There was a lot of great discussion about this book, which seems to have really captured everyone's attention. I will write about the things we discussed that don't give spoilers, so if you haven't read the book, you should be safe. (There may be some very minor spoilers.)
1. Why is this YA?
More than one member asked this question because, presumably, Julie and Maggie are past their teen years when most of the action takes place. Perhaps it is the spirit of the book or the fact that it begins when they are teens. It could also just be a marketing decision.
2. Did you see von Linden as being totally evil or was he a conflicted character?
Many people thought that his attempts to engage Julie in conversation were an attempt to humanize himself and perhaps make her feel more comfortable. His actions at the end of the book certainly make it seem as though he felt conflicted. Kathryn compared this situation to the episode of Star Trek: The Next Generation when Picard is taken prisoner by the Cardassians. It just so happens that I have a clip to show you, so if you've read the book, you can see the parallels.
3. Maddie does not see herself as a heroic, although her actions are similar to another pilot who she does see as a hero. Is Maddie a hero, too?
I think we all said yes, of course, but Mary made a good point when she said that "a real hero is humble". Maddie doesn't see what she does as heroic because, to her, she was just too afraid to jump. Staying in the plane was the only other choice. Does that make her any less of a hero? I think many people would say no.
4. Maddie had to make a very difficult decision. Did she do the right thing?
I think the answer to this was a unanimous YES.
When we began our meeting, I asked everyone if they found the beginning of the book to be "draggy". Despite the fact that the slow build-up of the book is a criticism I see often for CNV, no one in the group had an issue with it. I asked them if they had issues with the rather dense discussions about airplanes and military protocol. To paraphrase Mary, we are used to reading technical documents that we might not understand. It's part of our job. I don't disagree with that statement!
Some other discussion points:
The subtlety of the mentions of torture in this book.
The origins of the phrase "Kiss me, Hardy".
The class difference between Julie and Maddie.