TALKING POINTS on the Jimmy Coates books

The Jimmy Coates books are most suitable for years 5, 6, 7 and 8 but they’re also enjoyed by a lot of older teens (and even quite a few teachers).

Whatever age group you’re working with, if you’re reading parts of the Jimmy Coates series in class, here are some questions you can use to kick-start some discussion. Most of these questions you can still have a go at even if you haven’t finished a whole Jimmy Coates book yet.

Finally, remember that if there are questions you absolutely must have a definitive answer to (like the last 3), you can always email the author: joe@joecraig.co.uk

 Here we go:

- If we knew how people would develop by looking at their genes and DNA, how would that change society? Do you think that might happen one day?

- What techniques does the author use at the beginning of the story to grip you and keep you reading?

- Do you think the story would make a good film? How would you change the story if you were adapting it for the screen?

- Are Jimmy’s abilities a benefit or a problem? Would you like to find out similar things about yourself?

- Make two lists: one with the characters Jimmy can trust, one with the characters Jimmy can’t trust.

If Jimmy made those lists, how would they be different? How would Jimmy’s lists change throughout the story?

- How much control does Jimmy have over his actions? Is that different from the rest of us? Does he have free will?

- When is the series set?

- How much time passes in the story between each book?

- Have you been to any of the real-life locations mentioned in the books? What difference do you think it makes to the books that the locations are all real places? (Check out the videos on youtube of Joe Craig visiting some of the locations.)

- Ares Hollingdale, the prime minister, tries to convince Jimmy that when you’re running a country, you shouldn’t let people vote because they’re not experts in how to run a country. Instead, he thinks you should rely on the opinions of a few experts, just as you would if you were building something like a ship.

Do you think he’s right? Why? Or why not?

- Ares Hollingdale calls his system ‘Neo-democracy’. It’s a system where nobody votes and the nation’s leaders do what they think is best. Do you think the author based this on any real-life political situations from around the world, or even throughout history?

And how is the country better or worse off because of this system?

- What history do you think there is between the adult characters? What events that influence the story took place before the book begins?

- Do you think Jimmy is powerful? Is Ares Hollingdale? Is Jimmy’s father? What about Paduk and Miss Bennett? Where do you think the real power lies?

- Who are the most important female characters in the Jimmy Coates books? Do you think they are featured more or less than the female characters in other action books? What effect do you think this has?

- What are the differences and similarities between the Jimmy Coates books and other action-thrillers you’ve read? Do you think they influenced each other?

- Do you think it’s possible to guess the author’s own political views from the Jimmy Coates books?

- How do you think the author came up with the name ‘NJ7’?