If the Old World is so grounded in hard physics, how is it possible for the gods to have ever existed there in the first place? What part of the "software" allows for Clap Your Hands If You Believe?
Most likely, magic existed in the Old World originally, but the gods took it with them when they left. Senna's explanation of how her powers are stronger in Everworld than in the Old World implies that it is the abundance of a particular resource(the glow) in Everworld that fuels magic, as opposed to the rules being different.
What happened in the Old World immediately after Fenrir snatched Senna? That was when the group split in two, and it seems that their clothes/backpack/etc. weren't split (judging from David looking in his closet and seeing his Radiohead shirt and such missing, plus references to April needing a new chemistry book) - so were they all out at the lake naked? Or was there a time distortion of some sort, and they all thought it was All Just a Dream until the first CNN: Breaking News?
Time distortion of some sort.
How about, why couldn't it end with a little more dignity?
I had heard it was because there was still a bit of hope that the series would be Only Barely Renewed, so the ending was deliberately left open and ambiguous.
Although given the author is K.A. Applegate, the "real" end, if the series had been renewed, may not have been much better.
Here's the author talking about it during an AMA on Reddit, if this clears anything up:
Reddit user: Are you satisfied with how EverWorld ended? It wasn't very satisfactory as a reader. Can you explain why you ended it the way you did?
Applegate: I'm not happy with the EW ending. Basically I overcommitted. We could keep up with 140 pages a month — barely — but Everworld was 250. We got in over our heads.
Different Reddit user: how does EW end?
Applegate: In an exhausted, burned out wheeze. By the 4th Remnants and the next to last Everworld, we were burned out. Really done for. 150 books between 1989 and whatever it was, 2000. It was nuts and we had to stop. We didn't write at all for about 5 years.
What was the deal with Senna deciding to suddenly go Axe Crazy at the end of the seventh book? There was never a reason given.
Whatever the reasoning was, it was at least better than her going completely effin' nuts in the eleventh book.
This troper always viewed her going Axe Crazy in the 11th book as another act. I have little doubt her little gun happy buddies would have killed her if she didn't act the part and she probably knew that too. She had to be big, bad, and even more psychotic then them to keep the group under control. The fact that she is an obvious sociopath simply made acting the part easier.
According to Senna herself, ". . . Had to be. There was no avoiding it. Not over the long haul." Maybe Senna's unpredictable visions of the future allowed her to see what the author had in store for her.
Or in the case of the last book, Senna, being the Axe Crazy sadist she is, let her power go to her head. It seemed to me like Senna was always a little psycho, and her control frequently slipped at stressful moments (such as the Book 7 ending perhaps). Then she gets her hands on real power, and just totally loses it.
Calling Senna an Axe Crazy sadist who goes psycho whenever her concentration slips is a gross oversimplification of a much more complex character. It's like saying that someone does something 'cause they're just evil. She didn't seem to be struggling to contain violent outbursts when we actually saw her viewpoint in book nine, unless you count spiteful thinking.
Didn't say whenever her concentration slips. I said she was always a little psycho underneath her facade, and that from the start she sees the other kids as pawns. When things didn't go her way, she did on occasion, Freak Out. So with all the power she'd gained in Book 11, maybe she just let herself go, and was able to Freak Out (and consequently fail) on a much grander scale. Also, it's pretty clear from early in the series that Senna is going down. She's really not that redeemable, she's not the type to pull a Heroic Sacrifice, and the author sure as heck couldn't let her win. Maybe I'm a lone freak on this, but I always thought Senna's breakdown was fairly well foreshadowed.
Wait, so she had slight breakdowns when things didn't go her way, yet had a full one when things went exactly the way she wanted it? That makes no effin' sense! A full-on breakdown would have been well foreshadowed if her power trip in Book 11 backfired on her and THEN she went nuts, but getting what she wanted (great power, an army of followers from Earth, etc.) and nothing going wrong at the moment...I see no reason why that would cause her to suddenly become a pyscho sadistic MWAHAHAHAHA villain, aside from the fact that it made her much easier to defeat than she would have been otherwise.
No, what I'm getting at is that she was always a little nuts. Her breakdowns are simply proof of that. When she got all that power, an army of followers who were loyal to her because of that power, and not because of who she was, and what she thought was the ability to hold both Merlin and Loki at bay she simply no longer needed the help of the sane characters, and let herself go. Associating with Keith will do that to a girl.
Why were the characters so concerned about the gods escaping into the Old World? It's nothing the military couldn't handle...
They were worried about the social chaos caused by an old bunch of gods turning out to really exist.
Understandable, I guess. Even if the gods never managed to come even close to conquering the Earth, I suppose proof of their existence could rock society. Nonetheless, it doesn't seem like something you'd put your life on the line to try and prevent.
The military might be able to stop the gods, but they'd still kill a lot of people and hurt even more before the army a) realised what was going on, and b) managed to stop them. Even preventing a few thousand deaths is worth doing.
Is it even possible for mortals to kill gods? From what I can remember, the only gods who die are those that are eaten by Ka Anor and the rest of the mortal vs. god fights are: Galahad stabs Loki, who is more irritated than harmed; Dionysus beats down some Hetwan, is unharmed; Ganymede is essentially tackled by dozens of Hetwan, hogtied, and thrown to Ka Anor, none of which is actually harmful until the end; Ares and Herakles slaughter untold numbers of Hetwan without any real injuries; and Keith shoots some Egyptian god in the head, who doesn't even notice. While Sven is able to blow Huitzilopoctli's arm off, and presumedly could have killed him with a headshot, he had to use Mjolnir to do it. The only Maybe would be that Sobek had to duck the amazon queen's coo-hatch blade, and there isn't any evidence that that would be more than just painful; not to mention the fact that coo-hatch steel is borderline magical and therefore hardly qualifies as a mortal weapon. Sure the Sennites could kill Fomorians, and even Fenrir, but there isn't really any evidence that mortal weapons could cause gods any serious harm and plenty of evidence to the contrary; like the fact that if the Olympians actually got up and fought they could easily destroy the Hetwan invasion.
The series flip-flops on this issue to no end throughout the books. At first it's stated by the Vikings that only gods or mortals wielding the weapon of a god can harm a deity. Mjolnir does major damage to Huitzilopotchli, like you said, as can be expected. However, the protagonists also attacked the Aztec god's foot with their standard weapons. The book states that their swords and axes bit deep into the flesh of his foot (the only thing they could reach), but drew no blood. Later, the Knights of the Round Table gang up on Loki. They do some decent damage to him throughout the ensuing battles, but never manage to kill him. Finally a dragon engulfs him in the equivalent of napalm. Galahad states that even this wouldn't kill Loki and clarifies mortal creatures can temporarily diminish and incapacitate a god, but not kill them. This is backed up by the fact that Loki doesn't show up again until the very end of the series. There are your examples with Ganymede/Dionysus, and it's worth noting that Christopher said not even a god could survive the fall into the crater surrounding Junkie Dreamtown; granted, he's hardly a reliable source. Christopher stabs an African minor god with a bronze spear, which forms a "dent" in his chest but does not pierce the skin or cause any lasting damage. The Egyptian ram god that Keith fires at may or may not have been seriously harmed; Senna doesn't stick around to watch the results. Keith apparently survived, though. There are other examples, but the best evidence for the gods being vulnerable is (as noted below), the death of Fenrir. It's implied that he's very, very dead after the barrage of gunfire. I always assumed that gods can be killed by mortals with mortal weapons, but it's very difficult due to their inherent resistance to physical damage and relatively fast regeneration. It's just a matter of doing a lot of heavy damage in a short amount of time (not to mention being thorough). This difficulty mixed with superstition created the attitude among Everworlders that gods are mostly invulnerable to mortal weapons. This is understandable, since it's easier to do a lot of damage with guns and high explosives than with swords and spears.
Just a bit of Fridge Logic here: It's not that the series flip-flops, it's that these different events happen in different domains and with different gods, which are subject to different rules. Hell, as is seen with dragons and the African gods, even the laws of physics aren't the same from place to place.
Well, normally I would agree with that. However, dialogue from multiple characters seems to point toward more or less consistent amounts of durability between the gods, at least in regards to mortals harming them. It's talked about like it's a universal thing.
Fenrir wasn't just a big wolf; he was a Norse God, the son of Loki, and in the original mythology, he was capable of harming or killing even other gods such as Tyr (bit his hand off) and Odin himself (killing him in the end). He was killed in Everworld by an entire group of Sennites blasting him with submachine guns. It isn't likely that any individual mortal could kill a god without a godly/enchanted weapon, but it does seem that sufficient damage from mortal weapons can kill a god before they regenerate—unless Fenrir was just momentarily crippled by extreme damage and got up again some time after the core four left the area. It's unlikely that the Hetwan would stand much chance against gods, but that is probably do to the fact that they have no high-tech weaponry whatsoever, aside from their acid-shooters. Weaponry from the twenty-first century, used in concentration, is another story.
The main characters are always talking about how they need to find a way back to the Old World, which is the reason why they're following Senna in the first several books. If going home is such a priority, why don't they just ask Senna to open the gateway sometime in books 8-10? Did they somehow forget that they're traveling with the freaking living gateway who can get them home in a snap?
Senna is frickin nuts, and in the later books they need to get home without breaking her emotionally even further or (if I recall the order of events correctly) letting the gods follow them home.
They could have asked Senna to open the gateway, sure, but I doubt it would have done much good since Senna wants them to stay in Everworld and could easily just refuse.
If Senna has the powers to erase people's memories and make them believe lies, why doesn't she just use those powers to make the core four totally loyal to her, as David is, without bothering with the active mind-control? Make them all forget she's a witch and insert several false memories of her saving their lives and being wonderful. It would have solved a lot of her problems before they happened . . .
Senna's not that powerful early on, and she'd have to get each of them alone to do it, something that no one other than David will allow to happen. By the 11th book she might have been able to do it, but at that point she has her own army, so what does she need them for?
Senna could manipulate minds from the start; she didn't need to gain any extra powers to do that. She did it to David as early as the third book, and she could have plenty of opportunities given her powers to cast illusions. She could even cross over to the Old World when they're asleep in Everworld and do it there, if she wanted to. She also got Christopher alone in the second book, David and April alone (except for each other) in the third book, Jalil alone in the fourth book, David alone two or three times in the fifth book, etc. She sometimes also talks to one or another as an individual out of hearing of the others, such as Jalil in book eight or April in books 3 and 9.
Also, keep in mind that, even when she had the Sennites with her, Senna considered the core four a crucial threat and veryharshlypunished one Sennite for failing to capture them. Never at any point did she decide that they were useless and not worth her attention. Even if she had decided that she no longer wanted them, she would still have very strongly desired to eliminate the threat they posed in any way that she could.
It seems that until the end of the series Senna's powers over them (especially Jalil) were actually fairly limited. It physically exhausted her to force Christopher to try her blood and even David eventually broke free of her control when she pushed him too far.
Senna most certainly was not powerful enough to casually dominate the minds of the core four from the beginning. It tires her out to do it near the end of the series (with her powers having increased exponentially over time) in Everworld (where, once again, her powers are a lot more impressive). That being said, she isn't powerless in the real world; she was capable of bewitching David and reaching out to him in his dreams. April and Senna both talk about how she would often mess with April's memory, and she once scared the shit out of April by casting an illusion to make herself appear as Gollum one night when they were both children. However, these are all things which presumably sapped her reserves quite a bit. They're also quite subtle and quite possibly took time to put in place, particularly with the memory-tweaking and bewitching David. David, it should be noted, was a special case as he already had demons in his closet and had an ACTUAL attraction to Senna; it wasn't purely magic at work.
During my Fridge Logic reflections on the series, I always sort of wondered why Senna didn't take steps to eliminate the core four in the real world during Book 11. As mentioned above, she clearly saw them as a considerable threat. They were helping to single-handedly hold a castle against her army of Sennites and causing considerable casualties in the process. It doesn't seem implausible that she'd order some of the Sennites to murder them in the real world, or possibly kidnap them/their families for leverage. With how powerful she was by Book 11, there are a lot of creative ways she could have gone into the real world and taken them out, it seems. Conversely, I suppose it's possible she didn't want the attention that multiple murders/kidnappings would cause in a suburban neighborhood. The authorities investigating the crimes and tracing them back to the Sennite network dismantle the whole system. In addition, was Senna even aware that killing one version of the core four would also kill the one in the other universe?
W-wait! When April kills Senna, she's described as traumatized afterward and "covered in her half-sister's blood." OK, so...why the hell isn't she poisoned? I thought witch's blood was poisonous!
It's supposed to be; it eats through grass on contact, can make an entire area lie fallow for very long periods afterwards, and the mere contact of it was supposedly strong enough to kill the world-tree that supported the African afterlife. Really, it doesn't make sense.
Why is Hel's city guarded by eunuchs? Eunuchs guarded harems in real life, but those were of women, and the idea was to make sure that the sultan's wives (or whatever) weren't cheating on him with one of the servants. Does Hel particularly care if her future conquests have had some homosexual hanky-panky? (...For that matter, would her powers work on a gay man?)
Hel's powers appear to be affecting the brain directly (chemically or magically), and thus, regardless of sexual orientation, men are affected by her powers. Perhaps her powers require the subject to have functional male genitalia and so don't work on the eunuchs, who have been mutilated.
Or maybe they require certain male brain chemistry, in which case male-to-female transgendered people would be unaffected, while female-to-male would be affected.
It seems like eunuchs actually do a pretty good job of hitting that sweet spot between sexual innuendo (they do guard harems) and horror (but they're also permanently mutilated) that would appeal to Hel.
It's yes on both counts. Hel is the type of God who wouldn't want anyone playing with her toys, reguardless of their sexual preference. And her powers would work on a gay man since there's two instances in the series where the main cast have been attracted to a God of the same gender. Chris was attracted to Ganymede and April was attracted to Aphrodite despite both of them saying that they were straight.