Please be aware that this discussion guide may contain spoilers!
Critique Matt's relationship with Anna. Though Matt comes across as the stronger and more independent of the two for much of the story, his need for Anna is evident. Which of the two seems to rely on their relationship more?
When Anna leaves Matt's apartment after staying there for the night, Matt realizes that he is more than just lonely. "Sitting in my messy apartment, awash in the television's purple light, I knew for sure that something was missing--certainly Anna, but also something larger that her presence and renewed absence had simply alerted me to." Matt continues to allude to something being missing throughout the novel. What is missing from Matt's life?
From the start of Anna's involvement with Imperium Luminis, Matt is skeptical of the group. We learn later that Matt has doubts about his own religious faith. Though Matt sees himself as someone that can resist the power of religious groups does he have his own weaknesses?
When asked about his opinion of Imperium Luminis, Mr. Kelly tells Matt, "I don't know much about Imperium Luminous. They're a pretty extreme group and a lot of people don't support them. But they're a part of the Church and on that level I accept them." What does this say about Mr. Kelly's faith in the Church--and could blind faith be problematic?
When Anna is trying to recruit members for Imperium Luminis she focuses on people that are homeless or are outcasts. Why does Imperium Luminis concentrate on recruiting weak people?
Discuss the differences and similarities between any organized religion and Empire of Light. How is the Catholic Church similar or different from Empire of Light?
At Mr. Kelly's funeral, Fr. Linus tells Matt about a time when Mr. Kelly talked to him about Matt's struggle with faith. Fr. Linus says, "I reminded him that he had gone through the same process of rejecting the Church before embracing it again. I told him that you were undertaking a search--and that it was a good thing, too, because it's worthless to have faith if you've never had to struggle for it." Throughout the book Matt struggles with his faith. In your opinion, did Matt's struggle give him peace?
The more Matt learns about Imperium Luminis, the more his skepticism of the group wavers. If you were confronted by the same course of events, what would you think? Is Imperium Luminis a cult that operate for their own material gain? Or are they, truly, a benevolent organization?
At the end of the novel Matt decides that he will go find Anna. However, he has not decided if he will join the Light. Do you think Matt will make the decision to join Imperium Luminis?
Unless otherwise stated, this discussion guide is reprinted with the permission of Penguin.
Any page references refer to a USA edition of the book, usually the trade paperback version, and may vary in other editions.
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