It is Ben who first feels the pull, but when he resists, his friends one by one succumb--to a glowing orb, deep in a pool, which draws them, gives them peace, and saps their minds and bodies until they turn to pure light and then vanish. The same force that is taking his friends (Ben compares it to drugs; he might also have mentioned Moonies) also prevents Ben from warning the adults or talking about it directly to anyone--but then his wise teacher/boarder Mr. Osenko begins to offer advice via quotes from Shakespeare and other greats. This prompts Ben, in a scene that outdoes the ridiculous cultural name-dropping in A Wrinkle in Time, to arm himself with books, art reproductions, and a guitar, and confront the orb with ""our heritage of individual thought, the products of individual great minds."" Ben's humanism and sense of self eventually prove stronger than the enemy, which Ben sees as some colony-creature from space bent on absorbing the earthlings into ""some collective mediocrity""; and his awareness of ""the self as part of Forever"" allows him to save his friends by descending to the heart of the orb. But whatever second-hand ideas might be swirling around in this half-baked pedants' pudding, the Carlsons not only fail to embody them in character and action, they don't even engage readers in the battle by providing any real thoughts.