Chapter 1; In Which the Universe Forms, Which Seems Like a Very Good Place to Start
From the first chapter, it feels like it was written by a young boy rather than John Connolly, a grown man. This in itself is amazing since Mr. Connolly has a reputation for books of a crime & thriller genre and to successfully tap into his inner child is no small feat.
As for my impressions, I have a borderline geeky love of science & any theories concerning the natural world & all universal aspects intrigue me, so it’s no surprise that I really enjoyed the first chapter. The explanation of the Big Bang theory is written not from the point of view of a physics professor or teacher, but through the understanding of a child, or from a writer of the old Beano or Whizzer & Chips comics (the Dandy being too juvenile obviously, and I apologise to non-British readers of these notes. The “Beano” etc… are British comics with tongue-in-cheek playground humour).
The building blocks of everything that you can see around you, and a great deal more that you can’t see at all, were blasted from that little dot at a speed so fast that, within a minute, the universe was a million billion miles in size and still expanding, so the dot was responsible for bringing into being planets and asteroids; whales and budgerigars; you, and Julius Caesar, and Elvis Presley.
The Big Bang theory is a serious topic in most literature but this book. It’s a wonderful description and I’m going to try and remember what I can from this chapter should some neighbour’s child ask me for the secrets of the universe. If you’re a parent, read the first chapter (it’s free!) and learn how to embrace science for the sake of children who ask difficult questions. Science is fun and now I’ve got tangible proof in this book.
It even touches on the religious aspect of Creation theories (I’ll refrain from calling it a myth), albeit not very seriously.
Many of them also believe that the universe was created in seven days by an old chap with a beard, perhaps with breaks for tea and sandwiches. This may be true but, if it was created in this way, they were very long days: about two billion years long for each, give or take a few million years, which is a lot of sandwiches.
Anyone who has seen Hitch-Hiker’s Guide to the Galaxy, or who can appreciate the teachings of Monty of Python, will no doubt appreciate this chapter in it’s entirety.
Chapter 2; In Which We Encounter a Small Boy, His Dog, and Some People Who Are Up to No Good
Enter our heroes, Samuel Johnson and Boswell (Boswell being a very intelligent & self-aware looking dachshund) who live at 501 Crowley Avenue.
It’s a tad Enid Blyton to have such a young boy as the hero, but some stories simply have to be told through the eyes of a child. The world is a simpler place then, it only gets complicated sometime during our teen years.
Samuel has the great idea of trick-or-treating three days prior to Halloween, which shows great intuitive from one so young.
“It’s only October the twenty-eighth,” he said. “I know,” said the small figure. “I thought I’d get a head start on everyone else.”
Pity no-one has rewarded him thus far, he did get dressed up as a ghost, so he isn’t begging per se. Adults just don’t want to appreciate a good idea, just in case it catches on and all the kids start doing the same. From an adult’s point of view, I can appreciate how it could become expensive but for pity’s sake, give the boy an apple.
Getting back on track; during the execution of this monumentally brilliant idea, we are introduced to the Abernathys at 666 Crowley Avenue, who, in their boring excuse of an existence, are seeking to become slightly less boring than everyone else in their lives. Mrs. Abernathy has somehow found a satanic book of knowledge and I immediately know that they’re either 1) going to die; 2) become possessed by something very bad, or 3) both – worst case scenario.
Obviously the Abernathys and they’re very boring friends, the Renfields (it’s safe to say they’ve no relation to the Dracula story) have been boring for so long a time that their brain cells no longer function the way nature intended. The idea of danger not even being a tiny blip on their minds.
It’s okay though, ’cause the author pretty much informs me straight off the bat that as people, they’re not of the pleasant or friendly variety, are in fact quite horrible & unhappy and are very, very dull.
The Abernathys and the Renfields weren’t looking for trouble. Neither were they trying to do anything bad. They weren’t evil, or vicious, or cruel. They were just bored people with too much time on their hands, and such people will, in the end, get up to mischief. But just as someone who wears a sign saying “Kick Me!” will, in the normal course of events, eventually be kicked,…
Plus, I get the feeling that without bad guys, most books would be on the non-fiction shelves, and Samuel & dog Boswell can’t prove their mettle & subsequently save the universe, now can they.
Oh, and I wish I were young enough again to get away with wearing odd shoes, simply because I couldn’t decide which colour I preferred.