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City of the Beasts

Reading Discussion Guides

City of the Beasts by Isabel Allende

About the Book

In the midst of his mother’s struggle with cancer, fifteen-year-old Alexander Cold has the opportunity to take the trip of a lifetime. Accompanying his fearless grandmother, a magazine reporter for International Geographic, Alexander sets off on an expedition to the remote world of the Amazon. On this mission he meets Nadia, the young daughter of their local guide and together they begin a magical and mystical adventure.

About the Author

Isabel Allende was born in Peru and raised in Chile. She is the author of these international best-sellers for adult readers: Portrait in Sepia, Daughter of Fortune, The Infinite Plan, Eva Luna, Of Love and Shadows, and The House of the Spirits, the short story collection The Stories of Eva Luna, the memoir Paula, and Aphrodite: A Memoir of the Senses. Her books have been translated into more than twenty-seven languages and have become bestsellers across four continents. In 2004 she was inducted into the American Academy of Arts and Letters. Isabel Allende lives in California.

Guide provided by Harper Collins.

Discussion Questions

  • Alexander goes into a destructive rage after witnessing his father chopping off his mother’s hair. How does this reaction help the reader understand the pain that he is experiencing? How do his reactions to his mother’s illness compare to those of his sisters?
  • Describe the relationship between Alexander and his grandmother. How is this relationship different from the typical relationship between a grandmother and her grandson? How does their relationship change?
  • What are totemic animals? Describe the circumstances of how Alexander and Nadia’s totemic animals are revealed to them.
  • How do Alexander and Nadia’s strengths and weaknesses compliment one another?
  • How does Dr. Omayra Torres deceive the other members of the group? How are her motives ironic?
  • What is the symbolism of the crystal eggs and the water of health? Why do Nadia and Alexander risk their lives for these things? What do they give up in order to attain them?
  • How does Ludovic Leblanc’s public image and reputation contrast with his personal actions? How do his opinions about the Indians and the Beast change as the story evolves?
  • Describe the Beasts. What is unique about them? How do they compare to the image that the members of the expedition had projected?
City of the Beasts

City of the Beasts

Isabel Allende
Age Level:
Middle Grade
Fantasy, Fiction