Chapter Two – The Light
So the raft floats down mountain steams and – no seriously. Mountain steams. Not mountain streams. Steams. Anyway, from the steams it hits the rivers and on into the ocean. Miraculously, the babies are still alive. Now I’ve already pointed out why this is moronic, but I suppose with a truly incredible slice of luck it could actually work.
This, on the other hand, will not work, regardless of luck:
The boys spent many days on the water. They slept through the first eight days (page 45).
No. Newborn babies need to be fed between eight to twelve times a day. I’m not entirely certain whether they’d die from malnourishment or dehydration first, but they’d be dead before eight days. YouFailBiologyForever, Stouffer.
On the ninth day a couple of deus ex machinas show up called Naddie and Neddie. They introduce themselves as “Spooners from the deep”, despite the fact that newborns don’t understand what they’re saying, because they’re newborns. And no, it isn’t explained what they are. I flipped to the helpful character glossary that Stouffer included in the back of the ground, and it explains that Naddie and Neddie are…Spooners from the deep. That’s helpful.
They’ve been sent. By who? No idea. But they have bottles and they feed the twins and then take off. The twins fall back asleep and sleep for two more days and wake up when a sea cow named Benjamin shows up. Benjamin has a very bad stuttering problem, which occurs even when he talks to himself. Benjamin’s worried because there’s a bad storm coming up, so he tows the raft for awhile with a helpful rope that is randomly attached to the raft for no reason. Then Buddy the barracuda shows up.
“Ya th- thin- think I c- ca- could ge- get- get a li- lil- little he- help here? Got- gotta ge- get this r- r- r- raft ou- outta here for- fore the st- stor- storm c- c- comes,” Benjamin replied (page 48).
All of his dialogue is written that way, and it’s even more frustrating to read than this is.
Porschia the Porpoise shows up next, and they discuss keeping the babies – well ‘bahbies’ as they call them – safe. I wonder why Stouffer went to all the trouble of explaining the nuclear war at the beginning of the book when she was quickly going to leave all sorts of realism behind. It’s obvious that Stouffer is firmly in the Gilbert Morris camp of believing that nuclear fallout will cause mutations that make people look funny and gain random abilities not actually kill them. Or maybe Stouffer’s point is that the radiation gave all these animals the ability to talk.
Stouffer spends a couple pages characterizing all these animals. None of it is very interesting, and it’s all irrelevant, because none of these characters will ever show up again. This entire chapter can be summed up as “Helped by some friendly sea creatures, the raft floated across the ocean, pausing to kidnap some sunlight.”
Oh, right. Yeah, there’s that:
The glass box, filled with the jewels that Lady Catherine had placed between their little bodies, glittered with the sun’s reflection. The gem-stones had somehow absorbed the sunlight and its energy (page 54).
How? One word: radioactive.
The raft goes ashore on Aura, where the Muggles live.
Chapter Three – The Arrival
All the Muggles are watching as a shaft of light comes across the water towards them. Some of them are terrified and hide indoors, others stand and watch the light come closer. The air gets warm and it…well, magic happens.
Like magic, flowers burst into bloom, the tumbleweed shrubberies filled with bright green leaves, and orange honeysuckle blossoms dripped with nectar (page 58).
No. The reappearance of the sun does not instantly heal the nuclear wasteland. Come on, Stouffer. You want the fame that J.K. Rowling has, why not just throw actual magic into the world and call it good, because science is really not cutting it for you.
Peacocks strutted from behind boulders with Muggles seated on their backs (page 58).
A peacock cannot carry someone around. It’s not large enough. It’s not a matter of where it sits. It’s a simple question of weight ratio. A 10-pound bird cannot carry a 45-pound Muggle.
Yur, the oldest Muggle, asks his wife Golda what she thinks is going on. She says she thinks it’s the sun. I don’t know how she even knows what the sun is, or why she thinks a bright light would be the sun, considering that the sun hasn’t been seen in Aura for FIVE HUNDRED YEARS. Then again, I don’t know why all the Muggles aren’t covering their eyes with their hands in agonizing pain because they have never seen actual sunlight before.
Yur is ninety-six, has bowed legs from arthritis, and walks with the support of a cane. But he can “move fairly quickly when he wants to”. Does not compute.
“Golda, I’m gonna go down there and take a closer look for myself,” he said.
“Not without me you old fool,” she reprimanded him (page 61).
Charming, aren’t they?
A group of Muggles follow them down the hill. When they reach the light Yur says that they need to bring the light to the Tower of Time which a giant sundial-like contraption that operates on moonlight. So some Muggles grab some baskets and…well, it isn’t explained what they do, but I guess they grab the jewels and take them up to the tower. Without noticing the babies sitting on either side of the jewels. Yeah.
“How’d they get up there?” Stubby, a five-year-old Muggle boy who asks questions about everything he sees, asked Golda (page 66).
Remember this quote, because it’ll be important later.
Suddenly they hear a noise.
“Did you hear that?” said Pitter to Patter, a twelve-year-old little girl and boy who love each other so very much they never stop holding hands (page 68).
That’s a little creepy.
They run down to the water and there are two babies there! Holy shit!
I don’t know why Stouffer decided to draw them naked, since she specifically referenced them being clothed and wrapped in blankets. Also, is it just me or are these Muggles scary beyond all reason? They have bulbous heads, split upper lips, gravity-defying clothing, and dead soulless eyes.
On the plus side, we are now 1/4th of the way through this book and the plot might finally be starting!
Chapter Four – New Life on Aura
Pitter and Patter pick up the twins:
Patter picked up the other baby and snuggled him behind his loosely fitting overalls bib (page 72).
Yeah. He just stuck a naked baby inside his clothes.
Nothing happens for a few pages, then this:
Life on Aura had been simple and uncomplicated until the babies arrived. The Muggles never had any indication that there could be, or should be, any life beyond the shoreline of Aura to the south, Mirror Mountain to the north, Lemonade Lake and Fuzzy Forest to the east, and Volcano d’rue and the Pool of Pyro to the west (page 75).
Simple and uncomplicated? Sounds like living in a nuclear wasteland where nothing grows and there is no sunlight. Also, those are moronic names.
The twins are given to a Muggle named Nona to raise, and the Muggles start building her a treehouse. Stouffer then brings up some fierce creatures called Greeblies™. They’re giant rats. Totally original and not at all taken from The Princess Bride. Anyway, the Muggles set traps for them and feed them to their pet lion-sized sand dogs, called Nardles™. Why am I bringing this up? Mostly because it was on the copyright page. I don’t think it’s going to affect the story at all.
So, in next to no time at all, the Muggles have built an enormous treehouse with wooden spiral staircases that wrap around the tree trunk, sleeping in giant condor bird nests (built by radioactive condors, I assume) wrapped in cotton blankets (radioactive cotton?).
The staircase railings were wrapped in variegated ivy and blue and white flowering clematis (page 81).
The few remaining adults reading this book after their children fell asleep from boredom scratched their heads and started looking for a dictionary.
We cut forward to Yur and Golda sitting around. Yur’s writing in the Ancient Book of Tales, which is Muggle history and thoroughly unexciting. Golda’s listening to people singing the Muggle-Bye, a lullaby which is two pages long, reprinted in full, and has musical accompaniment in the back of the book. I’m just going to skip it because it’s bland and uninteresting. At the end of the chapter, Yur decides that they need to name the twins.
Chapter Five – What’s in a Name?
Yur’s given their names a lot of thought. Muggles consider names to be very important:
Muggles believe that the characteristics of each child’s name should tell something very special about that child. A symbolic name can result from an event, or a predestined personality trait (page 86).
Something special. I guess that explains Pitter and Patter. And the kid referenced earlier named Stubby? That just sounds mean.
The naming ceremony takes place within the Fuzzy Forest, which I might as well come right out and say it, and I apologize to you all in advance, that name makes me think of pubic hair. Blame Stouffer.
Stouffer spends a few pages describing everything, and I’m really getting sick of it. We’re already a third of the way through this goddamn book, let’s get to some action already!
After a few more pages of the book are wasted on trivial details, Yur finally says that they received the gift of sunlight, so one of the twins will be named Rah which means light. And light brought them flowers, so he names the other twin Zyn which means flower. I’m not sure why one of the twins is secondary to the other, but whatever. And then in a spectacle that would be both incredible to witness and completely implausible, one thousand and one white doves burst out of the foliage. Note that the Muggles didn’t bring the doves with them to release them. No, exactly 1,001 doves just happened to gather there and simultaneously decided to leave.
Chapter Six – An Emergency Situation
A few months have passed. Stouffer switches randomly between past and present tense a few times describing how they have food to eat now.
Pitter and Pattern are watching the twins now. Zyn’s hair color has changed to dark red, unlike blond-haired Rah. Anyway, Rah and Zyn start talking. Pitter and Patter are delighted and tell everyone and the Muggles are delighted. However, Yur, being deaf, doesn’t hear the news correctly, which leads to a HILARIOUS misunderstanding where he thinks people are talking about thirsty birds and blind deer. It’s not funny at all. Also, this chapter is NINETEEN PAGES LONG. And that’s all that happens in it. Except for a continuity error:
Bluster tugged on Golda’s sleeve. “Muggles can’t talk until they are six years old.” (page 108).
Remember the previous quote about the talkative five-year-old? This is what editors are for, Stouffer.
Chapter Seven – A Special Place and the Stone
Rah and Zyn are now twelve years old and adventurous. They wander around for a bit and run into Golda, who is at her special place (get your mind out of the gutter) in a tree trunk in the forest.
Golda reads them a story from a book. It’s in poem form. And it’s over six pages long. It’s also not very good. Stouffer is not a good poet:
“I think we’ll get dressed for a hike,” she said,
And from the closet, took boots of bright red,
And fishing rods from a box she kept under her bed (page 125).
It took me 20 seconds to rewrite that so it flowed better.
They go over to the Lemonade Lake and Golda teaches them some random facts about Snoutfish. I don’t care. However, there is some Ominous Foreshadowing. Stouffer, demonstrating her skill as a writer, effortlessly and subtly weaves it into the scene:
Golda, smiling as she watched the boys interact with each other, sensed something she had never noticed before. Zyn seems to be a bit insecure in the presence of his brother (page 133).
ZOMG! Also, notice the changing tense?
They walk around for a bit and Golda tells Zyn to take a drink from the lake:
“Hey! This water tastes like lemonade,” he said with great surprise.
“Now you know why they call it Lemonade Lake,” Golda replied (page 135).
Holy shit! I totally did not see that coming! Does raise several questions. First, did the radiation cause it to become lemonade-flavored? Second, if there is a giant lake of free lemonade, wouldn’t the Muggles come gather up buckets of it on a pretty frequent basis? Meaning that everyone would know why it was called the Lemonade Lake, meaning that Zyn would know before he was twelve years old.
Golda gives Zyn a magical worry stone, and tells him whenever he rubs it he will be reminded of how much he is loved. After a few more pages, they run into a kid named Bumper, who is crying.
We have now passed the halfway mark for this book.