Marc Kuslanski–A Rational Explanation for Everything

Marc Kuslanski is the kind of junior-high know-it-all who rarely, if ever, exhibits a sense of wonder.  Where’s the wonder when you already know how things work?  The magician’s disappearing act isn’t so mesmerizing once you learn the secret.  The mind-blowing card trick becomes pedestrian when you learn how to do it yourself.

Marc is all about learning the answers.  Today’s mysteries, he believes, will become tomorrow’s discoveries.  There is nothing in the universe that cannot, in time, be understood, learned about, mastered.  Science can, and ultimately will, unlock the answers behind every seemingly inscrutable question.  Regarding this, Marc Kuslanski has no doubt.  It is the mantra of his life, the guiding principle to everything he believes in.

But his belief will be tested.  As with Mitchell Brant, Joe Marma, and Ryan Swinton, Marc will go through incredible, potentially sanity-busting experiences in The Eye-Dancers.  Throughout the vast majority of the book, while the others look for answers in the mysterious “ghost girl,” Marc clings to the belief that hard science, mathematical formulas, logic, and quantum physics will provide the salvation.  But everyone must face an epiphany at one point in their lives, and Marc Kuslanski is no different.

For as “Einstein” Kuslanski finally comes to understand, not all of life’s mysteries can be calculated, calibrated, and broken down to their lowest common denominator.  Some things, by their very nature, must remain enigmas.

There are, and always will be, some phenomena that can elicit nothing less than a profound sense of  wonder.

Ryan Swinton–Anything for a Laugh

Have you ever known the kid who would do anything to make you laugh?  Tell any joke?  Pull any stunt?  Ryan Swinton is that kid.  For a long time now, Ryan has felt enormous pressure to come up with fantastic new jokes.  He scours the Internet, observes people closely, watches, listens–always on the lookout for new material.  Nothing makes him feel better than eliciting a laugh.  On the flip side, nothing makes him feel worse than getting to the punch line and having no one think it’s funny.

Ryan has known Joe Marma for years–ever since they were toddlers.  He supposes it’s natural that he gravitates toward Joe.  Joe is everything he’s not–take-charge, decisive, tough, ready to make a decision and take the lead.  Ryan would much rather follow along, not ruffle any feathers.  He doesn’t always like the decisions Joe makes–but he knows what Joe would say if he said so:  “Too bad, bud.  Tough.”  It is better, and easier, to just go along.

But over the course of The Eye-Dancers, as Ryan, Joe, Mitchell Brant, and Marc Kuslanski are swept away in a mind-bending adventure, Ryan is forced to deal with situations that, by necessity, force him to make key decisions.  He will not be able to defer to Joe this time.  He has to take the lead, too.  Will he be up for the challenge?

Along the way, Ryan is sure to crack a few jokes, and he’ll do his best, always, to make you laugh.

Joe Marma–All About Action

You don’t want to mess with Joe Marma.  He’s the toughest kid in the seventh grade, and he’s not afraid to show it.  Few things excite and stimulate Joe more than a good fistfight, but as he notes with disappointment when we first meet him in The Eye-Dancers, few people are willing to challenge him anymore, his reputation being what it is.

About a year earlier, in sixth grade, Joe rescued Mitchell Brant from a beating–two kids were banging away at him before Joe stepped in.  Since then, the boys have become good friends.  And when Mitchell confides in Joe about his recurring dreams of the spectral girl with the blue, spinning eyes (whom he refers to as “the ghost girl”), Joe surprises him by saying he’s been having the same dreams!  This is a sobering development for the boys.  What can it mean?  Why does the same little girl haunt both of their dreams?

Joe wishes the mystery could be more like a fight–where one good shot to the jaw can solve the problem.  But it’s going to take a lot more work, and it’s going to cause the boys to confront their deepest insecurities and fears.  For Joe, a big issue is his older brother, Bob.  Bob has it all–movie-star looks, girlfriends to spare, straight A report cards.  And he’s tall–unlike Joe.  Just another reason for the ever-present chip on his shoulder.  People better not underestimate Joe because he’s short.  And they better not poke fun at him.  His temper is never far from the surface.  Never far from erupting.  It’s frustrating being the sibling to the perfect older brother.

But Joe has never backed away from a challenge, and he’s not going to back away from the mysteries of this “ghost girl” or the strange, hypnotic power of her eyes.  He knows the next time he falls asleep, she will be there, in his dreams.  Bring it on.

But there are more pieces to this puzzle, more boys who will be affected by these events.  Ryan Swinton, for one.  He’s been Joe’s friend since they were toddlers.  Ryan–the class clown, the comedian . . .

Mitchell Brant–A Reluctant Hero

At the start of The Eye-Dancers, seventh-grader Mitchell Brant would be quick to tell anyone who’d listen that he is a hero.  But deep down, when being honest with himself, he’d more likely admit he falls far short of what he aspires to be.  The thing with Mitchell is, he’s one of those perpetual storytellers–liars, to call a spade a spade.  He can’t seem to help it.  Maybe it’s because he’s not popular at school or that he becomes tongue-tied around girls.  Whatever the reason, he is quick to invent stories about himself–such as how he ran the mile in four-and-a-half minutes last fall, or threw a baseball ninety-two-miles-per-hour last summer.  Few people believe him anymore–but he just can’t stop himself.  And when people do doubt the truth of his claims, he defends them with tenacity and passion.

Why defend a lie?  As Mitchell points out himself in the opening chapter, he’s not necessarily defending a “lie” per se.  He’s defending what he hopes to be someday, he’s reaching for the stars and trying so hard to grab onto his dreams.  Can’t anyone understand?

Well, maybe a little girl with blue, spinning eyes can–the girl he dreams of three nights in a row.  The girl who haunts his sleep.  Who is she?  What does she want with him?  Mitchell must find out, and when he does, he must confront not only the truth about the girl, but also the truth about himself.  And he won’t be alone.

His best friend, Joe Marma, is going along for the ride, too . . .

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