1. In the opening chapters, Nere exhibits physical limitations on land. What are those limitations? How do those limitations affect how Nere views herself? What physical strengths and mental skills does Nere possess? How do Nere’s physical strengths and weaknesses shape your initial view of Nere?
2. What clues does the author give you that the setting of The Neptune Project is very different from the United States of today? Find a specific example in the text. What mood is the author creating?
3. Why do you think Cam is willing to help rescue the smugglers? Why might Nere be willing to help? Given the circumstances, would you? Why or why not?
4. In Chapter 3, Nere says she wishes she and her mother weren’t so awkward together. How is Nere and Gillian’s relationship depicted as awkward?
5. How will the government edict impact Nere’s life?
6. How do Nere, Lena and Robry each react to the knowledge that they have been genetically modified?
7. Do you think Gillian was right to keep the project a secret from Nere? Do you sympathize with Nere’s anger toward her mother?
1. Describe Nere’s relationship with the dolphins. Do any of the dolphins provide emotional support to Nere as well as physical protection?
2. What is Nere’s initial impression of Dai and how does that impression change or deepen over time?
3. Why is there tension between Nere and Kyel? How would you describe Kyel’s leadership style? Do you think Kyel is a good leader?
4. Which characters are the strongest telepaths? Which characters are the weakest telepaths? Nere’s telepathy is so strong she can break through other people’s mental shields and read their thoughts. So can Dai. Do you think this is a positive or negative ability? If you could be telepathic, would you? Why or why not?
5. Reread the exchange between Nere and Dai on pages 120-121. What is Dai’s attitude toward the dolphins and the ocean? What is Nere’s? Whom do you agree with?
6. Why do you think Nere finds Tobin calming to be around? Why is Dai so unsettling to Nere?
7. What qualities does Nere appreciate about Thom? About Tobin? Why is Nere glad they met up with Thom and Tobin?
8. On page 164, Tobin says to Nere, “You and Dai, it’s like you’ve lived in the sea all your life. Most of us are scared out of our minds, but you look like you were meant to be here.” What do you think about Tobin’s observation?
9. At the end of Chapter 22, there is a debate over whether or not the Neptune kids should risk burying Sara on land. On page 166, Robry says, “I think we’re really arguing about how we’re going to live down here.” What does Robry mean by this? Do you think there are certain norms and rules a group of people must abide by? If so, what are they? Is marking the passing of human life one of them?
10. When Nere goes ashore to bury Sara, she must face the truth that she will never be at home on land again. How does this realization impact her? How does this raise the stakes?
11. Before her life in the ocean, Nere felt invisible. Now she begins to feel important to the group. How does that make her feel?
12. What is the mission of the Neptune Project?
13. In Chapter 26, Nere compares the fanatical light in Kyel’s eyes to the way Gillian once looked talking about the Neptune Project. What does it mean to be fanatical about something? What was Gillian fanatical about? What is Kyel fanatical about? What are the pros and cons of fanaticism?
14. Dai tells Nere that she can ask him five questions about himself. If you could ask questions of one of the characters in The Neptune Project, whom would it be? What five questions would you ask?
15. James refers to himself as a “flawed prototype.” How does his failed Neptune transformation isolate him from others? How does his ability to be a “controller” isolate him further?
16. Why do you think Nere is so reluctant to become the leader of the group? Why does she finally accept that position? What qualities make her a good leader?
17. When Kyel is dying, he says to Nere, “I wanted to fight the Western Collective until the day I died. Now that’s here and everything I did and all the friends I lost, we didn’t change anything. Maybe the best way to beat them is to survive and build something more free and fair in the sea.” Do you agree or disagree with Kyel’s statement? Can you think of a time in your own life or in history when this was true?
1. Give an example of a time when Nere feels the weight of being the leader.
2. Would you allow Penn to stay with the group? How would you vote? Why?
3. Do you think the survival of the group is more important than an individual’s particular desire or need? What qualities make someone a valuable member? What qualities are undesirable?
4. The dolphins play a key role in the survival of the Neptune Project kids. Throughout the book, the dolphins show themselves to be highly intelligent animals. Do you think dolphins are capable of thinking? Do you think your pet thinks? Are animals of higher intelligence of more value? Why do you feel that way?
5. In Chapter 32, Lena reveals to Nere why she stopped being Nere’s friend. In light of this new information, how does Nere feel about Lena? Does this insight change your view of Lena’s attitude and behavior earlier in the book?
6. In addition to the external conflicts Nere faces, she also battles internal conflicts. What do you think those conflicts are? Give an example of Nere overcoming an internal conflict.
7. What clues does the author give you that Dai might have a secret he is not sharing? How does that feeling build in Chapter 39?
8. In Chapter 40, Nere and the others encounter Wasp who says she and her mutant gang are not afraid of dying. How does this encounter change the mood? How does one deal with an antagonist who claims to have no fear of death?
9. Why do you think Dai deceived the group? Do you find him a sympathetic character or do you also feel betrayed by his actions?
10. When Nere is reunited with her father, he says, “I’m glad you’re finally here, but I think my little girl has grown up a great deal in the past two years (page 341). How do you think Nere has grown during the course of this story? Where do you think her story will go next?