Wild Ride Reader’s Guide

After writing about sisterhood and goddesses with Anne and Lani, I went back to writing with Bob and we wrote about family and demons. Really the same thing, except the soundtrack was full of John Hiatt this time, thus the question headings.

  1. Child of the Wild Blue Yonder: Mab is an unconventional heroine: nearing forty, not particularly attractive, remote, and absorbed in her work. Did you like her? Why or why not? Did you find her reluctance to change believable or annoying? Was her transformation over the course of the story satisfying? Could you connect to her as a heroine even though she was, frankly, weird?
  2. Master of Disaster: Ethan is a classic wounded warrior romance hero, but he’s unconventional in every other way, including his inability to find his softer side (he doesn’t have one). Even though he has important relationships with his mother, Mab, and Weaver, he never gives a big emotional speech or has a come-to-realize moment. Did this make him more interesting/satisfying/successful as the hero of the story or less? What were the elements that made him attractive (or not) to you?
  3. Something Wild: Do you think the paranormal elements were necessary in this book? Could Mab and Ethan have made the journeys necessary for their characters’ growth without discovering their nightmares were real? Does the idea that they were fighting both personal and real demons add depth to the book? In other words, does the paranormal add to or detract from the story?
  4. Sometime [and Place] Other Than Now: How important was the amusement park setting to this novel? Would it have been as effective set in a different place (museum, small town, college, etc.)? Why or why not? Did the long back story—mythology, history of the park, history of the protagonists’ parents—add to or detract from the story? In short, how did the setting—time and place–work for you?
  5. It Hasn’t Happened Yet: Romance novel convention says the first two characters the reader meets will begin a romance. Wild Ride’s first two characters are Mab and Ethan, and it’s not happening. Were there enough clues that they weren’t going to be together to keep you from being disappointed? Do you feel the relationship they established was the right one for them? Or are you singing “It hasn’t happened yet” and hoping that they end up together in the time after the book ends; that is, did the fact that they never became lovers spoil the story for you?
  6. Uncommon Connection: Ethan is a taciturn man of action. In many romances, that kind of hero is civilized and softened by a womanly heroine. Weaver is not that heroine. Did their unconventional romance work for you? What were the moments in the story that convinced you that they would or wouldn’t make it as a couple?
  7. You Must Go: Mab has problems connecting with anything but her work, and when she does finally fall for a man, he turns out to be a demon. (Well, we’ve all been there.) Do you see her romance with Joe as a failure or a success? Would you have preferred she ended up with him, or was it right and satisfying that she left him?
  8. What Love Can Do: Mab’s second romance is beginning as the book ends, but she’s had a relationship of a sort with Oliver from the beginning, even before she knew his name. Did you see their romantic relationship coming? Do you think their relationship will last? What moments in the book make you think so (or not)? How important was her first love affair in the making of this relationship? Would it matter if this romance didn’t last; that is, do you think Mab has come to a good place at the end of the novel because of what she’s learned about what love can do, whether or not she ends up in a relationship?
  9. Perfectly Good Guitar: There are many recurring images/ideas/events in Wild Ride (dragons, ice cream, body armor/canvas coat and miner’s hat, etc. although no guitars). What were the motifs you noticed and how did they add depth to the story? Did some of them become annoying because of the repetition or did you enjoy the rhythms they created?
  10. Thing Called Love: Speaking of motifs, Wild Ride is lousy with mothers: good mothers, crazy mothers, guilty mothers, manipulative mothers, expectant mothers. In particular, how does the gradual accumulation of information about the lives, goals, and motives of Glenda, Vanth, Mab, and Mab’s mother contribute to the impact of the story?
  11. Is Anybody There?: At the beginning of the novel, Mab and Ethan are alone and prefer it that way, the Guardia are falling apart, the demons are imprisoned, and Drunk Dave is stumbling alone in the dark. At the climax, they’re all in one place, clearly divided between Team Good and Team Bad, in a clash of communities. In that sense, Wild Ride is about team-building or community-building or family-building (pick the one that works for you), the movement from isolation to connection. Do you think this theme is an effective one? Can you cite scenes/incidents/moments that strengthened or weakened the book because of this emphasis in the story? Did this theme have particular resonance for you?
  12. Have a Little Faith in Me: This is a story that begins with the idea that good and evil are absolutes, no gray areas, and that evil must be eradicated or at least permanently contained. By the end of the book, there are evil humans (Ursula, Skinny, and Quentin, for example, not to mention Ray) and sort-of-good demons (Fun and Beemer). Did this softening of the absolute weaken the book or make it stronger? Do you agree with the book’s assertion that hanging out with demons/giving in to their demons makes people turn toward evil while hanging out with people/connecting to others makes demons more likely to behave humanely? That is, were the fates suffered by Ursula, Quentin, Skinny, and Ray justified? Should Mab and Ethan and the rest trust Fun and Beemer and possibly Vanth now? How does this connect with the theme of community/family that runs through out the book?
  13. Book Lovers: Did the ending work for you? Did it pull together everything discussed in the questions above? Did it give a satisfactory resolution to the adventure plot, the romance plot, and all the subplots? What makes a good ending to a story?