Thin Air by Michelle Paver - discussion questions

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It is 1935, and young medic Stephen Pearce travels to India to join an expedition with his brother, Kits. The elite team of five will climb Kangchenjunga, the world’s third highest mountain and one of mountaineering’s biggest killers. No one has scaled it before, and they are, quite literally, following in the footsteps of one of the most famous mountain disasters of all time – the 1906 Lyell Expedition. Five men lost their lives back then, overcome by the atrocious weather, misfortune and ‘mountain sickness’ at such high altitudes.

As the team prepares for the epic climb, Pearce’s unease about the expedition deepens. A survivor of the 1906 expedition, Charles Tennant, warns him off, hinting of dark things ahead. But Pearce is determined to press on and complete something that he has dreamed off his entire life. As they climb higher and higher, and the air becomes thinner, his unease turns to dread. Macabre mementoes of the earlier climbers turn up on the trail. Stephen starts to suspect that Tennant’s account of the tragedy may not have been the full story. What he doesn’t know is that while five men lost their lives on the mountain, only four were laid to rest…

Our Radio 2 panel members loved Thin Air. Below are some of their reviews:

“This book was a joy to read. The story flowed well and the characters were believably real. I was taken along as the story unfolded and developed a real sympathy for Stephen.”

“Part ghost story, part thriller, Stephen must grapple with the effects of altitude sickness and ghostly visions of a haunted figure. Wonderfully written and researched the novel is atmospheric and chilling in its descriptions. It builds slowly to a revealing climatic ending. A very satisfying read.”

Download the accompanying discussion questions and then leave a review in our book reviews section.

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