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The Ear, the Eye, and the Arm

3.84  ·  Rating Details  ·  11,539 Ratings  ·  694 Reviews
In 2194 in Zimbabwe, General Matsika's three children are kidnapped and put to work in a plastic mine while three mutant detectives use their special powers to search for them.
Hardcover, 311 pages
Published April 1st 1994 by Orchard Books (NY) (first published January 1st 1994)
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(showing 1-30 of 3,000)
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Dec 24, 2007 Marielle rated it liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: childrens
I enjoyed this book, but it had problems.

The story is about a group of 3 children who go out into the world and get kidnapped. Excessively. They get kidnapped, and escape, and then kidnapped again, and escape, over and over again. To the point where it stops being believable.

The other problem is that the author set out to write a sci-fi novel. I know this, because she says so in the introduction. It is not a sci-fi novel. The book has a bunch of stock sci-fi features, but they are randomly stuc
Brendan W.
Jan 12, 2011 Brendan W. rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: awesome
This book is amazing. Period. End of story.
Last year, when I was strolling through the classroom library, I came upon this book. I saw the cover and I said, "This is the best cover ever." Others may disagree with that statement, but I'm me and I thought it looked awesome. I decided to give it a shot. BAM! It blew me away. KAPOW! It knocked my socks off. ZIP! I read it so fast because it was so FREAKING AWESOME! This author, Nancy Farmer, does a FANTASTIC job developing the characters in separat
Kevin Xu
Aug 10, 2011 Kevin Xu rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
I first read this book back a little over ten years ago on the recommendation of my English teacher. One of the best young adult book I have ever read. The best parts are all the characters are so fresh and lively, the settling is top to none. It is a book that is felt with everything for me. A book that just grabs the reader right in and never lets go. I never felt I was in Africa at all.

Farmer is a great writer that I see rise with more Middle School readers reading her later books, especially
Feb 13, 2012 Anna rated it it was ok  ·  review of another edition
Recommends it for: No one
This book has taken me about a year to finish. It' odd though because the story or the writing kept drawing me back in. I found it difficult to build sympathy for the characters. The detectives hired to find the lost children are bumbling oafs and are always one step behind. The children themselves are thrust into the same scenario of "captured"/"escaped" over and over again. I can't truly explain what is missing from this book - I think it may be the lack of backstory or the inability to define ...more
Dec 05, 2008 Keegan rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
This was a really (junior high level) amazing foray into ideas about identity, belonging, and cultural purity/evolution. The amazing detectives (named in the title) who discover, ultimately and by accident, the whereabouts of the Security Chief's kidnapped children are blessed/cursed with special abilities as a result of a radioactive accident in their anscestor's past. This futuristic novella dares to set itself in the (probable?) world of 22nd century Zimbabwe. Surprisingly, matters of color a ...more
Feb 07, 2009 Abby rated it liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: teen, sf
I really appreciated that the fact that this SF novel was set in Zimbabwe and actually incorporated myths and traditions from Zimbabwean culture into the story -- very few SF novels take place in non-Western settings and feature non-white protagonists, almost no teen SF novels do this. Another strong point was the nuanced depiction of Resthaven, the seemingly idyllic throwback to premodern Africa hidden in the heart of the city -- Farmer deftly demonstrates to young readers that it is foolish to ...more
Aug 01, 2014 Drew rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Great memories of this book, if only because it was so different from anything else I'd read at age 12 or so. I'd hate to read it again and have those memories ruined, but I still kind of want to. Because dystopian Zimbabwe, supernatural detectives, and spirits in masks.
Greg Kerestan
Young adult novel? Check. Zimbabwean backwoods journey? Check. Cyberpunk futurist setting? Check. You don't get a lot of books that hit all three of those points- this may be the only one. As a fifth grader I wasn't entirely sure what to make of this novel, but it grew on me as I read. There are elements I remember to this day: the house full of taxidermies; the mile-high hotel skyscraper; the multiethnic mutated detectives. The writing isn't entirely polished, but this book still gets high poin ...more
Jan 05, 2008 elana rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
first book of 2008. what a remarkable position to hold...

i remember loving this book in middle school. still enjoyed it now, though recognized some new/questionable elements. generally good narrative and some very interesting characterizations of zimbabwe 2194. was particularly intrigued by the over-simplified but largely critical portrayal of the post-colonial race and class warfare of the southern African future... especially interesting was depiction of domestic workers and power relations i
Michael Burnam-fink
I loved this book back when I was a kid. Cyberpunkish scifi in 22nd century Zimbabwe, with heroic kids, mutant detectives, evil criminals. You can never really go back, so does this book hold up? Well, yes and no.

I didn't realize how much I'd appreciate the main character, Tendai, and his relationship with his younger siblings as he tries to protect them. The future African setting is also well-imagined; as a rising power and real nation that has reach an accord with the legacy of colonialism. F
Feb 22, 2015 Alisa rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
The Ear, the Eye, and the Arm is part science fiction, part detective story, and part fairy tale. General Matsika and his wife are classic over-protective parents. When their children, Tendai, Rita, and Kuda, trick their parents into signing a permission slip for a scout trip, the adventure begins. The children disappear, and Mrs. Matsika becomes so desperate she hires the detective agency of the Ear, the Eye, and the Arm. These detectives were born near a nuclear waste site and have special "po ...more
Andrew Hudson
The three children of a broadly benign dictator, General Matsika, languish within the protected compound that is their home, forbidden from all but the most proscriptive exposure to the world outside for fear of offering their father's enemies an opportunity to kidnap or kill them, and lay him low.

Empathetic Tendai, his thorny sister Rita, and their young brother Kuda long for an unrestricted taste of the rich world beyond those walls: Harare, capital of Zimbabwe, where life is really lived - no
Bethany Venus
Jun 07, 2010 Bethany Venus rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
What was going to be an exciting adventure turns into a frightening journey when General Matsika's three children are kidnapped during and outing. The worried parents call in Africa’s greatest detectives – The Ear, The Eye, and The Arm, whose special abilities come from exposure to nuclear waste. The children seem to stay just out of reach as the detectives trace them to different locations in the underbelly of the city. Will the detectives be able to find the children before it is ultimately to ...more
Jul 01, 2009 Kevin rated it it was ok  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: juvenilia
In the 1000 or so pages of Phillip Pullman's "His Dark Materials" trilogy, there is one word choice that betrays the fact that he is writing for children. It occurs in "The Subtle Knife" as our heroes come upon a madman trying in vain to use the eponymous blade, who in his fumblings has thrown the room around him into disarray, and Pullman writes that the furnishings had been thrown about "higgledy-piggledy". This bad bit of diction is the sort that stops a reader cold. There's something so plai ...more
Nov 05, 2008 Jess rated it it was ok  ·  review of another edition
Recommends it for: no idea but newbery gave it honor props
Recommended to Jess by: Fantasy Syllabus
Tried of being trapped in a Zambabwe mansion by overprotective parents, Tendai (13), Rita (11), and Kuda (4) set out on an adventure for scouts. A kidnapping changes the path without ending the adventure while also involving dectectives Ear, Eye, and Arm.

I liked parts of it - like plastic being collectible - but loads of other stuff was eh.

The dad's overprotective nature came on too strong; I didn't need a comment made about both that and his hidden love for his children every single time he spo
Diana Veras
This book is about three kids Rita, Tendai, and Kuda. THey keep running away because they each want to get explorer badges . Every-time they run away the detectives The Ear, The Eye, and the Arm have to recuse them. I didn't really like this book. IT goes from one plot to another which is very confusing. The beginning of the book was good but when it got to the middle an the end it got confusing and so boring.
Another reason I don't recommend this book is because of at the beginning it is talk
Raylee Gifford
This futuristic novel follows the story of 3 sheltered children in Africa. Their father is an important general and has kept them inside the gates to their home their entire lives for their protection. His children decide to go on a scouting trip one day and are kidnapped and forced to become slaves for the criminal the She-Elephant. After escaping the landfill where the She-Elephant lives they find themselves in an exclusive community that practices the ancient African law. They discover that t ...more
Manisha Gore
Jun 27, 2013 Manisha Gore rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
In The Ear, the Eye, and the Arm, Farmer has a unique style. The first thing I noticed was the point of view. The book is narrated in the third person. The narrator knows all of the characters. However, the narrator is not constant- the point of view occasionally shifts to the viewpoint of ten year old Tendai, one of the Matsika children. Another interesting aspect of the author's style is the use of many themes. One of the most prominent of all would be the theme of discovering what the world i ...more
Allison Parker
Aug 04, 2010 Allison Parker rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Recommended to Allison by: Thom
In a futuristic Zimbabwe, the three children of a high-ranking general sneak out of their sheltered, robot-managed lives for a trip across the city. But their plans change when they are captured and taken to strange places they never imagined existed outside of their plush house. The Ear, the Eye, and the Arm, a detective team, are hired to find the child using their special abilities which came to them from their mothers' exposure to toxic waste while pregnant. Farmer creates truly fantastic Af ...more
Mar 08, 2011 Maureen rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
So there is this show on the Travel Channel where this guy goes to exotic places and eats foods that would make most Americans barf, and he was in Madagascar eating bugs and antelope entrails and his wife, who travels with him, "got" to help the women do all the work of cooking this nasty-smelling stew and and serving the men while they sat on a blanket and told stories, and the show reminded me so much of the scene where Rita and Tendai eat their first meal in Resthaven that I had to go to the ...more
This sat on my to-read shelf for a while, and it shouldn't have, because it's one of the best young adult novels I've read in a while. It's set in Zimbabwe in 2194, where the three children of the powerful General Matsika are forbidden to leave their home for fear of kidnapping. Longing to experience the outside world, the three children figure out how to get out...and disappear. Their parents call in an unusual set of detectives, three people whose unusual physical characteristics have been pro ...more
Jun 17, 2010 Cindy rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
This is like 4 books in one. The first is the story of three kids, living a sheltered and rather boring life, who set off on a series of adventures. The second is a sci-fi look at what life might be like in a future Africa, with robots and mutants and mile high buildings. The third is a mystery with three unusual detectives searching for some kidnapped children. And the last book is a examination of what happens when modern people try to return to a traditionally tribal way of life. How much you ...more
Feb 14, 2009 Nian rated it liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: 2009
Okay, I definitely expected more from this book.

1. Where was the mystery? I thought it would be some intense plot filled with true villains who wanted to overthrow the government, or a group of outsiders who want to take revenge against the general by kidnapping his kids. I have this thing called an imagination and I thought, judging from House of the Scorpions, Farmer would be throwing some twists and turns here.

2. As much as I liked the adventure, it was just too much. They encounter scenari
Mar 14, 2009 Carter rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Recommended to Carter by: English Summer Reading
This review has been hidden because it contains spoilers. To view it, click here.
Jennifer Wermes
Taking place in Zimbabwe in 2194, the book follows the kidnapping of the ruling general's children. The general's children were kidnapped by people working for the She Elephant and put to work in a plastic mine. The general hires three detectives, named the Ear, the Eye, and the Arm, for their talent and skills. These detectives always seem to be just one step behind the children and the dreaded She Elephant, that is until the god of Zimbawe makes direct contact with the Arm.

My students seem to
May 04, 2009 Tyler rated it it was ok  ·  review of another edition
This is a sci-fi book set in Zimbabwe in the year 2194(ish). Three children of a famous general are kidnapped, and their father hires three mutant detectives with super-powers to find them. The children escape again and again, only to be kidnapped once more by a different party. All the time, the three detectives are right behind them. It sounds exciting, but really, you will enjoy this book better if you understand that THIS BOOK IS WRITTEN WITH AFRICAN CULTURE!!! So, the book is written in wh ...more
Matthew Pace
Aug 25, 2014 Matthew Pace rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Though it took a while to get into it, I soon dived into a fantastic world. This book highlights the importance of personal courage, poverty and fame, cultural differences, spirituality, and the concept of what it truly means to be mature. Personal growth is explored through many key characters, two in particular. This is definitely a book I would recommend to others.
Jun 09, 2008 Pablo rated it it was ok  ·  review of another edition
i'm gonna have to disagree with leslie on this one. definitely not up there with golden compass at all. it was a fun read and all, despite the plot being a little rushed with some holes and gaps in the narrative. but overall the story felt a little... weird and preachy? but really hard to pin down. Like the bit about Resthaven and the connection to spirit mediums and traditional zimbabwean ways seemed like it was meant to pose this answer to the dystopian sci-fi world of the future, but at the s ...more
Sep 28, 2007 Greta rated it did not like it  ·  review of another edition
Recommends it for: no one
Shelves: books-i-hated
This book really annoyed me. In my opinion it had an underbelly of fear and disrespect for Africa that was masked by a story narrative that was good in many respects...(don't let that fool you). Some of the most memorable images of this book include: grown African men peeing in their loincloths when they become startled by a boy, back to African community members eating fried mice,African people hating women, and African people killing babies. The big baddies of the book are dark, gangs of peopl ...more
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Nancy was born in 1941 in Phoenix and grew up in a hotel on the Arizona-Mexico border where she worked the switchboard at the age of nine. She also found time to hang out in the old state prison and the hobo jungle along the banks of the Colorado River. She attended Reed College in Portland, Oregon, earning her BA in 1963. Instead of taking a regular job, she joined the Peace Corps and was sent to ...more
More about Nancy Farmer...

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“That was the best kind of story: when the teller was as much under its spell as the listener.” 7 likes
“Knowledge is a house that must be built from the ground up. We know how to make the roof. The information is useless if we don't understand the foundations on which it is to be placed.” 3 likes
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