Reading Group Guide for Déjà Vu

Tread carefully. Contains spoilers.

Who are the key characters?

In this story, we have two main characters – David Proctor and Saskia Brandt. Which of these is the most engaging? David, who has led a privileged life (albeit affected by tragedy), acquiesces to an escape plan because he has nothing left to lose. Saskia, on the other hand, is trying to find out who she is.

What is the book about?

Does this book have a theme? Is there a sense in which it helps us think about computer minds, or identity, or free will?

Voices in the novel

Saskia is a German speaker, so her English is rather terse and precise. David uses an upper middle-class vernacular. And we have Scotty, McWhirter, Janine, and Mrs McMurray. To what extent does the mode of speech affect the telling of the story? Did the author make the right decisions about how these accents were presented?

The characters’ actions

Did you agree with and understand why the characters acted in the ways they did? Were there moments when characters did not behave in the manner you were expecting? Why might this be? Think about the author’s technique of withholding information from you and the characters – did this create a pleasant air of mystery or one of frustration at being left out of the loop?

Projecting into the future

What do you think will happen to the characters next?

Time period

Much of this book is set in the year 2023. What did you think of the way this was described? What do you think a person from 2023 would make of this book?

Writing style

The book features short, punchy sentences. Did this make it easier or harder to read? Why do you think the author chose to write in this manner? Every author makes a decision about whether to present a story in the first, third (even second) person. Was this appropriate here?

The author

At the end of the electronic version of this book, the author has provided excerpts from his blog that describe the process of writing, editing and publishing the book. Did you find that this changed what you thought about the book itself? As a reader, do you like to know more about the author, or would you prefer they remain a little mysterious?

How did the book affect you?

Do you find yourself thinking of the book in odd moments, or was it more of a throwaway read? Has it changed your attitude towards artificially intelligent agents, such as Apple’s voice-activated Siri software for the iPhone? Do you worry about the impact of technology on humanity, or do you feel that technology is ultimately a helpful force?

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