The Ear, the Eye, and the Arm ~ Nancy Farmer

the ear the eye and the armSummary:  Zimbabwe, 2194, is a future beyond anything you would have imagined.  Overcrowded cities and miles of wasteland are home to dangerous gangs, many of which have been wiped out by the fearsome but kind-hearted war general, General Matsika.  Now a father to three children, he lives in a mansion with his wife, kids, and robot maids.  His kids, Tendai, Rita, and Kuda, have been secluded from the world and instead are taught war strategy and foreign languages.  A day when both of their parents are gone for work, they decide to earn a “Scout Badge” for exploration.  Having nowhere to explore but the gardens, they take a secret trip to the city… and soon disappear.  Their parents send three detectives after them, called Ear, Eye, and Arm.  They travel all over the huge city looking for them, but the kid’s adventures keep them on the move – and constantly in the path of danger.

Recommendation:  This book has science fiction, action/adventure, and fantasy all rolled up into one.  Many of the story’s characters have really fun personalities.  The detectives’ superpowers don’t stop them from having their own, sometimes hilarious, weaknesses.  For example, Ear is constantly fainting in the heat of battle.   Something that I kept thinking about while reading this book was how the author imagined the future.  Even though it was written 20 years ago, I don’t think it would have changed much had it been written today because even in 2014 everything in it felt incredibly futuristic.  The Automatic Doberman and the Mile-High Building come to mind.  Mixed in with the futuristic elements is a strange presence of the past, as embodied in the bizarre dwelling of Resthaven; I can’t say more without spoiling it!

Favorite Passage:  “Plastic hadn’t been used for a hundred years, not since the energy famine of the twenty-first century.  He had seen plastic bowls and cups in museums, but the raw material lay all around them here.  It was torn and greasy and caked with mud, but it was still plastic.”


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