This article relies largely or entirely on a single source. (November 2013)
Cover of the British edition
|Genre||Science fiction, adventure|
|Publisher||Puffin (UK); Miramax (US)|
|Media type||Print (hardcover), audiobook|
|Pages||290 (UK); 267 (US)|
|ISBN||0141380403 (Puffin hc, 2004)|
|Followed by||To be Announced|
The Supernaturalist is a science fiction novel by Irish author Eoin Colfer. The work was influenced by film noir and other predecessors of the cyberpunk science fiction movement. 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 transporting them crashes. Cosmo and a friend, Frances (aka "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, three figures appear out of nowhere and zap the creature. Although the teens want to leave him, Cosmo begs them to take him with them, pleading to not be left to be eaten by the strange blue baddies. The group labels him a "Spotter" and, after some argument, 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, teenage Latina and ex-mechanic Mona Vasquez, introduces herself, and tells Cosmo about the other two: Stefan Bashkir, another teen, who used to be a cop before an accident killed his mother and almost killed him; and Lucien Bonn, nicknamed Ditto due to his habit of repeating what people say. Bonn 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 his true age of twenty-eight. Mona reveals that the creatures, called Parasites, can only be seen after near-death experiences or severe trauma; 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 them as a result of the gene-splicing experiments. Their group, the eponymous Supernaturalists, attempts to kill as many Parasites in Satellite City as possible, saving people from the life-sucking Parasites.
At first, Cosmo is left alone to recuperate. However, the Supernaturalists come home one night, Mona suffering 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 out 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" by a group of kids 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.
- 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 preexisted Cosmo. Not much is known about Splinter, 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 escaped.
- 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.
The book received a graphic novel adaptation, published July 10, 2012.
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."