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ATTENTION: Spoilers in the questions.
Book Club Questions for Countdown, Book One: The Skye Van Bloem Trilogy
1. What is notable about the choice of animal characters? Why did the author choose to start the book with the death of a toad, rather than another animal? Why did the author choose a prairie dog as a main character?
2. There are several geographic settings in the book: the Netherlands, Colorado, New Zealand, Australia. Why these? Do you think it is unusual to have these particular locations in a young adult book? What is their significance?
3. The author uses several Dutch words. Are their meanings important? Why these particular words?
4. Biodiversity loss is the central theme of Countdown. How does the author highlight the causes of this?
5. What is striking about all the female characters? Do they have one central feature in common?
6. The author incorporates a diverse group of animal characters in the book. Are the humans also diverse? How? Why is this important?
7. The story includes a considerable number of scientific facts. Why did the author do this? Is this a turnoff for teens or does it work to spur their interest? What doesn’t work? How could the author have done a better job?
8. What is the purpose of the S-Eye in the narrative? What is the point-of-view of this book?
9. Why did the author pick “Les Mis” as Henry’s musical? Might this be foreshadowing?
10. Why is the avalanche scene in the book? Why is it important?
11. Why did the author design the protagonist Skye to be a vegetarian, but not her best friends Henry and Janine?
12. The second book in the trilogy centers around climate change, while the final book is about political revolution. How is the author setting this up in Countdown?
13. Discuss the scene in which Oma dies. Why did the author do this? Was Skye’s reaction appropriate? How would you have reacted? How do you think it will affect Skye’s actions in the next book of the trilogy?