Something Strange and Deadly by Susan Dennard | Book club Week 4

Since I am a member of  Epic Reads (HarperTeen’s website), I found out through their Twitter account that the author of Something Strange and Deadly, aka Susan Dennard, started a book club. Like the true book nerd I am I signed up. Every Monday there’s a fresh discussion question waiting and there’s some great prizes to win *squeal!* so you should really hop on over to her website to check it out!

I absolutely can’t believe this is the last week already guys! This has been so much fun and Monday’s sort of became my favourite day because I literally couldn’t wait to check out the new discussion question. I loved participating in this book club and discovering new things about this book! I can only hope that there’ll be more to come!

Now, I’ll stop the sentimental blabbering and go on with the fourth and last discussion question!

Discussion Question #4

“‘Eleanor, you have a choice,’ [Jie] said softly. ‘You always have a choice’” (p. 166, Something Strange & Deadly)

How do you think this quote relates to the overall theme of Something Strange and Deadly? Do you think Eleanor behaves as if she has a choice at the start of the book? What about at the end of the book? And do other characters behave as if they have a choice or do some see themselves as victims of circumstance? 

What I thought

I think this is one of my favourite themes visible in Something Strange and Deadly. It is so funny because when I was reading this book for the first time this is a quote that stood out to me and I wrote it down in my little black notebook that holds all my favourite quotes. During IB classes at school, I was taught that every book holds some sentences that immediately reveal a theme that’s relevant throughout the entire book, when that quote I remember realizing that this was one of them.

In Eleanor’s case I don’t really think it’s important whether Eleanor behaves as if she has a choice or not, I think it’s more about realizing whether she has a choice or not. In the beginning of the book she in some ways doesn’t realize that she has a choice, but in other ways she does! She mostly behaves as is expected of her, but by making the decision to save her brother, who she believes is in real danger, she doesn’t and does make a choice. She maybe doesn’t realize that she made the choice to go against what is expected of her, but she very obviously does.

Throughout the book, starting with Jie pointing it out to her,  I think Eleanor realizes that she has a choice more and more. She doesn’t really act on it yet but there is some kind of realization that sets in and she’s slowly coming to terms with it. Nearing the end, she does realize that she has a choice. She decided to help the Spirit Hunters.  AND she clearly makes the choice not to join them and to stay and take care of her mother. She grows so much in that sense throughout the entire book! She knows that she could have joined them but decides not to. It is her choice and she decides by herself. In that sense, what Jie said can be seen as a turning point in Something Strange and Deadly.

For the other characters, it differs per character. The Spirit Hunters definitely behave as though they have a choice, they choose to be there and help. I do believe they kind of feel obliged but they very clearly realize the options they have. As for Clarence, he does what is expected of him. You’d think that his wealth would make him think that he has lots of choices and options, but he does exactly the opposite. He follows in his fathers foot steps, thinking he doesn’t have a choice. He actually literally says so.

You don’t understand.” He tipped his chin up and stared down his nose at me. “I must carry on my father’s dream. It is the duty – and burden- of sons.”

While Eleanor slowly starts to realize she does have a choice, it seems as if Clarence does the exact opposite! It’s kind of twisted in a sense…

So peeps, that’s it! This was my last answer to the last discussion question! I hope you’ve enjoyed this just as much as I did! And while you’re at it, check out Susan Dennards Pinterest board, she collected a bunch of images that evoke the vibe of the series, the characters, the story–everything!

Oh! and don’t forget to aim for the knees!