The Supernaturalist


Author: Eoin Colfer

Publication: 2005, Disney-Hyperion

Pages: 272

Overall Rating: bth_4-star-rating_zps38e772a0[1]

Rating for Action: bth_4-star-rating_zps38e772a0[1]

Quantity of Action: bth_4-star-rating_zps38e772a0[1]

Age Category: 9-12

Brief Summary: Cosmo Hill is a no sponsor – an orphan at the Clarissa Frayne Institute for Parentally Challenged Boys in Satellite City. He spends his days being sent to test products – from television commercials to the latest medicines and gene therapies – for whichever company will pay Clarissa Frayne the most money. The average life expectancy for a Clarissa Frayne lab rat is 15 years. Cosmo knows his number is almost up, and is on the lookout for his chance to escape. When it comes, it almost costs Cosmo his life – but the near death experience triggers a sort of second sight. Cosmo is now able to see the Parasites – blue energy creatures that drain the life force from injured and dying people. And it also brings him into contact with The Supernaturalists – a vigilante group of teens bent on eradicating the Parasites. Cosmo finally has a real home and a family – but it’s one that comes with a price. Life with The Supernaturalists is a daily battle for survival. And as the number of Parasites continues to explode, each day is more dangerous than the last.

Age of Main Character: 14

What I Liked the Most: Colfer has added some wonderful touches to his dystopian future. One of the best was the combat lawyers and paralegals. Lawsuits are such a huge problem in Satellite City that teams of highly trained combat lawyers are deployed to every crime scene and accident site. They’re faster and more efficient than the police. But worst of all are the paralegals. They’re only sent out in the most dire circumstances – when companies want a problem taken care of, permanently. They rappel down, armed to the teeth, letting everyone in the vicinity know that they have 10 seconds to surrender or they will be ‘sanctioned’ – and believe me, you do not want to be sanctioned by one of Colfer’s paralegals.

Second only to the paralegals is Ditto – the Bartoli baby. He’s a product of gene splicing. A highly intelligent, 28 year old trauma surgeon with the body of a six year old. His condition is a great source of humor, and I loved the image of the beer swigging, trash talking man with the body of a kindergartener.

What I Liked the Least: There’s not a lot of character growth taking place for Cosmo. He ends the story part of a family, true. But as a person, he doesn’t grow or change all that much over the course of the book. Nor does he learn anything that leads to some fundamental change in his character. Unfortunately, some of the other characters do grow, and that leads to a bit of confusion as there were times when it felt like Stefan, the leader of the Supernaturalists, was more of a main character than Cosmo.

This is a book you need to approach with the right frame of mind. Most dystopian novels are dark in the extreme and the future world they envision is a desperate place. But Colfer loves to take things that extra step. So his dystopian Satellite City may be dark, but he takes it to such an extreme that it becomes humorous. I personally enjoyed this, but you need to approach the book with a clear understanding of what he’s trying to do. In other words, don’t take it too seriously.

How Good was the Action? It’s a lot of fun in a swashbuckling way. There’s plenty of action, and Colfer does a nice job of blending the blow-by-blow detail with sweeping overviews and fitting in enough emotion to keep things exciting. The fact that all the weapons are non-lethal – that people are going to get slimed or wrapped instead of maimed or killed – does remove some of the tension, but that’s not a bad thing at all. As with the humor, so long as you go into it expecting the fun, swashbuckling action that Colfer supplies in droves, you’ll be well pleased.

How Engaging was the Story? This was a fun read – intelligent, cool, and humorous. I definitely wanted to know what was going to happen, and Colfer tosses in just enough wild plot twists to keep you guessing right up to the climax.

Overall Assessment: A cool and engaging dystopian novel for tweens. Part Blade Runner, part Ghost Busters, you’ll find plenty to laugh at and enjoy as the novel rushes along at a breakneck pace.

Profanity: None

Sex: None

Violence: Modest. A couple of people get shot, but most of the fights take place with non-lethal weapons. The Supernaturalists’ rods can shoot everything from an energy charge to slimy gumballs or their favorite, cellophane wrap. When a person gets wrapped, they’re hit with a burst of microbes that quickly wrap their body in breathable cellophane – trapping them until they’re dipped in an acid vat to strip away the microbes.

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