|Reviews for Wonders|
| Temple Cloud chapter 12 . 3/9
The end - OR IS IT? It's clever the way you've led the reader into what seems to be a simple, bittersweet ending to a children's story - and then we start catching up on the problems of the human characters' lives as adults. I hadn't been expecting Ben to get together with Candace - but just because his first love was a merboy doesn't mean he can't be attracted to women as well, after all.
It makes sense that Ben, realising how little he had seen of the above-water world, might later on decide to become human so that he could discover more of it. Merboy Ben is definitely his own character, not just an AU version of the hero of Dragon Rider - but he certainly seems to have inherited Ben Greenbloom's curiosity and adventurous spirit, and the willingness to befriend members of strange and terrifying species (such as, in this case, humans). And he'll probably have the same problem over trying to decide which world he truly belongs to.
| Temple Cloud chapter 11 . 2/12
Conversations that needed to happen, between Zoomer and Ivan (the 'You're a bully,' one definitely; the 'My mum is having an affair with your dad,' one not necessarily, but at least it gives Ivan some explanation of why Zoomer doesn't want his friends to visit), and between Ivan and his mother. Ivan, like a lot of characters in books aimed at children or teenagers, had been taking it for granted that the only way he could get anything done would be by never telling any grown-ups anything, and always going behind their backs. Okay, grown-ups do the same thing to children, so it's not altogether surprising. But a lot of children's books work on the assumption that only children are capable of sufficient empathy, if they meet a strange creature, to treat him/her as a person, rather than an object to be studied, and the truth is that life isn't that simple; people don't divide neatly into two categories labelled 'children' and 'adults'.
Talking of communication or the lack of it, have you read 'The Best Revenge' by Arsinoe de Blassenville?
www. fanfiction s/4912291/1/The-Best-Revenge
www. fanfiction s/5843959/1/The-Best-Revenge-Time-of-the-Basilisk
(If the links don't come up here, there are links to them on my FanFiction account.)
This pictures how Hogwarts might have gone about defeating Voldemort if adults and children - particularly, Snape and Harry - had actually explained to each other what was going on, instead of being constantly on the defensive and talking at cross-purposes. Warning: I know you like Dumbledore, and this story doesn't show him in a very flattering light, but it isn't one of the ones that makes him out to be a villain either. It's just that he really does tend to be secretive and arrogant and inclined to treat everyone else as a child who should be protected from knowing the full picture. As Dumbledore himself admits in one of the books, because he's cleverer than most people, his mistakes tend to be bigger than most people's, too. Also, the POV characters, mostly Snape and Harry don't know Dumbledore's full story - it's easy for Snape to assume that Dumbledore overlooks signs of child abuse because his own childhood was idyllically happy, because Dumbledore never talks about the problems his own family faced during his childhood. Which goes back to what I was saying about communication.
| Temple Cloud chapter 10 . 1/10
Yes - you're never going to NOT pair Ivan and Ben, even in stories where they're different species! (Okay, not in Misleading Titles, where Ben is only nine years old, but there's no reason why Ivan couldn't come into the story and at least be friends with him.)
And... there is never not going to be child abuse, whether the victim is human Ben (Misleading Titles), Kyoto and Sicily (Twin Skeletons), Ivan (Out of the Frying Pan continuity), or, here, merman Ben. I had thought at first that Anthony was worried about Ben's safety, worried that Ivan had imprisoned him and might be mistreating him, but no, it turns out that he's just trying to hunt the younger shark down. And we still don't know what exactly the problems in Zoomer's family are, but it's clearly something he would feel deeply humiliated if his friends knew about.
I hadn't even realised that sharks were sociable animals, until I did a bit of research on them this morning in response to your story, so thank you for getting me interested. The websites I looked at suggested that different species and different individual sharks have different social patterns: in some species, it's common for couples to swim together for a long time, rather than just for long enough to mate; in some, only sharks of the same age, size and sex go around together; in some, there's more of a tribal society; and in some, older and larger sharks domineer over the younger ones, keeping them away from the food until the older ones have finished eating, which seems more like Anthony's attitude to interaction. I wouldn't have thought of sharks as scaly exactly - okay, I haven't been close to one, but in pictures they look more as if they have continuous rough, sandpapery skin, rather than shiny overlapping scales - but merpeople-sharks must be a different species from any creature we know about, after all.
| Temple Cloud chapter 9 . 11/19/2019
Interesting - so evidently 'Anthony' is some kind of fantastic being, but that doesn't necessarily mean he's a mer-person. And he hasn't shown any evidence that he works for the EPA - but it's possible that he really does, in order to protect other fantastic beings. He seems to be some kind of shape-shifter - possibly part dragon or were-dragon? The blue eyes might show that he's the same kind of creature as Ben, or might be coloured contact lenses - I wondered for a moment whether he was Atticus Noel (a character from other stories by Evilkat - see her fanfiction account) under another name and disguise. But I'm sure Atticus, if he were posing as an EPA officer, would have some realistic-looking forged ID to back this claim up.
Zoomer's comments about his mother sound ominous - she's at home but doesn't notice what he's up to, and he's obviously embarrassed about the situation. Maybe she's an alcoholic or drug addict?
| Temple Cloud chapter 8 . 10/28/2019
Thank goodness Ben finally gets a chance to talk to Ivan! I got the impression that beating his tail again and again against the side of the bath was Ben's reaction to the stress of being kidnapped, imprisoned in a tiny artificial pool which it's impossible to keep clean (since there is neither enough space for dirt to fall to the seabed/riverbed far below, nor a current to wash it away) and where there's no space to swim, and not even being able to talk to Ivan and ask what is going on.
| Temple Cloud chapter 7 . 10/12/2019
With the weather getting colder, people are likely to be bundled up fairly warmly anyway. If they can get Ben to accept what they're doing (and if they can borrow/steal a wheelchair from somewhere), would Ben be capable of sitting in a wheelchair, with human clothes on his top half and a rug covering his tail? If people try to talk to him and don't get a reply, they will probably just assume that his disability includes speech problems and/or learning disability as well as being unable to walk. Getting him out of the wheelchair, out of the clothes and into the lake, and coming back with the empty wheelchair, without being observed or arousing suspicion, could be harder, but I don't know how busy this park is, and if it's starting to get dark early in the evening, they might get away with it.
Anyway, it looks as though this version of Ivan has a nicer family than the one in your Dragon Rider fics - and I like the little touches like Zoomer being distracted by the possibility of video games. On the other hand, Zoomer is being much more logical than Ivan - Ben's species wouldn't have survived this long if they couldn't cope with winter. Unless, of course, Ben is genuinely a MER-person (i.e. someone who specifically needs to live in the sea) as opposed to a pond-person/river-person, and would normally swim downriver to the sea and migrate south in autumn to where the sea is warmer...
| Temple Cloud chapter 6 . 5/19/2019
Anthony Blank indeed! He/she/they might as well call themself 'N. E. One' or 'A. N. Other'. At first I assumed the words 'not particularly social' meant that merpeople weren't interested in socialising with each other, in the same way that octopuses seem to be highly intelligent but solitary (in contrast to most intelligent birds and mammal, such as crows, parrots, primates, elephants, dolphins, who seem to have evolved large brains to process the complexities of social situations in a large group). After all, there's no particular reason we would expect merpeople to be as interested in humans as in members of their own kind.
And - now we possibly have another friend in on the secret - or possibly an enemy. Hopefully Ivan's dad in this universe is less evil than his counterpart in your Dragon Rider stories, but if he's not a heartless mad scientist who would cheerfully imprison and torture merpeople just to see what happens, I can see you bringing in an antagonist from some other direction.
Ugh, styrofoam trays - why do people do this? At a time when we're getting more concerned about global warming and plastics pollution, you'd think the school would either use normal crockery and wash it up (after all, they've got a kitchen, so presumably they've got room for a dishwasher) or at least use cardboard plates so that they're compostable. (Yesterday I found in my compost bin what at first looked like a plastic bag, but had writing on the side explaining that it was actually made out of potato starch so that it was biodegradable.)
The one that annoys me is restaurants with little individual, non-recyclable sachets of ketchup, mayonnaise and similar, instead of just having a bottle on the counter so you can squeeze some onto your plate. And plastic straws and plastic cutlery and - well, you get the idea.
| Temple Cloud chapter 5 . 4/8/2019
Interesting. With merpeople, there's always the question of whether they are fish who happen to have human-like faces and arms; aquatic mammals like whales, seals and sea cows; or amphibious. I get the impression that Ben is amphibious; he seems to be able to breathe whether in water or on land, suggesting that he has both lungs and gills, but he seems to be able to speak only underwater - or was it truly telepathy?
Of course, this story is told mostly from Ivan's point of view, so Ivan (and we) don't know much about merman physiology and life-cycle. As Candace points out, Ben was lying under the mud when Ivan found him, so he may have been about to put himself in suspended animation to hibernate, and perhaps heal while he slept (in which case, Ivan's rescue of him might have been unnecessary).
I wonder what bathwater smells and tastes like to Ben? Very different from either river-water or seawater - apart from having been sterilised, it might have chemicals added to it, such as chlorine to kill germs, and fluoride if the local authority decides it's necessary for everyone to drink it in order to protect children's teeth. And bathwater (as opposed to drinking water) might even have lead particles in it, if it came through lead pipes. Of course, if Ivan's parents have a rainwater collector on their house, they might be using rainwater to flush the lavatories, but I don't know whether water collected in one of those would (from a human's point of view) look clean enough to have a bath in. (My husband's parents had one, and the water inevitably came out brown because they didn't have a way to stop dead leaves, or even dead rats or pigeons, falling into it and decaying in the water, so it was only really useful for watering the garden.)
My father used to work for a small factory, and any water they used (for example, to cool hot pieces of metal) had to be extensively filtered, purified and de-ionised to ensure that it was completely pure water before they could pour it into the river. As they were annoyed with being repeatedly inspected even when there was nothing wrong with their water, one day when the water authority asked them for yet another sample of their output water, they sent a bottle of tap water instead to see if anyone would notice the difference. The water authority sent back a furious letter pointing out how many toxins were in the sample. The factory wrote back pointing out that this was the stuff that came out of the taps - if it wasn't safe to pour into a river, why did they expect people to drink it?
Apart from the taste of the water, though, if I were Ben I would be fascinated by having a choice of adding more hot or more cold water. I would probably experiment with turning each tap on in turn, and seeing how long it took to change the temperature. I would probably flood the bathroom (either by accident, or deliberately to try and turn the whole room into a reasonable-sized swimming-pool)...
| Temple Cloud chapter 4 . 4/1/2019
Yes - regrettably, Candace is making some very good points. How private is a 'private' bathroom, anyway? So private that your parents never even come in to clean it, or to borrow the toothpaste or shampoo if they've run out, or use it if one of them is desperate for the loo when the other is occupying THEIR bathroom? So private that they wouldn't investigate if they heard mysterious noises?
And yes, Ben is likely to get very bored, very quickly. I don't know how much he understands about the situation (he seems to understand human speech, if he gets annoyed at people calling him a merMAID), but he might feel worried about whether Ivan is really just going to try to keep him safe till spring, or is planning to keep him as a pet for good.
Practicalities - apart from needing to swim, there's the problem of toilet facilities. I'd imagine that merpeople with a whole sea to swim in don't worry about this - faeces drop to the ocean floor, far below where the merpeople are swimming - but you can't very well use a bathtub as a lavatory, and climbing out to bend one's tail over a human lavatory probably doesn't work either. He'd probably just need to run a fresh bath at frequent intervals - which would make Ivan's parents suspicious about where all that water is going. And what happens when Ivan needs to bathe or shower and wash his hair?
Smuggling food up to Ben - I don't know how much pocket money Ivan gets, but it might not be enough to cover this, and going out and buying food separately from what the family is eating is going to look suspicious - what does he want with so much raw fish? Equally, if he keeps grabbing food from the fridge in between meals, his parents are going to wonder why his appetite has suddenly doubled even from the normally voracious appetite of a teenager (and, again, why his preference in snacks has suddenly switched from sweets and cakes to raw carrots and raw fish).
| Temple Cloud chapter 3 . 3/28/2019
This is a cliffhanger to leave on - and an engaging story that looks as though it could be popular. Am I right in guessing that Ivan Newlands here is an AU version of the Ivan in your Dragon Rider fanfics, if his parents are still together?
Some of the 'teenager-meets-fabulous-being' stories I've read can be quite dark (for example, one about a girl who loves swimming so much that she joins a group of very cool, stylish sirens who she realises are murderous, man-eating vampires. When she expresses shock about this, they respond, 'Well, duh! that's why we don't lead with that, when we're first getting to know someone,' and she decides to join them anyway, as the chance to become a mermaid is just too cool to pass up. This doesn't look as though it's going to be that kind of story (though I don't know yet), and looks as though it could appeal to younger readers as well as teenagers and adults. In that case, parents might want you to tone down the occasional bit of swearing. Anyway, are you going to continue with it?
| Temple Cloud chapter 2 . 3/28/2019
I suppose an aquatic man isn't necessarily a merman (there could be freshwater and saltwater species), but I'd have thought that being cold and wet is normal for them, as it is for humans. But shivering definitely suggests otherwise. Perhaps this one belongs in tropical waters, and isn't adapted to the cold of a river in a temperate zone?
| Temple Cloud chapter 1 . 3/28/2019
Scary start to the story - somehow creatures hiding in the mud seem more alarming than creatures hiding actually in the water itself. At least in water, if you can break free of your attacker's grip, you can swim (even if a merman would quickly out-swim you). If pulled into mud or quicksand, it would be all too easy to suffocate before you could get your head into air.