|This article relies largely or entirely upon a single source. (November 2013)|
||This article's plot summary may be too long or excessively detailed. (November 2013)|
The European cover
|Media type||Print (Softcover)|
|ISBN||ISBN 0-14-131741-8 & ISBN 0-439-69988-6|
|Followed by||The Supernaturalist 2|
The Supernaturalist, by Eoin Colfer (author of the Artemis Fowl series) is a science-fiction novel (influenced in many ways by film noir and other predecessors of the cyberpunk science fiction movement, resulting in what could be termed a cyberpunk novel). Colfer has outlined plans for a sequel, The Supernaturalist 2.
The Supernaturalist takes place in Satellite City, a large city in an unspecified location in the Northern Hemisphere, in the third millennium. Much of Satellite City is controlled by the Satellite, owned by Myishi Corporation. By the time of the novel, however, the Satellite is losing links to the surface, causing disasters that range from mild to catastrophic.
The book opens with an introduction to Cosmo Hill, an orphan at the Clarissa Frayne Institute for Parentally Challenged Boys. At the Institute, the boys are used as human guinea pigs for various products. However, on a trip back from a record company, the truck the boys are in crashes. Cosmo and a friend of his named Ziplock manage to escape the wreckage, but are pursued by a warden from the Institute. The chase takes them to the rooftops, where Cosmo and Ziplock fall into a wrecked generator. Ziplock is electrocuted but Cosmo survives, albeit with multiple critical injuries, including several broken bones and a heart which begins to shut down. He begins seeing small blue creatures around him. When one lands on his chest and begins sucking his life out, it gets shot by a teenager, who has two other people with him. Although they want to leave him, Cosmo begs them not to leave him to the creatures. The group calls him a "Spotter" and agree to take him with them before he passes out.
Cosmo wakes up in a warehouse to find his injuries being mended, including a cast on his leg and a steel plate in his head to heal his fractured skull. One of the group, a teenage Latina girl and ex-mechanic named Mona Vasquez, introduces herself, and tells Cosmo about the other two: Stefan Bashkir, another teen, used to be a cop before an accident killed his mother and almost killed him, and Lucien Bonn, called Ditto due to his habit of repeating what people say, had gene-splicing experiments performed on him as a baby to produce a "super-human"; however, these experiments did nothing except stunt his growth, making Ditto appear six in spite of him being twenty-eight. Mona reveals that the creatures, called Parasites, can only be seen after near-death experiences; Stefan can see them from his accident as a policeman, Mona can see them from a car crash in which Stefan saved her after her gang left her for dead, and Ditto can see that as a result of the gene-splicing experiments. Their group, the eponymous Supernaturalists, is attempting to kill as many Parasites in Satellite City as possible, to save people from having their life sucked out by the Parasites.
At first, Cosmo is left alone to recuperate. However, the Supernaturalists come home one night with Mona having seizures after getting hit by a poisoned dart, and Cosmo saves her; he had tested those poisoned darts at the orphanage, and knows the correct cure. After this, Cosmo is accepted into the gang and starts going Parasite-blasting with them.
One night, the Supernaturalists stalk out a drag race, as the potential for fatal crashes, and Parasites, is large. However, one of the cars is a prototype stolen from Myishi Corporation, who track it down and send a squad of paralegals ("hit lawyers") to take it back. In the following firefight, Cosmo and Stefan are captured by Myishi. They are taken to Ellen Faustino, the president of Myishi, who reveals herself to be a Spotter. She says that energy discharged by the Parasites is forcing the Satellite into an incorrect orbit and causing it to fall out of the sky. She also reveals that the method the Supernaturalists are using to kill the Parasites is only causing them to reproduce faster, increasing the problem with the Satellite. After some discussion, she reveals that she has a plan to kill the Parasites: detonate an electrical bomb in the Parasite hive that contaminates them and eventually kills them. However, she does not know where the hive is, and sets the Supernaturalists to find the hive.
After several dead ends, Cosmo hits upon the idea to use the Satellite to scan for the Parasite hive. Due to an extremely long wait time to get a space on the Satellite, they take an illegal spaceship up to do the scan themselves and find that the hive is under Clarissa Frayne. Cosmo and Stefan take the electric bomb under the orphanage and detonate it. Although the bomb doesn't kill any humans, it shorts out Clarissa Frayne, allowing the orphans to leave. Stefan directs them to a friend of his. While Cosmo and Stefan are out, Mona discovers Ditto communicating with a Parasite. When Cosmo, Stefan, and Mona confront him, Ditto claims that Parasites don't take life force, only pain. Not knowing what to believe any more, Stefan orders Ditto to be out by the next day, but Myishi paralegals capture them all that night.
While imprisoned, Faustino reveals to the Supernaturalists that the bomb didn't kill the Parasites,that they do indeed take away pain, not life, and that she captured them to use for her own ends; she's going to kill the Supernaturalists to not leave any loose ends. She also tells Stefan that she caused the accident that killed his mother; it was part of an experiment to create a Spotter. After she leaves, Cosmo head-butts them free, using the steel plate in his head. The group finds Faustino in a lab with Parasites contained beneath the floor, but Stefan gets shot right next to his heart by a sniper hidden in the rafters. Faustino tells them that Parasites can be used to "scrub" energy, and she is using the Parasites to make a clean nuclear reactor to keep the Satellite up; the Satellite wasn't falling because of Parasites, but because it had too many attachments on it. Stefan gets Faustino in a dead man's grip, and when the sniper attempts to shoot him, he lets his knees buckle, causing the bullet to miss him and break the Parasites' containment cell. The Parasites take Stefan's pain from him as he dies, and Cosmo, Mona, and Ditto escape.
The book ends with the rest of the Supernaturalists getting ready to fight unspecified "other supernatural creatures", and the mayor of Satellite City sends Faustino to Antarctica to continue working on a nuclear plant. Also it is hinted that Mona and Cosmo are beginning to become more open with their feelings for each other.
Cosmo Hill – Found on Cosmonaut Hill, from which he was named. He was sent to the Clarissa Frayne Institute for Parentally Challenged Boys. He was almost killed on an escape attempt along with his best friend (Francis "Ziplock" Murphy), but Cosmo was "saved" from the Parasites by the Supernaturalists who at the time still believed that the Parasites fed on life force, and not pain. He was 14 years old when recruited into the group. Although he has no experience as a medic or spotter, he saves Mona Vasquez a number of times.
Stefan Bashkir – Stefan is an eighteen year old of Russian descent with spiky black hair, presumably short. His mother was killed in a car accident, later revealed to be due to a bomb planted on the car by Ellen Faustino. He has the worries of someone much older than he is, despite being so young. He also the leader of the Supernaturalists before he dies, towards the end of the book.
Mona Vasquez – A Latina girl, she is a former member and ex-mechanic of the Sweethearts, a street racing gang. She is 15 years old and the love interest of Cosmo. Although she denies it, Ditto is sure that Mona has feelings for Cosmo as well. She has brown hair and other Latina features, such as dark eyes. She also has a DNA strand tattooed above one eyebrow.
Lucien "Ditto" Bonn – A "Bartoli Baby" being the product of the gene splicing experiments done by a Dr. Bartoli 28 years before the story began. He suffers several mutations because of the experiments, such as arrested physical development (Ditto is 28 years old but appears to be about six). Ditto has "healing hands" (the ability to take the pain from a person or animal's body) and is a spotter. He pointed out to the rest of the Supernaturalists near the book's end that the Parasites actually feed on human pain, not on human life force as thought earlier (Ditto was caught by Mona deliberately cutting his finger and offering the pain to a parasite, proving that he knew this secret all along but never told anyone). He is the medic of the group, and does not fight the Parasites, claiming he is a pacifist. He is the first one to go in the group, since Stefan was the one who created the group.
Ellen Faustino – The evil mastermind who manipulates the Supernaturalists into helping her catch Parasites. Former Instructor at the Police Academy, she is now President of the Development section in Myishi Corp., and was responsible for the death of Stefan's mother.
Splinter – A former Supernaturalist that pre-existed Cosmo. Not much is known about Splinter, and he is never actually shown in the book, and only mentioned in passing. He is used as an example of how spotters can become terrified of their visions of the Parasites. He wears glasses with blue filters that hide the Parasites from his eyes, and he never takes them off.
Miguel – The leader of the Sweethearts gang. He adopted Mona as their mechanic after catching her trying to steal a Sweetheart-owned car.
Ziplock Murphy – Cosmo's friend and fellow No-Sponsor. The Supernaturalists were unable to save him, due to him having been electrocuted when falling off the roof when he and Cosmo escape.
Marshal Redwood – The Marshal who is very strict to Cosmo and all the other no-sponsors. He has cruel tendencies, such as knowingly saying he'd wrap Cosmo and Ziplock when they were on the roof, despite the duo mentioning they would not be able to be taken out of the cellophane for hours.
Places and things
Lightning rods – A mechanical device that can shoot electricity of varying strengths; one such strength is stun. These were used to fight Parasites until they figured out that they actually help the Parasites reproduce.
Extendable bridges – These devices are seemingly flat steel trays that can be hung on the user's back. A cable reel is attached to one end. The other end can be placed on the edge of a building. Once the reel is turned, the end of the tray farthest from the user extends forward, forming a bridge reaching the edge of another building. These extendable mini-bridges are helpful when one has to cross far distances. This does not last long, for it is powered by gas.
Climate – Weather in Satellite City isn't extremely unusual. However, a thick layer of smog covers the city's sky (maybe even the whole world), most likely due to pollution. The smog can change color depending on which chemicals are in the air at the time, or what time of day it is. During sunrise and sunset, the smog is a multitude of colors. When the smog turns red, it would be better to wear a gas mask outside (although it is never mentioned why.) People with allergies suffer when the smog turns purple. However, if one was to look down on the Earth from a celestial point of view it would still be blue.
Due to all the chemicals in the air, the raindrops in Satellite City are much larger than ours, and looking up in a rainstorm can take your eye out, as the pollution in the air causes the water molecules to bond more effectively. The other interesting thing about the weather is that it can change very abruptly. One second it could be raining, then next it is as if someone "Turned off the tap up in heaven", as the book describes it.
Food – Regular everyday food can be found in Satellite City, such as beer and pizza. However, there is also a new fast food craze called the "Pazza". It is simply a calzone filled with pasta shells stuffed with different sauces. This is the perfect food for a busy or traveling person but Ditto has trouble stomaching it. There are also self-heating non-perishable food packs which the Supernaturalists sometimes eat, and military rations that Cosmo ate while he was at Clarissa Frayne that are fully edible – food and packaging both. The institute had tested these meal packs to be used by soldiers in the field. The army rejected them because of lawsuits from soldiers, claiming they caused internal bleeding. The Clarissa Frayne institute bought the surplus and fed them to orphans every day. Even the food trays are made of an "unleavened crispbread" and the bottles of "semi rigid gum".
Myishi H.Q. – A very fancy hi-tech place, home to some main characters like Ellen Faustino. Here is also where the Supernaturalists find out that she is creating a master plan to get the perfectly clean energy source for the satellite from the parasites at the same time as betraying them. Myishi was an antagonist in The Wish List, suggesting both books take place in the same universe.
Transportation – When the no-sponsors get on a Clarissa Frayne truck it is stated that it is a hundred years old because it still uses rubber tires instead of modern plastic treads. It is also known that drivers do not drive vehicles manually, but instead let the satellite direct them to their destination. According to the book, manual drive had become so obsolete that the Clarrisa Frayne driver had trouble driving with the steering wheel. Steering wheels in the book are only used in illegal drag races in the Booshka region and in rural zones outside the city.
It has either been seen that having more than four wheels is superior, or it is simply trendy. Whatever the reason, several "Krom" vehicles were mentioned with more than four wheels. The real piece of notable change from the standardized vehicle design of today is the Myishi Z-12 which is a state-of-the-art car (it is unclear if its nature was racing, or being a luxury sports car). The Myishi Z-12 used nitrous as a main fuel and because nitrous burns so quickly the entire car had been converted into one big fuel tank.
The Supernaturalists use a vehicle which is called the "Pigmobile" because it is made of pig-iron. This reference to pig-iron is also made to Satellite City as the city's nickname is the "Big Pig" due to the abundance of pig-iron.
Communication – In The Supernaturalist, forms of communication appear to be very similar to today's technology, however this impression could be because the Supernaturalists do not have much up-to-date technology. They use standard mobile phones to send texts, in a way that you would expect now. The reader gets the impression that companies use more high-tech forms of communication which are not fully described.
Fuzz plates – Fuzz Plates are the slang term for the large plastic night-vision goggles that the Supernaturalists wear when they go on a mission. They wear these goggles to avoid being caught on camera. The plates block X-rays, therefore their heads show up on cameras as blurs.
In popular culture
- In most book reviews, The Supernaturalist is compared to a Charles Dickens novel and a futuristic movie. According to Bookpage, this book "has the feel of a Dickens novel in a Blade Runner world." According to The Times, the book "reads like The Matrix crossed over with Oliver Twist."
- Phonetix, a communications company based in Chicago from Artemis Fowl: The Eternity Code, is mentioned when Faustino says that "Myishi is going to kick Phonetix's butt next quarter". Phonetix is also mentioned in Artemis Fowl: The Opal Deception, and Artemis Fowl: The Time Paradox.
- In Artemis Fowl: The Arctic Incident, one of Artemis Fowl's aliases is "Stefan Bashkir", a character from The Supernaturalist. Stefan Bashkir is also listed as one of Artemis's aliases on the official Artemis Fowl website.
- In the book, it is mentioned that the previous owner of the company, Myishi, is dead and the name is kept for public recognition. In another of Colfer's books, The Wish List, Myishi is a scientist working in Hell.
- The automoblile company Krom is mentioned in the book Artemis Fowl and the Last Guardian, when it says that, "Fifty percent of the force was currently committed to fighting a huge fire at Koboi Labs, which had been taken over by the Krom automobile company."
In a September 29, 2007 interview, Eoin Colfer released a rough idea for the plot of the sequel, working title, The Supernaturalist 2. When asked about ideas for a Supernaturalist sequel, he answers, "Well, the main idea is, well, at the end of book one, Stefan dies, but, being that they can see supernatural beings, in the second book, Stefan appears to Cosmo and tells him that they're all stuck in Limbo and can't get through to the afterlife, because something terrible is happening there, so it's an environmental thing as usual that's blocking the passageway to ... forever, so they have to take care of that. But at the same time, they've got the corporation, the Myishi Corporation, trying to track them down."
- "Interview with Eoin Colfer". Retrieved May 29, 2010.