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Book Club Mon Oct 23 2006

Cast of Shadows Discussion Questions

Below you’ll find the questions we’ll use to guide our discussion of Cast of Shadows. Use the comments screen to answer one, answer them all, or answer them in any order you’d like. Spoilers are allowed, so please keep that in mind when looking through the comments if you have yet to finish the book. Feel free to post your own questions or bring up any aspect of the book you’d like to discuss; this is just a guide and, like our monthly meetings, the discussion is free to go in any direction we choose.

  1. The driving force of the book is Davis’s intense desire to look into the eyes of his daughter’s killer. Is this desire is normal or realistic? Are his actions?
  2. Do you think that by taking these extreme actions Davis will bring an end to his grief? Does Davis believe they will?
  3. In regards to their use in the story, how do you feel about the acceptance of genetic cloning and impregnating women with cloned cells? Does this plot device work in the book?
  4. In his meeting with Martha and Terry Finn, Davis goes over some of the legal and physical restrictions and ramifications of cloning. Do these explanations adequately cover the consequences of birthing a cloned child? Did your thoughts on this change over the course of the story?
  5. Does your opinion of Davis change throughout the story? Do you find him a sympathetic character or a person fueled by negative emotions?
  6. The Hands of God denounce the idea of reproductive freedom and a woman’s right to carry cloned children. How do their ideals affect your views of cloning in the novel? What parallels can you draw between their tactics and current anti-abortion activists?
  7. Is it possible for Davis to be objective about nature vs. nurture? Which side does he fall on?
  8. Early on, the Finns start to wonder about Justin’s genes, for example when he starts swearing and later when he becomes interested in philosophy at a young age. After knowing Davis’s secret, Joan also starts questioning Justin’s past, but Davis assures her that there’s no hereditary link for violence. Does Davis remain firm on this issue throughout the story? How does he feel about it by the end?
  9. What role does Shadow World play in the book? How does it help us learn about Justin?
  10. How well does Shadow World mirror current video and computer games and can you imagine a similar game in our future? How would it affect our society?
  11. What roles does the Wicker Man play? Are the Wicker Man and Shadow World successful plot devices?
  12. When Justin finally confronts Davis, does Davis owe it to him to tell him the truth? Knowing how the story ends, would Justin have been better off not knowing the secrets of his past?
  13. Is there any ethical or scientific merit to what Davis has done? Is it all for selfish reasons?
  14. Both Davis and Mickey the Gerund go to extremes to do what they believe is right. In what ways are their quests similar? Dissimilar?
  15. Do you sympathize with one of the men, Mickey or Davis, more than the other? Why or why not?
  16. Was the ending satisfying? Did you already have it all figured out or were you shocked?
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