“Things Grak Hates” book club questions

As with all good things, the promotional launch period of my debut novel, Things Grak Hates, is coming to a close. I want to leave you with a compilation of questions for book clubs to use when discussing my work. I’ve never been part of a book club, so I don’t know if these are good questions, but I hope they help.

  • Culpability
    • When does a victim become culpable?
    • At what point are a person’s actions no longer excused by past hurts?
    • When do you think Grak’s actions reach the point where they can no longer be excused by past hurts?
  • Control
    • Is Grak ever really in control throughout this story?
    • When and how?
    • Why does the need for control drive him so incessantly?
    • What is control?
    • Are we ever really in control?
    • If so, what do we control?
    • Why do we humans crave control?
  • Redemption
    • Does Grak deserve redemption?
    • Does any tyrant deserve redemption?
    • Does anyone deserve redemption?
    • What is our limit for redemption?
    • Would redemption be desirable and fill us with hope if it were deserved?
    • Are redemption and forgiveness ever really complete without accompanying actions?
    • Would Grak have returned to his old ways if Olive hadn’t helped him?
    • What does redemption look like?
    • What would a culture of redemption look like?
  • Power
    • Is it far-fetched that someone like Grak could take power within the backdrop seen in the book?
    • Is it believable that power could go to the corrupt so easily?
    • What role did naivete play in Grak’s rise to power?
    • What might have succeeded in slowing or stopping Grak’s ascent?
    • Transitioning to the modern world, what about the change in setting makes it more difficult for evil to take control?
  • Hate
    • Is Grak more pompous than the average human?
    • Is he more deserving of hate?
    • Can either of those be quantified?
    • If not, who decides where to draw the line?
    • If we hate Grak, in what way does that differ from Grak’s own list of hates?
    • If selfishness blinds us to its very existence, how do we know we aren’t just as guilty?
    • Why is it so hard to avoid feeling justified hate?
    • If we see similarities to Grak in ourselves, does hatred toward him represent a dilemma?
    • If so, what sort of dilemma?
  • Gratitude
    • How does Grak’s selfishness prevent him from feeling gratitude?
    • Adversely, how does his lack of gratitude encourage his selfishness?
    • Which do you suppose came first, the selfishness or the lack of appreciation?
    • When is gratitude appropriate?
    • When is a feeling of accomplishment more appropriate to the situation?
    • Where should we draw the line between the two?
    • By what standard should we judge which rewards someone else deserves?
    • By what standard should we judge which penalties someone else deserves?
  • Reductionism
    • What springs to mind as Grak’s most glaring simplification of a complex matter?
    • What do you think he missed with that reduction?
    • Did he gain anything by it?
    • Is it necessary to reduce complex moral issues?
    • If so, what do we gain by it?
    • What safeguards might Grak have put in place to ensure that he could reap the benefits without losing sight of the greater picture?
  • The Cost of Selfishness
    • How does Grak’s self-centered nature present most obviously?
    • When does Grak’s selfishness cost him the most?
    • What warning signs should Grak have heeded in order to pull back from himself?
    • How does Grak relate to humanity as a whole?
    • How does our self-centered nature present most obviously?
    • Historically speaking, what has humanity’s selfishness cost us?
    • What does it cost us now?
  • Allegory
    • Which human traits do you see each of the characters representing?
    • What stands out most from each character?

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