Norman has admitted in interviews to performing minimal research before and during the book's writing, therefore many of these mistakes (especially scientific ones) should probably be expected.
Study of Problems Edit
Below are a study of the several issues found within the book's narrative. For the sake of simplified organization, they are simply divided by chapters.
Chapter 1 Edit
- Discussing the books she was assigned to read in school, Theresa describes To Kill a Mockingbird as being about the main character Scout living "a charming life in the 1930's South," and "dealt with simple issues." Anyone who read the book would recognize that Scout's dilemmas were a little bit more than "simple issues" (ie., racism against African Americans), and that oftentimes Scout's life was anything but charming (ie., when her and her brother are attacked, and nearly killed, by the drunken antagonist).
- Theresa, at ten years old, is left alone at her home by her parents. Norman tries to shrug this off by having Theresa say she was wearing a Community Alert Cooperative System (CACS), with which a kid could squeeze two buttons together to alert monitors about her name and location. She claims that she was "safer than if [her] parents were home without the alert system," adding "What were they supposed to do if a gunman came in?" Norman doesn't seem to wonder what would happen if a child were abducted before they had a chance to squeeze those two buttons together. Such devices have been used in the past, but have often still ended with the unfortunate death or abduction of a child. In the end, it still seems irresponsible that Theresa's parents would leave her alone like this.
- The local fire department is told that "the temperature jumped up in a few minutes," and use thermistor probes on everyone's lawn and back yards, but never find the source of the heat. Theresa connects this with her bonding with HAL, so why didn't the firemen notice anything around her, or near her house? It is even later explained by Jan Struthers that Theresa herself was giving off a lot of heat, and it was all around her - why, then, did no one notice she was the source of the heat?
- When OOPS begins to monitor Theresa, they do so out in the open, and for long periods of time. Theresa's mother notices them parked all night. They continue to do things openly and in plain sight. While no one is going to argue government agencies do things in a perfect manner, such an absurdly executed mission seems like more of a joke than a serious attempt to guard someone. It gets even more amazing in a later chapter when Boston College's campus security manage to capture OOPS operatives - yes, campus security manages to notice and arrest government secret agents.
- Even after noticing that a strange car has been parked outside all night, and have freaked out enough people to call the cops...Theresa's parents go to work and leave her all alone yet again. Surely most parents would be at least a little concerned about leaving their daughter alone, or unprotected, at that point.
- Theresa calls the operator for the number for Alice Pizza, and receives an answer. She concludes, "So they weren't listening." She later calls the operator and asks the same thing, but receives no answer, concluding that they were listening now. Why this is a sign they're listening is never explained.
- While at Barnes & Nobles and McDonald's, Theresa notices men following her around and watching her. Most kids would be freaked out by this, and most parents would probably notice and call the cops, but no one gives any realistic reaction.
- Theresa rents and watches 2001: A Space Odyssey, which Jan Struthers later explains was one of the signs they knew about the alien inside. Why this was a sign Theresa knew is never explained.
- Theresa explains to Jan Struthers that she named the alien HAL after the sentient computer in 2001: A Space Odyssey, because the movie taught her that talking to the alien was like "talking to the devil." Yet in the same dialogue, she not only confirms that the alien doesn't talk (HAL 9000 does), but the alien isn't a computer (which HAL 9000 is). Why Theresa thinks there's some connection between HAL 9000 and the alien is therefore completely nonsensical. Likewise, how the movie taught her that talking to the alien is like "talking to the devil" is never explained.
- Jan Struthers explains that none of the OOPS operatives know why they're guarding Theresa - and few except Jan herself knows certain traits about Theresa, such as giving off heat. While it wouldn't be uncanny for certain information to not be passed down to those in the lower echelons, that agents would be kept that much out of the loop is peculiar. One would think that not even being aware of Theresa's powers or abilities would potentially put them in danger, or hinder their abilities to properly monitor Theresa's activities.
- Jan Struthers warns Theresa to keep her powers a secret, because otherwise she might receive a lot of media attention. Yet a chapter later, Theresa joins the boys' baseball team, where she pitches at 85 mph, and receives so much media attention that she is recognized by characters later on in college. This completely negates that entire concern.
- Jan Struthers explains that the operator being one of OOPS' agents (see above) is to protect Theresa, should she desire to connect with someone outside the country. Why the operator had to be an agent is never explained (the operator could simply be working with the agency, or have their activity wiretapped by the agency). It also makes it nonsensical as to why the operator didn't tell Theresa the number for Alice Pizza earlier in the chapter, since that couldn't have been someone dangerous.
- When Jan Struthers tells Theresa that "four hundred" agents are watching her, Theresa comments, "It takes that many people to watch somebody twenty-four hours a day without being noticed." She says this even though OOPS agents have been spotted countless times.
Chapter 2 Edit
- As previously stated, even though Jan Struthers told Theresa to keep a low profile, she joins the boys' baseball team in high school and pitches at 85 mph, becoming a star. In the next chapter, characters will recognize her from press coverage.
- Theresa says that her "speed was explained as being the advantage of being small, like a lightweight boxer being much faster than a heavyweight but not as strong a hitter." This makes absolutely no sense. Being small doesn't automatically mean you can throw faster. A novice research into pitching mechanics demonstrates it has more to do with strength, the grip on the ball, and how it is thrown.
- Theresa says that she could have thrown faster, but she held back her strength to avoid detection. This wouldn't matter, given the lowest your average Major League pitcher throws is 60 mph, and Theresa was pitching at 25 mph faster than that.
- Theresa and Jan Struthers meet at a Burger King because "the noise gave privacy as good [as] the Sahara Desert." Anyone who's ever eaten at a Burger King would tell you that, apart from the fact it's not that noisy, it's also hardly private. It certainly wouldn't give you privacy as good as the Sahara Desert.
- Jan Struthers states, "A comet will move in a straight line, not a curve." In fact, comets are well known for moving in curves and orbits.
- A "hundred foot wide white ball" comes down to earth, gaining attention from several "comet hunting" astronomers, as well as the US government...but there was apparently no media attention. Nobody else apparently wondered what this large white ball was, or where it went when it entered the atmosphere.
- Jan Struthers explains that it was President Sheffield formed the Office of Orbital Phenomena Surveillance, also known as OOPS for short. This is the goofiest name for a secret organization. Norman Boutin has explained in rants against his critics that this was meant to make people think the organization wasn't important. However, the organization already had a cover (it supposedly monitored "all the space junk we put into orbit"), and one would think that a goofy name like OOPS would draw more unwanted attention than was desired. Also, no one in the book treats it as a joke. Every single character treats OOPS as a serious name.
- Jan Struthers states that OOPS knew Theresa had bonded with HAL because she gave off heat. Why this is a sign of HAL's presence is never explained.
- OOPS was able to detect Theresa as the source of the heat with infrared cameras, and yet the local fire departments, using equipment of their own, and searching for several hours, could not.
- Jan Struthers repeats that they knew Theresa was aware of HAL's presence after she rented 2001: A Space Odyssey. Again, why this was a sign Theresa knew is never explained.
- OOPS noticed "a column of disturbed air" above Theresa that "goes right up to space" with their Doppler radar. She says that weather stations didn't notice this because their Doppler radars "scan horizontally," but OOPS' radar "can scan it with a radar beam aimed down." This makes no sense: Doppler radar functions by utilizing the Doppler effect to produce data from objects at a distance; the direction of the object is irrelevant. If there was a column of disturbed air, a "horizontal" Doppler radar would have picked it up once the waves made contact with the column. Keep in mind that Doppler radar is capable of picking up tornadoes or tornado vortexes, similar to the column described over Theresa.
- Theresa says, regarding HAL, that it was possible she "would have to be the ambassador between the world and the aliens." Why HAL is presumed to be an alien, given it has shown no evidence of being a rational being, is never explained. HAL could very well be an unexplained, irrational force sourced to space.
- Theresa and Father Donoughty meet Jeremy Benton in a public library to discuss top secret matters. While this isn't as bad as meeting at Burger King, it still wouldn't be an opportune place. It is also ironic that, given Theresa and Jan Struthers met at Burger King for the noise, Theresa and Jeremy Benton choose to meet at a location well known for its silence.
- Jeremy Benton refers to Peter Blair as "Prime Minister of England." The full title of the British Prime Minister is actually "Prime Minister of the United Kingdom of Great Britain and Northern Ireland." While "England" was a common term for all of Britain during the 18th and 19th centuries, in modern times it refers specifically to the region of England. A Northern Irishman, for example, would take great offense to being called "English" rather than "British."
- Though Jan Struthers disappears and is suspected to have been killed, no character shows absolutely any remorse or worry. Everyone essentially takes an attitude of "Where did she go? Oh well! Moving on..."
- Canadian Prime Minister Jean Turgeon, British Prime Minister Peter Blair, and the Roman pope, are all portrayed as immediately believing Theresa's story. While the US presidents might be excused, since they had the records and evidence, Turgeon, Blair, and the pope are just being told this word of mouth, or with some evidence delivered to them by a third party source. No reason is given for why they would immediately believe the story about a ten-year old girl who had bonded with an alien that flew out of a fox.
- Though Jan Struthers has disappeared, and foreign intelligence tells Theresa she may be in danger - to the point that Britain and the pope both offer her asylum - she just says, "I'll wait a while and see what happens." One would think most people would at least consider escape a little more inviting.
- Father Donoughty is described wrapping a leg around Theresa's ankles as a way to warn her not to give information. While Donoughty had no ill intent doing it, it seems like something a celibate priest shouldn't do to a young woman. At the most, he could have tapped against her shoe, or given her a warning look.
- Father Donoughty says that "he'd keep an eye" on Theresa "and call the Canadian Prime Minister if anything went wrong." This presumes a random priest in the United States can just pick up the phone and dial the Canadian prime minister like he was calling an old college buddy.
Chapter 3 Edit
- Theresa goes to Boston College, since she receives full scholarship, plus room and board, from the pope. Again, no explanation is given as to why the pope is so interested in Theresa, or at the very least so much so that he pays her tuition, room, and board for an expensive college.
- Theresa explains that Boston College students were "urged to set up a webpage about themselves," and that "kids' dormitories were listed which made it easy to find people if you didn't know their names" - right down to their dorm numbers! This sounds like an amazing invasion of privacy, and something which - especially for female students - could cause problems with security. While some college do offer web space for students to use, they are not "urged" to use them, and it is meant to give information on their school work (ie., art, writing, etc.), not their personal lives.
- Theresa is continually described by both Norman Boutin and other characters as a good little Catholic girl, and yet she admits to dating Jack just to be dating someone, and even admits they "were not compatible enough for a lifetime commitment." She says later that Steve was her first love, implying that she never had any romantic love for Jack, even though they were dating. Later on in this chapter is the infamous dress scenario, where Theresa intentionally dresses sexy in order to tease Jack, and teases other boys. Again, this doesn't seem like the actions of a good little Catholic girl who is supposed to be a role model for other Catholic girls.
- As stated above, OOPS agents are caught by campus security, even though they are supposedly highly trained government agents. Even stranger is that the agents do not tell anyone who they work for until after Theresa arrives. One might also wonder why OOPS didn't tell the campus authorities that they would be monitoring a girl in order to keep her safe.
- After speaking to the president, the Boston College security officer is described giving everyone "the facts of life." The phrase facts of life refers to "any aspect of human existence that must be acknowledged or regarded as unalterable," or more popularly "facts concerning sex, reproduction, and birth." Neither of these definitions fit in the context of lecturing people about what the president has to say about security protocol.
- When Theresa dresses in a sexy outfit and expects Jack to come up, Steve enters the room instead. Though supposedly a good Catholic girl, and wearing an outfit clearly intended to fill a man with lust, Theresa's reaction to another man (one supposedly just a good friend) walking in is literally nothing more than "Hi, Steve. What's up?" When Steve starts to check her out, Theresa flirts with, "Cat got your tongue, Steve?"
- Steve tells Theresa that Ginny is "Steve's old high school girlfriend." In fact, Ginny is Jack's old girlfriend. This is a typo.
- Steve tells Theresa that Ginny is a waitress. Literally in the next sentence, Theresa says, "Then she could be a cashier in Jack's father's store." Why she presumes this, right after Steve told her what Ginny's job was, is never explained.
- Theresa's parents rightly aren't sure if she should marry a man (Steve) that she just met. The description of their relationship amounts to "we could spend hours together without talking." Father Donoughty defends their relationship simply with "there was nothing to indicate our marriage wouldn't work." Steve and Theresa's relationship literally only works because Norman Boutin says it does.
Chapter 4 Edit
- When she's kidnapped by men at gunpoint, Theresa seems to take everything in stride, and doesn't display the reaction of someone put in that situation. Even if she was aware that President Martin was out to get her, it doesn't seem like how someone would respond to being taken away to certain death. Later on, when she is told she's not going back home, she starts to get tears, that but is the extent of her sadness.
- Theresa says that the armed men "suspected [she] had powers [she] didn't admit," then later says "they didn't know about HAL," but only that she was a danger to the United States.
- Theresa is to be killed by an atomic bomb because "nothing could survive an A-bomb." At the risk of getting into a game of semantics, this entirely depends on one's closeness to the A-bomb's explosion - plenty of people survived the initial bombing of Hiroshima and Nagasaki, even if some died later of radiation poisoning, or experienced health problems later on. Even if we're talking about being at the center of the explosion, to say "nothing could survive an A-bomb" makes about as much sense as "nothing could survive a stab to the heart" or "nothing could survive a bullet to the brain." Why the government needs to go through this elaborate plan to kill Theresa is never fully explained.
- Theresa says the reason they rode in a helicopter and not a plane was "a chopper could land anywhere such as this quiet part of the airbase while planes had to land at the airstrip with lots of people watching." Apparently, it's impossible for people to see helicopters taking off and landing at airstrips.
- One of the biggest plot holes involves Theresa's use of Coca-Cola bottles. She keeps eleven in a garbage bag, and takes it with her throughout her trip towards her execution. She is even permitted to take it with her into the F-22 with the atomic bomb. Norman says that the guards "dismissed this as the irrational behavior of someone who knew she'd die in hours." However, anyone who has worked with prisoners or anything involving imprisonment knows that prisoners are not allowed to keep anything outside of what is provided to them. Why guards would permit her to lug eleven coke bottles around makes absolutely no sense. It also doesn't make sense how she took this garbage bag full of coke bottles around, given that many times during her journey she is strapped into a chair.
- Theresa is given a special thermal suit to keep her from freezing at high altitudes, is strapped in to prevent her neck from breaking during hard crashes, and is generally kept from dying before her execution. In other words, the government hopes to prevent killing her before killing her. Wait, what...?
- Theresa calls Psalm 23 "not a standard Church prayer," despite the fact almost every church uses Psalm 23 at some point in their services, and it is one of the most recognizable prayers in the Christian faith.
- The officers Theresa is brought before apparently "had not been told the person being executed was an eighteen year old girl." Why this information wasn't shared, given the agents had no problem with it, is never explained. Theresa says "that's why everybody else was below deck," since their knowing that fact "could have caused a mutiny," but officers have been known to commit mutinies as well, therefore this explanation makes no sense.
- Theresa says that three officers were present because "the captain probably thought the condemned man deserved a last look at females." That a naval captain would use the women under him for this purpose is extremely disturbing.
- Despite the fact this execution is supposed to be secret until the president's televised conference, people permit a female officer to take out her cell phone and record a video of Theresa.
- We're supposed to believe that, while the jet is climbing at a fast pace, Theresa is able to just move around freely and do things like pour cola onto the floor. This is not how physics works.
- Theresa is given oxygen to survive the high altitude. Around 55,000 feet, she takes the oxygen mask off, and seems to be completely unaffected. There is no evidence that she even suffers from altitude sickness, which begins around 8,000 feet.
- ↑ http://www.catholicfiction.net/blog/there-s-a-world-to-save-an-interview-with-catholic-novelist-norman-boutin.php
- ↑ http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Fastball
- ↑ http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Pitcher#Pitching_biomechanics
- ↑ http://www.creationscience.com/onlinebook/Comets4.html
- ↑ http://www.grc.nasa.gov/WWW/k-12/airplane/doppler.html
- ↑ http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Prime_Minister_of_the_United_Kingdom
- ↑ http://dictionary.reference.com/browse/facts+of+life
- ↑ http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Altitude_sickness