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PATHFINDER by Orson Scott Card

PATHFINDER

By Orson Scott Card

Age Range: 12 & up

Pub Date: Nov. 23rd, 2010
ISBN: 978-1-4169-9176-2
Publisher: Simon Pulse/Simon & Schuster

A brain-bending bildungsroman kicks off a promising science-fiction series. Rigg has spent all his 13 years trapping in the wild, aided by his peculiar ability to trace the past of any living being, until his enigmatic father's death thrusts Rigg into a wider world to search for his previously unknown sister. His friend Umbo (whose own special talent is slowing down time) tags along when they discover that their gifts can combine in unexpected ways. Rigg, Umbo and their various allies and enemies are likable characters (if preternaturally clever, witty and self-aware), and their interactions believable and charming. Their planet proves fascinating to explore, despite the highly implausible juxtaposition of advanced theoretical science with pre-industrial technology. The implications of the boys' power to manipulate the past unfold cleverly (if with interminable analytic dithering), feeding into the Machiavellian political intrigue for a pulse-pounding climax. Casual sexist references, a weird fascination with excretory functions and a baffling authorial afterword explaining "what ‘really’ happened" may put some readers off; still, Card's many fans will be thrilled by this return to his literary roots. (Science fiction. 12 & up)