Tuesday, June 5, 2012

The Obsidian Blade by Pete Hautman

Thirteen-year-old Tucker's dad is a pastor who is replacing a shingle on the roof when he disappears into a disk that is hovering nearby. A short time later he reappears with a girl, Lahlia, who looks like she's from another world. When Tucker pounds him with questions, his dad won't talk about what happened on the roof and denies he "disappeared." But when he announces at dinner that there is "no God" and he has no faith, Tucker knows something happened to him. Not to mention the weird blue paint on his feet when he got back with Lahlia. Then Tucker's mom starts to lose her mind and his dad takes her to a hospital that Tucker suspects is not in this world.

Tucker goes to live with his uncle where he sees another disk on his uncle's roof. He climbs to the roof  and when the disk sucks Tucker into an alternate world, he finds himself on the top of the World Trade Towers just before they fall. His uncle is on the World Trade Towers too but he doesn't recognize Tucker because he has been sucked in by the disk at a different time in history. A time before he knew Tucker. The two escape and Tucker begins to learn how the disks work and who is behind the technology that manipulates history.

This book is for middle school and up. Before each chapter there is an explanation of the people who built the disk/portal technology that is vague and uses high vocabulary. There are several different factions that readers need to keep track of and the jumping back and forth in time during the second part of the book is going to be difficult for most young readers to follow.

The start of the book is slow with the setup of a stereotypical fundamentalist preacher, an unhappy housewife, and Tucker as the energetic, bored teen who likes to put excitement in his life by doing crazy things. The second half of the book is full of action and violence.

The plot leaves the reader with more questions than answers that I'm sure the second book will pick up on and start to explain. I think the author tackles too much and the story loses its focus. The themes are huge and abundant delving into topics such as religious beliefs and fanatics, technologically advanced societies, authoritarian leaders, and the degeneration of societies. It overwhelms the plot at times but is also interesting. Because so many topics are covered they are touched on. I think if less topics were tackled there'd be more depth and focus. I found the fundamentalist fanatics and religious aspect the least interesting and more stereotyped; whereas, the notion of digital societies causing physical and psychological illnesses in people, as well as, manipulation of history was more fascinating.

Tucker's dad loses his faith because of aliens who heal him and his mom develops autistic tendencies from playing Sudoku. I think the plot would have been stronger if his mom had developed some weird Plague from using her cell phone or interacting with some technology. He coins the phrase "digital Plague" that creates all sorts of intriguing possibilities. The author was trying to tie the Sudoku in with the use of numbers by the aliens but I think she should have been playing it on a computer or phone.

Lahlia's story is not really told but it hints at the end that it will be in the next book. She's a Pure Girl who is supposed to be sacrificed by priests in the future and in a strange twist that I don't want to spoil for you, this ends up showing up in the past during Tucker's time. There isn't really an ending to the story but a setup for the sequel.

This is a weird book and reminds me of Pathfinder, by Orson Scott Card which has multiple time travels and Year of the Flood by Margaret Atwood.

Reading Level Young Adult
3 out of 5 Smileys

No comments:

Post a Comment