Caryn's Reviews > The Ear, the Eye, and the Arm

The Ear, the Eye, and the Arm by Nancy Farmer
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Apr 02, 12

bookshelves: engl-420
Read from March 28 to 31, 2012

NANCY FARMER

Tendai, Rita, and Kuda are the children of Zimbabwe's chief of security, the feared General Matsika, but they rarely leave the safety of their compound and have no companionship other than the Mellower--an entertainer/poet/historian/tutor--and the family's robot Doberman. In fact, the year is 2194, and flying vehicles have replaced the cars and buses of today; the scouting program is still going strong, however, and Tendai needs to take a journey across the city to earn his exploration merit badge. With the Mellower's help, the children make it outside the compound gates, but are ill-prepared to meet the challenges of a city in crisis. While three mutant detectives (Ear, Eye, and Arm) bumblingly attempt to track the children, they still must use all of their resourcefulness and a hefty dose of Shona mysticism to get them back to their parents. I'm an admitted sucker for both science fiction and folktales, so Farmer's novel is a winning combination for me. While less "hard" science fiction and more of a coming of age/adventure story set in the future, I particularly loved the juxtaposition of a futuristic society--robot maids and paper boys, for example--and Shona traditional beliefs in spirits, witches, and mediums. While I would have liked more character development in Kuda, it's a small bone to pick in an overall excellent story. An unusual and ultimately touching novel.
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