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Copy of How to Disappear Completely and Never be Found

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Kathy Baxter

on 7 April 2014

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Transcript of Copy of How to Disappear Completely and Never be Found

How to Disappear Completely and Never be Found
Sara Nickerson
Sara Nickerson is a writer who specializes in mystery fiction, and enjoys writing screen plays as well. She lives in Seattle, WA, with her husband and two kids.
Plot Structure
Margaret Clairmont was always curious about her family, especially her father, who drowned several years ago. When Margaret, her mother, and her little sister, Sophie, travel to an old mansion beside the ocean, Margaret discovers a package, addressed to her mother, but never opened. Inside lies some strange objects. When Margaret decides to return to the old mansion in secret, she meets Boyd, who's been watching the mansion for years; watching for the Ratt. When the duo begin investigating the mystery of the mansions past and its former residents, Margaret discovers the truth about the fate of her father, a swim champion, and his reclusive little brother, who thought he was transforming into a monster, the Ratt. Then, little Sophie Clairmont, speaks to the monster himself, who turned out to be harmless, and afraid. After Margaret and Boyd uncover the truth, and Sophie sails out with Ratt, things take on a whole new route, resulting in Ratt's apparent demise, or so it seems. In the end, the Calirmont family is reunited, Boyd has learned the secrets of the house he watched for so long, and Ratt still tells his story about two brothers, a monster and a hero, and the children that uncovered the truth about what happened to them on a full moon night so many years ago.
Dialogue and Foreshadowing
Idea 4
Comparative Response
Two similarities between "The Speckled Band", by Sir Arthur Conan Doyle, and "How to Disappear and Never be Found", by Sara Nickerson, were found in the literary elements of dramatic irony and plot structure. Dramatic irony was found in both selections as an assumption that a person in question was an animal (Ratt to Rat-creature, Murderer to Snake), which in the end is proven as an unlikely fact (the Rat-creature was actually Ratt, the murderer was actually a snake.) Plot structure also shared the similarity of the mystery beginning with the death of a sibling by some unseen creature or force.
Two differences were found in setting and characterization. The setting of Nickerson's novel, which is modern-day U.S. somewhere by the ocean, greatly differs from Doyle's setting of old-time England in the countryside. Characterization also greatly differed due to the fact that Nickerson's protagonists were described as young, superstitious children, and Doyle's protagonists, mainly Sherlock Holmes, is described as an older, more rational man, whom takes every detail as fact to solve a mystery instantly, much unlike Margaret and Boyd in Nickerson's novel.
I personally feel Nickerson did a better job of creating suspense in her selection, using an unsolved mystery, a fantastical creature, and a more sinister setting to create suspense about the final resolution of the mystery. Nickerson used the reader's imagination and sense of childhood and relativity to the characters to better capture the reader's attention and keep them on the edge of their seats with each plot twist. Nickerson also does not fully resolve the story of the Ratt, leaving the reader to wonder what would happen after the events of the novel, while Doyle ended the story fully in a a short conclusion, with no loose ends.
Sara Nickerson wrote a very suspensful plot, which kept me and many other young readers on the edge of out seats, wondering what would happen next. The mystery of the Ratt made this novel two stories in one, and provided a gripping backstory, paving way to an adventorous, comedic tale about learning the turth and discovering something truly worth discovering.
"At first i thought this story ended with that wave on the ferry. But just like I'm not sure where it really began, I'm not so sure about the ending either" -274
"Remember every bit of this. member a boy who looked at himself in the mirror and believed he saw a hideous thing. Remember a boy who treasured things that other people threw away. Remember a boy who learned to survive. Remember a boy who became my uncle and saved my life- the terrible, wonderful Ratt." -270
Setting
The main setting of this novel is an old mansion resting beside the ocean. The mansion itself is very cluttered with miscellaneous items and seems to be abandon to most passerby. Time is modern-day, location in U.S. near coast.
"Surrounded by overgrown weeds and bushes, the mansion next door stood as it always had- three stories of cracked and peeling paint, warped wood, a sagging porch." -17

"You know the one drawer in the house that doesn't make sense?... That's what this was, only a hundred times bigger with a hundred times more stuff..." -131
Was it Suspenseful?
In my opinion, Nickerson did a great job on making the rickety old mansion a suspensful setting for readers, incorporating sounds and a backstory to add to the mystery of the location itself. Multiple inferences of the supposed abandon mansion actually being inhabited by some mystery creature provided huge amounts of the needed element of suspense and at the same time kept hold of the reader's attention.
Visualization
Nickerson did effectively bring the setting to life throughout the novel, describing almost every sensory detail and every event experienced by the main characters while inside and outside the mysterious location.
Dialogue
"Everything is about to change, and I have very little time to tell you what I need to tell you."-240
This piece of dialogue, spoken by Ratt, the personification of "him" mentioned in the previous dialogue, creates suspense for the reader by giving evidence of some coming event that will "change everything", and giving Ratt a secret that may play a part in the overall mystery, leaving the reader to wonder what this important secret might be.
Foreshadowing
"This hand- it was like a human hand, only not. It had long, thin fingers with thick, yellow nails, so pointy they looked sharp. And there was hair. Not normal hair that some grownups have on their knuckles-this hair was more like fur."-206
This paragraph shows effective foreshadowing by giving a brief vignette of an unusual image seen by the character, which would later be mentioned and used as evidence to conclude an almost impossible idea about the origins of a strange creature and its whereabouts.
"I know. That's what I tried to tell you and you laughed at me. It's him. He's living there."-145
This dialogue, spoken by Boyd, a boy living next to the mansion, created suspense for the reader by stating an previously unknown fact about "him", whom is not identified yet and is left to the reader's imagination as a monster, living in the mansion in which Margaret was exploring just a time before.
" 'He doesn't look that much like a rat,' she said finally.
Boyd sighed, 'Just wait,' he said, 'Just wait.' " -162
This piece of text evidence shows effective foreshadowing by stating a contradiction to the beliefs about the antagonist's origin and recognizable traits, and then hinting at a later discovery that would explain the antagonist's origins and reason for supposed traits.
"He came back. He'd pulled off the greatest escape of all time and could have easily disappeared forever, like he'd been trying to do for years. But he came back." -274, How to Disappear and Never be Found

"Such are the true facts of the death of Dr. Grimesby Roylott, of Stoke Moran. It is not necessary that I should prolong a narrative which has already run to too great a length by telling how we broke the sad news to the terrified girl, how we conveyed her by the morning train to the care of her good aunt at Harrow, of how the slow process of official inquiry came to the conclusion that the doctor met his fate while indiscreetly playing with a dangerous pet. The little which I had yet to learn of the case was told me by Sherlock Holmes as we travelled back next day."- The Speckled Band
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