Questions for Discussion

  1. Did you find Concrete Park surprised you with where the story went? How?
  2. The young human exiles of “Scare City” seem to be largely non-white. Why do you think this is?
  3. Isaac is not a perfect man, or even, it seems, a very good one. Does this hurt your ability to identify with him, or does it help? How do the authors get you to care about Isaac?
  4. Isaac seems to believe he is guilty of his sister’s death. Do you agree?
  5. The narrative point of view of the book changes abruptly, from that of Isaac on Earth to that of Luca on the planet Oasis. Then it changes again, and we see the world from Silas’s point of view. The point of view will change several times more. Did you find this confusing? Did it enhance the story for you? How?
  6. We aren’t told much about Isaac’s past before he’s plunged into the adventure of this story, nor do we learn much about Luca’s background before she came to Oasis. We don’t know the background of point-of-view character Monkfish or of Silas. Why do you think the authors would choose to tell their story this way? What do you imagine these characters’ past lives were like?
  7. From what we do learn of Luca’s background, as a slave in the mines of Oasis, and after, she is a survivor. These experiences have left a strong streak of self-loathing in her. Does this make her more of a hero or less of one?
  8. Silas seems to be cut out for a traditional “bad guy” role. Does it help or hurt this role in the story if you are privy to his thoughts?
  9. “Scare City” is an exotic place on a distant planet, yet it has many echoes of Earth. How is it similar to big cities on Earth? How is it different?
  10. Aside from the police who arrest Isaac in Los Angeles, and the robot police Isaac sees in his dream, there is very little in the way of law enforcement visible in this story, not to mention government. What does this suggest to you?
  11. The gangs of Scare City, such as Luca’s M-80s or The Potato King’s gang, seem to be made up of different ethnicities within each gang. Does this seem realistic to you?
  12. How do the authors handle the passage of time in the book? Isaac is on a billion-mile space journey, Luca is running for her life over a matter of minutes one hot morning in Scare City, yet their two stories converge and they meet on the very last page. Is this confusing or clever?
  13. The situation on Oasis in some ways mirrors that on Earth – too many people, not enough food or resources to go around. Did you notice any other parallels?
  14. The character of Chavez seems paradoxical. He leads Scare City’s biggest gang, Gigante, yet he preaches peace on the radio. Does this make him hypocritcal? A fraud? Or can he do both?
  15. Does the map help you to “see” the story more clearly? How about the glossary?
  16. Monkfish the shapeshifter can see Lena, and obviously, Luca can. How about the other characters in the book? Can they see Lena? Why, or why not?
  17. Does Concrete Park paint a picture of a future that is optimistic or pessimistic?
  18. Though this is a “science-fiction” story, there is relatively little advanced technology on display. What does this suggest to you?
  19. Did you notice the absence of children in this strange new world? What do you think that suggests?
  20. Where would you like to see this story go from here?

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