Tuesday, November 23, 2010

Review by Shellie: PATHFINDER ~ by Orson Scott Card



It’s release day for PATHFINDER ~ book one in the Serpent World series!

It’s a dryly humorous young adult science fiction novel which includes the elements of time travel and the building blocks of an amazing and science filled world.

My Blurb:  Our main character, Rigg, is a teen boy who has a special ability that he has taken for granted. He can see the paths of almost every living thing including those who have existed in the past. He lives in what appears to be a “medieval like” world which is not as it first appears. He is joined by a variety of interesting characters including several other young adults with other curious abilities all related to time travel, as well as a few supporting adults. All setting up for what I imagine to be an epic young adult hero series.

Here is the interesting bit - juxtaposed through the story is a ship traveling through space which houses another young man, Ram, who is the human caretaker of its immense and valuable contents. As the ship does some time travel of its own, which the author blends via multiverse theory, both stories are linked and interwoven and will keep the reader guessing.

Thoughts:  I love young adult science fiction, and this is it at its best. Although we are given only a taste of what the extensive world will entail in this first of the series, it’s just enough to excite me to read more when the others are released.

Orson Scott Card has included some great characters - strong women, men of character, feisty teens, and with antagonists that are not clichéd and which feel human yet flawed. There are some interesting lessons for the main targeted audience, young men (and perhaps geeky girls), such as rhetoric theory, and the beginning of understanding a business savvy of sorts. The author does a wonderful job of telling the story from dialog which I think a lot of young men would enjoy. There is light potty humor and realistic and light references to sexuality which grounds the book for a mature young adult audience.

My only niggle about the book would be my inability to “completely get” the “magical time travel” aspect of the story. It was just beyond my grasp and I was left feeling confused. So instead I focused on the science, character building, great dialog and dry humor, and trusted in the story’s process. The version I read was an ARC so perhaps some of this concern was addressed.

The most exciting bit is that there are quite a few interesting scientific theories progressing within this first book of the series. It looks like this promising world will bring in some theory around genetics and what appears to a grand biological experiment. But that’s the thing with experienced story tellers, you can only guess what will happen next since they toss you little bits at a time. 

As my first foray into Scott Card’s fiction writing I would say that I enjoyed this book immensely and would rate it a 4 star, and am very much looking forward to finding out what this promising world entails.

Amazon purchasing links for US/UK/Canada.

*This book will be a great holiday gift for a number of nerdy folks, children and adults – highly recommended!

For more information on Pathfinder please see Layers of Thought’s preview for the book, which includes publisher’s blurb, author data, as well as purchasing links.

This book will be included in The Basic’s Challenge, The 42, and The Speculative Fiction Challenge.

Thanks for reading!


Andrea said...

I love Card's book in general so I can't wait to read this one. Interesting note about the magical time travel.

Unknown said...

Andrea -
I guess all time travel is magical if you really think about it.... or just theory. I think that since I did not quite understand it I put quotation marks around it. Its probably not quite right.

This is my first book by him and I jumped at the chance to review it. I love love YA sci fi. It was great and I did not even notice it was a tome.

I wish the second book was out and that I had loads of time to read it. :)

Simcha said...

This is actually the first positive review I've read of this book.
I loved his Alvin the Maker books when I was younger and I thought this book looked interesting but I think I'm going to hold off on reading it for a while until I read some more reviews.

Unknown said...

Simcha -
I think its a great book.. but I luv luv good science based Sci Fi. Which this is.

I have seen a few reviews. Actually one five star, and a two star, an excellent one at that, but she was feeling a bit biased due to Card's religious views.

I am one of those readers who can't rely on the crowd, I have a few folks I really trust within each genre....and generally go on intuition.

It also helps to be able to read the first few chapters of a book without purchasing it, which is why I love my nook.

Will definitely be curious about what you think about the book if you decide to read it.

David Macaulay said...

I don't normally read much sci fi but you certainly make this sound interesting.

Unknown said...

Cheers David -
This was a fun read. But I do love Sci Fi!

Perhaps you come back later for a few other genres since we do read a huge variety. John (the hubby) would enjoy a chat with another UK guy too.

Alexia561 said...

Great review! Orson Scott Card is hit or miss for me, as I either love the book or can't stand it. I'm not big on science-based Sci Fi, so may skip this one.

Unknown said...

Alexia -
Thanks :)
There is not too much Sci Fi in this so don't let that scare you off.

Hit or miss. Hmmm.... I am hearing a lot about that for his books lately. I think I will try his book Enchantment next which I guess is an offshoot for a fairytale of sorts?
have you read it?

Alexia561 said...

Enchantment is one of my favorites! A nice twist on an old fairy tale. Hope you like it!

Unknown said...

Me too Alexia... it sounds fun. Thanks :)

From your comments here it appears you enjoy fantasy as opposed to science fiction. With me I think I like Sci Fi more but do enjoy fantasy too.

Anonymous said...

If you like sci fi and this book whick I will be reading the near future, you should definite read Ender's Game which one of those books I need to reread every year, because it was that good the first time around.

Thank you for your review, I'm now excite to read this new series.

Unknown said...

Anon -
I really enjoyed this and have Ender's Game on my huge teetering pile. Have you seen my goodread's shelves? Goodness.

I did in fact plan to listen to it in audio. But will wait a few years since I will need to read the next in this series.

Stop back by, I will be curious as to what you think of Pathfinder as compared with Ender's Game.

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