Eoin Colfer’s The Supernaturalist

Let me start by saying that this was one book that I was really looking forward to reading.

The Supernaturalist, by Eoin Colfer is a fast-read. And for me, that was its redeeming feature. Don’t get me wrong, I just about like the book. But if it was longer than what it is I would have definitely given up midway and never bothered to return to it. Here’s why – I was expecting Eoin Colfer’s genius to shine through this one, but it kind of didn’t. And no, it’s not because I am a twenty something trying to read a kid’s/teen’s book. Give me an Artemis Fowl book any day, and I will still read it again. Happily.

The Supernaturalist is a fantasy children’s/teen novel that starts off with a young boy who has supernatural powers and needs the guidance of others (a team) to fight the bad guys. Where Artemis Fowl was a privileged young boy, the protagonist of this story, Cosmo Hill is an orphan, whose only privilege is to be a guinea pig on whom the orphanage conducts illegal experiments. His struggle to escape, the circumstances he later find himself in, and the people he meets are neatly wrapped in a strong storyline.

The book transports us to a world that is a few (or more, may be) years from now, where the environment is falling apart and nothing is the way it was. A world where a thinning ozone layer, extinct whales, red and purple colour smog and storage space shortage are new everyday problems that we get to see. Colfer gives a glimpse into what things could be like for us, a few years down the line.  

Anyway, the storyline is what makes up for the lackadaisical characters in The Supernaturalist. This is my main gripe with the book. It felt like all the characters, except perhaps Ditto, could have been fleshed out more, considering the fact that this book does not seem to be a part of a series, followed by a book that delves deeper into the characters. What I knew about Cosmo Hill at the beginning of the book was almost exactly what I knew when I flipped the last page (give or take a couple of revelations that he has when the story unfolds). And this is not okay for a character that is the protagonist of the story. It seemed like only the surface of the characters (minus Ditto) has been scratched.  

What I also felt disappointed about when reading this book is that the one thing I was looking forward to (in abundance) – Colfer’s sense of humor that has always had my face hurting from all the smiling (if not laughing) – was missing. It was scattered around like crumbs – blink and you might miss it. And this, I was not prepared for. All-in-all, I’d give the book three stars – 1 for it being a fast read and 2 for the story line.


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