Chapter by Chapter features me reading one chapter of the selected book at the time and reviewing it as if I were reviewing an episode of a TV show or an issue of a comic. There will be spoilers if you haven’t read to the point I have, and if you’ve read further I ask that you don’t spoil anything further into the book. Think of it as read-along book club.
Leafing through the book these appear to be really short chapters, so at some point I may end up combining chapters just to get a decent length in. For example, even combining the introduction and first chapter I’m looking at four pages, and only two of them are full. But this Chapter By Chapter, not Chapters By Chapters, so I’m going to try and stick to the formula. On Friday we looked at the basic premise for this book. It’s time to finally see what the Shifters are phasing. Or something like that.
INTRODUCTION AND CH. 1: The Arrivals
I have learned almost nothing.
Look, it’s four pages in, and I don’t know what to expect. I do have some theories as to what’s going on, and I may not be reading this as intended, a curse of the format I guess. But then again, this might be an interesting way to review this. See, we don’t learn a whole lot. Broderick is having things happen with not a lot of explanation. This can be both a positive and a negative. Positive because it keeps readers curious as to what is going on in this particular universe. Negative because at first I thought some descriptions were missing. Let me summarize and theorize over the two scenes to better explain what I’m talking about.
The first scene, the introduction, takes place on the planet T. DAK6, which is an interesting way to name a planet. All we learn about the people of this world is that they don’t care about the day/night cycle even though there does appear to be one. Cut right to two characters, Aura and Claurie. We will learn Aura is some kind of leader, perhaps royalty, while Claurie knows….him? Her? Crede is given a gender right off the bat, a male one, but none of these characters, including the one who enters the conversation without any narration introducing Mortar or what he/she is in relation to Aura or Claurie, either in who they are or where they are. There is no mention of where anyone is. Are they indoors or outdoors? Is someone sitting down or standing or laying down? Where did Mortar come from? I’ll come back to this.
Anyway, they feel Crede leaving, as well as one other they name Hoylt, which Aura is not so happy to see go. They’re willing to let Crede find his own path to enlightenment, whatever that means for these beings, but Hoylt’s leaving was something Mortar says Aura was worried about. However, since these beings have shunned violence they can do nothing but let him/her leave. We also get our only description, that there’s a moment of silence before Aura says to let Hoylt go. Otherwise, no action or emotion has been described by our narrator. I’ll come back to this as well.
The actual chapter starts with, if I’m understanding this correctly, Crede having become water vapor until such time as he rains from the cloud he’s traveling on and into a body of water. I don’t think it’s shapeshifting necessarily but more like choosing the safest form to drop onto the Earth and then taking on what I also assume is a human body. We get a description of his actual perspective of this event, that he feels trapped but for whatever reason this is the path he has chosen to take. We aren’t told anything else. What’s his eye color? What skin color did he choose? Did he also replicate…certain parts I guess you can’t bring up in a young reader book easily? On this one I’m assuming it’s the writer’s attempt to be theatrical. Imagine this scene being filmed. We see a shape, possibly in shadow, rising from the water, not giving us a good look yet because that’s not what the writer (or director in the case of our hypothetical visual production) wants us to focus on. Instead, it’s the fact that being in a body like this is a new experience for him. He and a second being that appears after Crede, mostly likely Hoylt, have different reactions. Crede is excited to have this new body and feel things like the wind against him. Hoylt (again, I’m assuming) comes out after Crede leaves and the narrator notes the lack of smile on his face. Again, no physical description. Possibly when they see a reflective surface for the first time we’ll get one as we’re seeing these events from their perspective rather than our usual semi-omnipresent perspective we the readers tend to have.
So what do I think is going on? As a 43-year-old man I’ve seen a lot more science fiction than the target audience, so here’s what I’m putting together and don’t tell me if I’m right or wrong. I want to be surprised, but I’m hoping the real answer comes out. Maybe the people of T. DAK6 do not have physical bodies. It worked for Star Trek and other science fiction movies and TV shows I could mention. Instead I’m laying odds that they are a incorporeal group body. Perhaps a sort of group mind–not a hive mind, since the three we see “back home” have individual identities. Aura, Claurie, and Mortar (interesting name for a non-violent race) have individual names, thoughts, and perspectives. They are at least aware of who they are, as are Crede and Hoylt as they make conscious decisions to leave the group body. This could be why they aren’t mentioned as doing an action or entering the area. It could be a group thought where you can decide who to listen and “speak” to, a type of telepathy if you will. They are referred to as “extraordinary beings in every sense of the word” by the narrator.
Crede leaves this group form to travel to our happy little planet, and presumably Hoylt is following him for their own purposes. They are capable of taking on physical forms. We see Crede become water droplets (or possibly just one) while both he and Hoylt take on human bodies, like angels and demons in the Bible and other Christian reports and fiction have had them do. Remember back in the review of Archangels The Saga, the Christian comic where angels can assume a physical body when the need arises. Perhaps Crede’s people can also take on a corporeal form at will and for whatever reason he has chosen to do so now. It could be an interesting bit of personal exploration for the next few chapters as Crede discovers the need for food, the restroom (it happened to the Beyonder), and maybe clothes. We still don’t know if our new visitors are naked or if they have the external anatomy of a Ken doll. Perhaps something will be answered in the next chapter?
Next time: The Main Essentials