The Supernaturalist Chap. 7: Spaaaaaace!

I don’t think there’s any rules that are set in stone when it comes to dividing chapters. As far as I can tell, you should make sure that each chapter ends on a note that will make your readers want to know what happens next, and that’s about it. How long or short each chapter is depends on the author and the story. I wish that Colfer had broken chapter seven up a bit more, though, because the chapter length feels uneven with the rest of the novel so far. For instance, Chapter 1 starts with Cosmo wanting to escape Clarissa Frayne, it ends with him doing just that. It’s nice and contained, and propels the story forward. Chapter 7, on the other hand, begins with Stefan sulking as he and Cosmo make their way home, and ends with the Supernaturalists in space. That’s a pretty big leap. There’s enough room for two or three chapters here by the time this one ends.

Stefan finally tells Cosmo his story, too, and it’s nothing we couldn’t figure out. He and his mother were in an accident and badly injured, he watched the Parasites suck his mother’s life energy away until she died. Stefan, in true Angsty Male Lead fashion, blames himself. There were plenty of hints strewn throughout the previous chapters, and his reveal really only serves to add more details to what we already knew – or, at least, assumed we knew. I like to give characters the benefit of the doubt, though, and hope that they’ll surprise me.

Though I didn’t grant this to Snape after reading Harry Potter and the Half-Blood Prince, which resulted in me feeling stupid when I read Deathly Hallows. And I only cried a little bit!

There’s also Cosmo’s awkward flirting with Mona. One great thing about fiction is that it elevates us, and takes us to places we’ve only imagined. We can live vicariously through the characters we cheer on; their triumphs are our triumphs. Our heroes are dashing and handsome and bold, and everything we’re not. Okay, saying the perfect thing at the perfect time is pretty unrealistic, and that’s why characters need to have flaws. We may want to be like them, but we also have to be able to relate to them.

Which is probably why I found Cosmo’s bungled flirting with Mona so cringe-worthy when I was a teenager, and adorable now.

‘Are you coming in, or are you just going to stand there?’ said Mona, without opening her eyes.

Cosmo tried to speak. Say something clever, he ordered his brain.

It’s not going to happen, replied his brain. You have enough spare cells for one word. Make it a good one. ‘Coffee,’ blurted Csomo. It could have been a lot worse under the circumstances.

It was so relatable to me then, because I only wished that I had the courage to talk to the guy I liked in high school. Because he was cute, and popular, and was in a band, and why would he ever want to hang out with someone like me? So, Cosmo, I applaud you, for taking a shot with a girl who you think is out of your league. However bungling a conversationalist you may be.

Mona stretched like a cat, her wiggling toes peeking out from under the unzipped sleeping bags.

‘Little piggies,’ said Cosmo’s mouth before he could stop it. [. . .]

Mona stared at him. ‘Have you ever had, like, a conversation with another person before?’

The story moves on with the Supernaturalists leaving Satellite City, and we see what the world outside the city, and the Satellite’s footprint – look like. Like the “One World Treaty” mentioned a few chapters ago, there are so many things that make me want to read more about the universe this novel takes place in. We’re never told where, geographically, Satellite City is, but outside of it is desert. The narration implies that this wasn’t here naturally, either. It was somehow man made. How? Global warming, nuclear strike, a massive build up of toxins? What turned a (presumably) habitable area into a desert? I want to know these things. Colfer, write a book explaining the basic history of The Supernaturalist universe, kplzthx.

People from the City are legitimately frightened of going to this apparent wasteland. Cosmo and Mona are curious to see what’s outside of the City, but Ditto is pretty uncomfortable with the whole idea.

Ditto shuddered. ‘This place gives me the creeps. You know they don’t have Satellite TV here? Some houses only have ten or fifteen illegal stations. What do they do all day?’

Now, this is where things start to get weird.

To find the Parasites’ nest, our rag-tag heroes need to find a way to track them, and eventually decide to use the Satellite to do so. It’s not something they can do on the ground, though, so they decide to go to space.

Okay, I can roll with a Satellite controlling everything in the city, invisible creatures sucking the life out of people, and rappelling lawyers. What I have a harder time getting behind is space travel. Even if technically they’re actually not going very far out of the Earth’s atmosphere. As a kid, I didn’t like this part because I didn’t think it fit in very well with the rest of the story.

As an adult, I don’t like this part because none of them is qualified to go to space. A big part of my current job is running a space camp for kids, I’ve met (and been hugged by) a real life astronaut, and I know way more about the International Space Station than any twentysomething with a non-STEM degree should know. In other words, I’m a space nerd. Always have been.

So, even though it’s the future and a lot of technology has changed, I’m still calling shenanigans on the space adventure.

First of all, there’s the preflight check. Mona goes through a checklist to determine if the small ship they’ll be using is safe to fly in. Which made perfect sense to me the first time I read this. Mechanic works on engines, therefore mechanic can figure out all engines.

I may not be handy, but I can still figure out basic car stuff: adding various fluids, changing wipers, fixing a flat. But those skills don’t translate to a spaceship. If the “low air pressure” came on in my car, I know exactly what to do. If it came on in the space shuttle, I wouldn’t have a clue what to do, and we would all probably die. It really bothers me that Mona, who’s most likely never worked on a spacecraft of any kind, has enough mechanical expertise to do a prelaunch check on the HALO (high-altitude low-orbit spacecraft) they’ll be using, instead of, say, the guy who actually owns it. I’m pretty sure engine work on cars, no matter how souped-up they may be, doesn’t translate to engine work on spaceships.

Of course, with so much depending on the Satellite, there are plenty of small spacecraft traveling up to it, owned by private companies. The way it’s written, it sounds like going up to the Satellite is just a regular day at the office, even if you’re not one of the “disc jockeys” who are responsible to maintain it.

But the other thing that bothered me about this foray outside the atmosphere is a throwaway line about space suits. It turns out Stefan can’t fit in the one usable suit on board, but Mona chimes in that space suits are one-size-fits-all.

Like Musica’s magical sobriety in Rave Master 2, this one line made we want to do a table flip. Because space suits are not one size fits all, and every. individual. astronaut. gets a suit fitted personally to them. This is how space works.

I think most people would give this a by, but I can’t, and the only reason for that is because I know way too much about space travel as it works right now. There’s plenty to like about this chapter, but this is one thing that I don’t.

On the plus side, we see more and more of Cosmo’s emerging personality. He’s only been with the group for a few days, and as action-packed as they were, he’s still a bit of an outsider. This is the chapter where he seals the deal, by volunteering to put on the suit that doesn’t fit Stefan and going out into space to get onboard the Satellite and use a panel that will sweep the city for energy leaks. The highest concentration of those energy leaks is where the Parasites will be drawn to, therefore, their nest. When something goes wrong with the Satellite, he ends up getting launched into space, and survives only by getting incredibly lucky. If running around on rooftops and learning Stefan’s story didn’t make him a full-fledged member of the group, this certainly did.

Cosmo’s grown from a kid with no idea about his future beyond Clarissa Frayne, and not much of a character himself, to someone pretty gutsy, and loyal to the people who took him in. So much so that he risks his life for their mission. Congratulations, Cosmo, you’re finally figuring out how to be a person, just like we both wanted.