Reading Group Guide
1. At the beginning of the story, Clark Shealy vows to do whatever it takes to save his wife’s life --- even if it means torturing someone to get information --- but it soon becomes clear he has his limits. What holds him back? Would the Clark we see at the end of the story have done anything differently?
2. Are there ever instances in which the ends justify the means? Can you think of any biblical examples to support either or both positions? Have you ever done something hurtful because you thought it was truly in someone’s best interest? Looking back, do you think you were justified to do so?
3. Even though they only spend a short time together, Clark is tremendously impacted by Professor Kumari, so much so that he is almost reluctant to trade him for Jessica’s life. Why do you think that is?
4. Near the end of Part I, Clark feels remorse over not following through on the plan he and Professor Kumari had agreed upon. Did he make the right decision? What would you have done in that situation?
5. Jamie is a woman with a high sense of justice --- she sees the world in black and white. Does this ever backfire on her throughout the story? Isaiah, in contrast, seems to thrive in shades of gray. Are you more like Jamie or Isaiah in the way you approach dilemmas and solve problems?
6. Jamie says that after her mother’s death, she lost a certain innocence --- “the belief that things happen for a purpose, that the world was generally just, that bad things don’t happen to good people.” Do you agree with what Jamie used to believe? Why or why not?
7. Both David and Stacie were profoundly impacted by their visit to Professor Kumari’s church in India, though it takes David a little longer to believe God will forgive him after all he’s done. Is any sin too big for God to forgive? If we believe that God’s grace is sufficient, what holds us back from fully surrendering to him?
8. How important is our right to privacy? Do you think the government ever has the right to invade that privacy if doing so will protect lives? Was what they did to Jamie justified?
9. In chapter 85, Wellington feels overwhelmed by the responsibility that is placed in his hands, comparing his situation to several biblical greats like Paul and David. Is Wellington right that the algorithm needs to be kept under wraps? Are there some tools that are too powerful for humans to handle responsibly? What should we do with such situations?
10. What are the ethical difficulties that come with buying, selling, and using a powerful tool like the Abacus Algorithm? What if it were something more altruistic, like the cure for cancer or a way to end world hunger? Should such advances be shared with everyone, or is it okay to sell them only to the highest bidder?
11. How did you feel about David and Stacie’s final plan regarding the algorithm? How would Professor Kumari would have felt about it?
12. What did you think about the deal Jamie cuts at the end of Part IV? Did she compromise her beliefs?
13. Do you think Jamie will make a good prosecutor? Why or why not?
- Publication Date: April 25, 2011
- Paperback: 432 pages
- Publisher: Tyndale House Publishers, Inc.
- ISBN-10: 1414335695
- ISBN-13: 9781414335698