Week One Chapters 1-5: The Lost, The New


#1

Mountaineers, Readers, Friends, welcome to week one of the Ackerly Green Book Club! This week, we are discussing Chapters One to Five of TMP Volume One: Flora and Fauna. Are you ready?

From the Foreword, onward. Here are some discussion points for the week!

1. Martin Rank, our narrator, opens his tale with a word on the Mandela Effect. What are some examples of the Mandela Effect that you can recall, besides the example of the Berenstein/Berenstain Bears given in the book?

2. Imagine that Marty had taken the Ackerly Green book from the Octagon ruins that day. What do you imagine could have been the result? What do you think the title of the book could have been?

3. If Marty had not been a journalist, driven to seek the truth, how do you think that he might have reacted differently to such events as the disappearances of children, or to the loss of his own son, Sebastian?

4. Why do you think that, despite his obsession with the truth, it was easy for Marty to convince himself that what happened in the library wasn’t real? Why do you think this was important for him to do at the time?

5. What is something you remember from a childhood book that you loved, but cannot recall the title or the author? (Bonus points if you can help another Mountie find the title of their own book!)

6. Have you ever experienced something inexplicable in your life that you dismissed as being a figment of your imagination?

7. What was your initial reaction to TMPv1? What hooked you into the story?

As always, Mountaineers, if you can pick out any themes or Easter Eggs from this week, please feel free to share! Your original thoughts, related ideas, or favorite lines from the book are always welcome in our discussion. If you have any questions, don’t hesitate to @ me or another Guild Leader for guidance.

CREATIVE PROMPT: The theme of the chapter selection of this week is “The Lost, The New.” The header art of this week was created by the masterful @Revenir! Using the theme of this week for inspiration, please share with us your own written/visual/auditory creation.

Please enjoy this week’s YouTube Playlist, courtesy of Martin Rank:


The Welcome Super Topic: Come Say Hello!
#2

I’m so insanely excited for the Book Club! Thanks Leaders, and Deyavi in particular, for putting this together.

A quick heads up… I may post at the beginning of the topic each week, some thoughts or behind-the-scenes stuff regarding the chapters, but otherwise I want this to be a place for you to discuss the books freely, without worrying about the author hovering over you. :cjsmile:

But if you have a question, thought, or want me to join in on a particular topic, just @ me!


#3

This will be my third time reading TMPv1, once with the ARC and once on my own after my paper back copy first arrived.

To speak to the question of “what hooked you” - I think it’s the overall cohesiveness of the narrative. Having joined, like Deyavi, in Phase Three, I had to go back and piece the earlier narrative together, while also balancing the ongoing, present narrative and the everyday challenges of my normal life, so, not all that successfully. Lord knows I came up with some dopey suggestions early on during TMP before I really splashed in with both feet and learned what was going on. Reading it, as a narrative, through the eyes of a beloved character really made it more salient for me. It made it click for me in a way that I couldn’t get it to on my own during TMP itself.

Otherwise, reading the books and thinking about the Mandela effect makes me realize how often I think about how it’s happening, but weirdly can’t come up with any specific examples. I feel like it happens all the time between myself and my staff regarding clients to my office. But again, my thoughts are blocked about specific examples. Maybe that’s part of it?


#4

Do you guys think the line in the first chapter describing the asylum where it says he felt like was looking up from the bottom of a well foreshadowing about magiq Wells? Is the Octagon a well? Is that why the butterflies and the guide were able to manifest there?


#5

Oh. My. Bob. I literally have read this book 6 times now, these chapters even more, and I never. Caught. That. And your theory makes absolute sense. It would explain why Marty was so drawn to it and why that visit kicked off so many of the events that would follow, however indirectly.


#6

What hooked me?

Well I was a bit nervous at the thought of a book after being part of the things unfolding online, with questions swirling in my head like will this just be a really good summary of everything rather than a new adventure? Honestly, I couldn’t imagine the stress that would put on CJ. Once I started it and found out it was narrated from Marty’s point of view I was completely hooked. See, Marty is one of my favourite characters, well they’re all my favourite, but he’s just a little more my favourite, but not as much as Augie. Tangent aside, I was S T O K E D to see everything unfolding from his eyes, to learn his thoughts, especially since he ended up becoming so important to the narrative. Oh boy did it surpass my expectations.

Fangirling out of the way, I think Marty convinced himself that the events at the library were just a seizure, because that’s what humans do. We write off crazy stuff as something palatable that makes sense. On top of that I can’t imagine the immense guilt and regret of having your own child be oblivious to existence. So it was probably to help him partially accept and cope with that fact rather than running in the what if cycle forever.
If any of that makes sense.

I’m unsure if this is a true Mandela effect moment, but it’s fun so I’ll tell it anyways. There’s this super duper famous radio broadcast of Sir Winston Churchill giving his famous rally the troop speech from WWII. Looooooooooots of people swear on their life that they tuned in and listened to that broadcast as it was happening live over the airwaves, as the allies were raiding the beaches of Western Europe, BUUUUTTT the only people to actually hear this iconic speech as it was being delivered were those present in the House of Commons at parliament that day. The speech was recorded as with most things in the House, and was only turned into a broadcast recording some years later.


#7

Oh man. Here we go. I’ll just touch on a couple of these for now!

A book I read as a child that I can no longer remember the title or name of. The premise of the book was teenage romance. The heroine moves to a new school where she meets a boy and becomes infatuated. Turns out the boy is a monster, who is bound to a cursed cave, and can only leave the cave and appear human when the sun is shining. He ends up causing a cave in with dynamite he stole from her father to protect her from being trapped in the cave like him. The boy was a couple hundred years old and his father had abandoned him in the cave after he had rescued his father from it first.

An example of the Mandela effect: the line you think you remember most from Star Wars, even if you have never seen it. “Luke, I am your father!” Never happened. Instead, the line was “No! I am your father!” But billions of people all over the world remember it the other way.


#8

A book I read as a child that I can’t remember the name of… Mum actually read this one out loud during a road trip. It was about a handful of mice traveling or on some sort of quest? At one point they found another kindly rodent and it let them stay in it’s burrow and eat grain it had gathered. In the morning the grain turned into maggots and the stranger revealed itself as an evil mouse wizard? Idk it sounds even weirder written down.


#9

As for why Marty chose to convince himself that nothing happened in the library, I think it’s easy for people to convince themselves something wasn’t real/can’t have happened if it seems unlikely. It’s hard for people to accept things that go against their worldview/how they see the world. In a way it remind me a bit of the ‘Somebody else’s problem’ from the Hitchhikers Guide through the Galaxy (though it’s been years since I’ve read those books, so I might be off in how I remember them) The brain just edits things out that it can’t comprehend. Which is why I think that it was important to Marty, because otherwise he wouldn’t have been able to deal with/handle the situation. It was a way of protecting himself, imo.

As for inexplicable things in my life, I had a nightlight that broke, and after a few months of ignoring it started working again. I used to tell my brother gnomes had fixed it for me when I was little.

What hooked me into the story was the link with reality. Finding a link to the magic test, and that same test being as magical and amazing as it was, it got me so interested in the world. I made my mum do the test too and she wanted to start reading the books afterwards as well, so I feel like the magic test is just a great introduction into the books/story overall.


#10

I can’t help myself. :cjsmile:

So much of TMP, and the Magiq/Briarverse is built on my weird interests. Old New York (City Hall station and Roosevelt Island’s asylum), books that I don’t fully remember but have nostalgia for nonetheless (there was a middle-grade detective series called T.A.C.K. that I just recently recovered from the depths of my mind.) and of course, The Mandela Effect.

You should keep a look out for our Instagram Stories today. @AG_Catherine and I went on a little NYC/TMP field trip yesterday, and got QUITE a surprise.


#11

Oh. My. Word. Yes, folks, if you haven’t seen the insta-stories on the AGP Instagram account, you need to. I got chills!


#12

My brain is a bit fried at the moment, but I wanted to bring up an old little tidbit about the Magiqverse, based on question 3.

Marty was supposed to just be an easter egg. I think it was brought up several times, but the most prominent is in the Making of the Monarch Papers podcast.

But I honestly think of that a lot. In Fragment 3, Martin Rank was a character CJ thought up on the fly for the newspaper tidbit. Like the whole of his character was being a reporter on this case. And he was meant to be an easter egg for Phase Two, his email was a shoutout to those who had been around for Phase One. Until we got the inkling to reach out to him, to pursue that trail.

Sometimes it astounds me how much CJ let us explore. He could have redirected us, or tamped down on our ideas. Maybe the email doesn’t exist, or doesn’t respond, or maybe Marty responded once and then never again. But he took it all the way. He realized we were into this character and he developed him into something awesome, including him in future narratives and even placing him as the narrator of this book series.

It just…blows my mind how willing CJ was to explore our ideas, to go in directions we wanted to and actually incorporate them into the narrative, instead of just finding a way to railroad us back to some other plot line. I’ve never had an experience like that.

And when I open the book and I read that beautiful, elegant prose of Marty exploring the asylum, it makes me think of how this character almost never existed in the narrative. But he does and he’s tied to this amazing series.

It just makes me feel really awesome and, I don’t know, valid? It’s an awesome feeling to have as a reader. CJ is such a masterful writer that he can do these things. It blows my mind.


#13

The greatest Easter Egg of all, Marty Rank


#14

For you die-hards, the 2 minute video of the City Hall trip, set to Deirdre’s Theme. :cjheart:

I brightened it just a little so you can really see the glass vaults above the City Hall signs and the main hall.


#15

Pretty sure thats redguard, or whatever it was called

Edit: redwall! The series is 22 books long. Heres the list


#16

You found it! You actually found it! All the bonus points to you


#17

Seriously? I read this thing maybe once when i was 7 or 8, loved them but wasnt able to find em after. I really oughta track em down again.


#18

I loved Redwall when I was younger, although I found it somewhat later than most of my peers. The author, Brian Jacques, also wrote a series called “Castaways of the Flying Dutchman” which I also highly recommend.

I think reading this introduction to the narrative really cemented my love of Marty as a character. I love the way his mind seems to work, how he describes his surroundings in particular shapes and tones. And while I’m mentioning the intro - can we talk about the ash butterflies? I’m super fascinated by them. Are they real butterflies, or was Marty right at first that he was imagining them? Are they magical somehow? Aside from bringing up the Monarch Papers title call and the Butterfly Effect theme, what are they doing there? Because they could easily just be a literary device, especially with the question of What if Marty had taken the book? on the table, but I want to believe they’re more than that. Like, a manifestation of something magical reaching out and hoping for someone to take an action or make a choice that resolves an open loop, or completes some sort of spell? (Also I’ve been through Until Dawn one too many times it’s whatever.)


#19

screams this is what I was thinking. Magiq was reaching out for Marty even then, trying to call him home and reveal its secrets.


#20

I was so fascinated by them as well! I thought them to be magical, but like Marty said, they could have been his imagination. To me however, they are what made the scene so magical, and especially with the books disappearing afterwards it just felt like they were real.