Jason?
Jason is very slow to disclose information about himself to Farrin. Have you ever been in a situation where you had to try to trust someone you cared about, even though you knew very little about him?
The theme of guilt:
Feelings of guilt burden Farrin. For many years, she felt like she failed her culture and her family. Did these feelings benefit her at all? Did they hold her back? How does she continue to deal with guilt in the present day (like her feelings about Paul, the one-eyed Navy pilot who was murdered?) What is the price of such high levels of self-criticism?
Have you ever tried to put yourself in a role that didn’t feel right to you because everyone around you said it was the “correct” way to be and act? How did this decision turn out? Did the outcome change your feelings about guilt?
The theme of running:
In MAN DOWN, the act of actually, physically running (across Pakistan to escape terrorists) is juxtaposed next to metaphorical running away. What is each character—Jason, Shane, and Farrin—running away from psychologically?
Do you think running away is a good idea or would confronting their problems be a better choice? If confrontation, what is the most effective way to do that?
“He who fights and runs away. May live to fight another day.” Do you agree with this adage in some instances?
In your life, has it ever been wiser to let a problem lie for a while before confronting it? Why?
The theme of sexuality:
Probably one of the most unusual aspects about MAN DOWN as a romance novel is that the hero and heroine are relatively sexless. What motivations lie beneath Jason and Farrin’s reticence to be in sexual relationships? Would you classify this as hiding from life or taking care of themselves?
What allows their sexuality to awaken with each other? How do Jason and Farrin react to this burgeoning interest in sex with each other?
Have you ever found yourself to be surprised by an attraction you developed for someone?
The theme of family:
Generally in our culture, family sits high in importance. What do you think the costs were to Jason and Farrin removing themselves from contact with their families? Were there also benefits to that? Do you think that Farrin’s Iranian culture made her disconnect from her family more difficult than Jason’s or not really?
Do you think Farrin should contact her family now that she is no longer hiding from Raham?
Do you think Jason should try to forgive his mother and reinitiate contact with Georgette?
What role does family play in your life?
The theme of memories:
Both Jason and Farrin suffer from powerful, traumatic memories that can be triggered by certain stimuli: horses for Jason, and complete darkness plus the sound of heavy breathing for Farrin. Once their memories are triggered, do they have any control over them? How do they deal with them? Do you think the defense mechanisms they’ve developed are helpful or harmful?
How do you think Shane’s memory about the night he received his facial scar affects him?
At the end of the story, both Jason and Farrin confront their pasts: Jason faces his father and Farrin has a final showdown with Raham. What effect did these confrontations have on them? Do you foresee any changes being brought about in regards to their memories?
Do you think bad memories are more powerful motivators to human behavior than good ones?
** What scene was the most emotionally impact to you? Why?
** Who was the worst villain in the story for you?
** What event, past or present, most terrified you in the story?
** What scene most put you on the edge of your seat?
** What relationship did you find the most interesting or most surprising?
** Did any scene make you angry? Why?
** Which character had the most to overcome?
1. Jason has a younger brother, Danny, who is also a Navy helicopter pilot. What is Danny’s call sign?
2. Raham (Farrin’s first husband) held an important position in the Iranian government. What was his job?
3. Farrin gives Jason two Labrador puppies as a wedding present at the end of the book. What are their names?
4. Does Farrin have any siblings?
5. Shane met Kitty at the end of Hell Week when he needed medical treatment. What was the condition he needed to be treated for?
6. What did Farrin give to the CIA in order to obtain asylum in the United States?
7. Shane was shot four times over the course of the story. Where did he take his bullet wounds?
8. What caused Jason and Shane’s helicopter to crash in the beginning of the book?
9. Why did AIRPAC want Jason to fly for Special Operations aviation warfare?
10. Periodically throughout the story, Jason has a PTSD flashback to someone he killed in Pakistan. What image does he keep reliving in his mind?
11. Where are Jason and Shane from? (what city?)
12. What is the call sign of the SEAL with the big, battering ram head?
13. What two sensory situations spark Farrin’s nightmare memories about sex with her first husband, Raham?
14. Shane has a prominent scar. Where is it?
15. When Farrin discovered that her laundryman, Kaleen, was really a bad guy, what horrific act did he commit?
16. Why does Jason spend nearly the entire book without underwear?
17. Jason’s father, Spencer, has a compulsion. What is it?
18. What is the name of the terrorist group hunting Jason, Shane, and Farrin?
19. Who is the character of Little Shit in this story?
20. Where in America did Farrin live with her adoptive parents (what state?)
21. What is Shane’s favorite type of movie?
22. Farrin medically treated a young Pakistani boy. Where on his body was he injured?
23. How did the Pakistani couple, Usman and Afia, save Jason, Shane, and Farrin from the Taliban?
24. What type(s) of birth control did Jason and Farrin use when they had sex at the SEAL outpost?
25. What seems to be Jason’s favorite drink?
Answer Key for Trivia Questions:
2. Minister of Petroleum.
3. Hero and Rotor.
4. Yes. One sister.
5. Walking pneumonia.
6. Bank statements incriminating her husband, Raham, of funding terrorism against the United States.
7. Left triceps, right shoulder, right buttocks, and at the end of the book, he got shot in the left shoulder.
8. RPG strike.
9. They wanted to man their SPECOPS helicopter squadrons with aviators who’d gone through SOF (Special Operations Forces) training.
10. Aladdin’s bloody ruby.
13. Complete darkness and the sound of heavy breathing.
14. The left side of his face.
15. He shot the one-eyed Navy pilot convalescing in the post-op ward.
16. His underwear was stolen by the double-crossing laundryman, Kaleem.
17. Neatness and exacting order.
18. The Taliban.
19. The gray gelding Jason rides.
21. Sci-fi.22. The shin.
23. The couple hid them in a food cellar.
24. First a condom, then the pull-out method.