Reading Groups: The Cartographer

Spoiler alert: Reading Group questions may contain spoilers!

1. How does the kid's withholding of his name add to the tension in the story?

2. How is the implausibility of the frequency of violence compensated for in the novel?

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3. How does the relationship of the kid to his twin develop during the story?

4. Why does the kid see powerful people around him as being super heroes?

5. Why does the kid not restrain himself when there are so many signs that he heading for trouble (again)?

6. How does the kid represent all kids his age, and at the same time, few kids his age?

7. How does the kid treat his granddad, as a friend or a relative, and why?

8. There seems to be a certain acceptance by the kid of his environment, when everything about it tells us is should be unacceptable to him, and to his parents. Why does there seem to be a lack of objection by the characters?

9. Is the environment believable? Why or why not?

10. In what way is Tom is not just absent character but a driving force for the 'real' story of the novel?

11. How do the kid's frequent vivid memories - almost flashbacks - enhance the quality of the story?

12. How does the kid deal with horror?

13. What evidence is there that the kid learned his distinct voice from others?


14. Is this, at bottom, a serious or funny novel? Or is it not that simple? Why?

15. How does the author use smells to evoke emotion, and a sense of time and place?

16. This is an adult novel. Is it simple the inclusion of violence that makes it so? Or it because it appeals to adults in a particular way?

17. How did the novel affect you? How did it make you feel? Did you find yourself reviewing your own childhood? With what results?

18. Given his nature and his environment, what do you think will happen to the kid next?

19. Which bits, if any, made you laugh, cry or feel empathic? Did you feel alright about that? Did any of those moments stay with you after you read the book, or draw cause you to talk about the book?

20. Were you aware of being manipulated by the author or by the kid? How?

21. When was the kid at his most honest or vulnerable? Is it possible that he unconsciously exploited the circumstances to bring about healing in his own life?

22. How conscious of his pretending and bravado do you think the kid is? Why do you think he seems to prefer this way of being to normalcy? What is there to be gained?

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23. There is a good deal of experience of loss in this book: of his brother, his parents through their virtual absence in his life, his dog, and even at times, the closeness of his granddad. What effect does this have on his relationship with the Sandersons?

24. Where do you think he loses the plot altogether? How did you feel about that? How did the kid survive?

25. Was there a point where you wanted to step in help the kid? 

26. Did it occur to you that the kid might be mentally ill? If so, how did that opinion fare as the story unfolded? 

27. How did you feel about the kid's father, mother and granddad? Did you sympathise with them?

28. Did you find yourself constantly being thrown off balance by the kid's style of story telling, or did it all seem to occur nicely to your reader's mind? How did you feel about that?

29. What questions did the book leave you with? Do you still wonder about them?

30. What would you like to ask the author? Is there some debate among readers you know that you think Peter could settle?

images Flickr cc: top attomhoward, centre s2art , bottom rhoftonphoto,

Copyright ©  Peter Twohig. All rights reserved.