We are back on track and this week Maria (@mselke01) and I are
Obsidian Blade by Pete Hautman
Don't forget to stop by Maria's Melange to get the rest of the story! As usual, I'm in the blue and Maria's in the purple!
Sometimes I dislike books that have a prologue because I want the whole story to be told within its chapterly confines. I wonder how many people actually skip the prologue and just start the story? The language in this prologue would probably lead people to skip it. There isn’t a glossary to define the words and it might be off-putting to students.
I’m always fond of a prologue, especially one that jumps right into the strangeness of a tale. I can see that this is an acquired taste, though, as many of my students don’t appreciate a prologue. I have to convince them to always take the time to stop and read a prologue, unless they KNOW it’s not required (like in Magic Treehouse where the prologue is always just a recap of the previous books in the arc). I loved the odd terms and the sharply different tone from our reality - but again I can see where this would be very challenging for students who aren’t used to this kind of setup. This is another thing I have to teach my students. When they begin a book that is set in an alternate world, it often takes a while to get into the swing of the world. Some kids can handle this, and some can’t (or just don’t like it). I did mention that I thought the setup section of this book was ENTIRELY too long. A full half of the book was devoted to setting the scene. Using 150 pages for setup might be okay in a really long book (like a Game of Thrones length tome) but in a book that is only 300 pages it was too much. Will kids stick with it?? I will definitely mention the prologue in my booktalk but do I mention that incredibly long setup??? Would turn off a lesser reader I think.
Part 1 The Swing (why so called?)
The disappearance- Tucker’s dad disappeared and then came back and hour later much darker and with a young girl in tow. The mom accepts his explanation even though he really didn’t have time to pick her up from an orphanage and she was dressed weirdly. Also, the dad looked different and now doesn’t believe in something he spent his whole life studying. That’s a lot of impossible things to believe.
True (and now I wish I hadn’t read the whole book and could only respond with my knowledge of the first chunk). hahaha - I read it too! I went back and just took notes on this first part so I wouldn’t ruin it!!) I have to say that I liked this when I read it, though. It really was jarring - but since the prologue set me up to be jarred I didn’t mind it. It was the first indication that the story wasn’t as realistic fiction as parts of it seemed. I accepted it and moved on - and maybe it was the prologue that allowed me to feel that way.
The town - if the town is going downhill and isn’t growing, why would a preacher stay there? Why would he raise a child there?
The mom - I wonder why Hautman chose adult autism for Emily? Will there be a message forthcoming on what he believes “causes” autism? The doctor called it Rapid Onset Autism which is something that exists but not in adults - at least that I could find. What about the “ghosts” and “men in black” that the mom sees?
Yes, from all I have learned about autism (and I worked in a school with a special program for autism so we got a decent amount of training on the topic) this is not anything that is “currently seen” or known with this set of disorders. I started to feel like maybe there was more of a connection between Lahlia and his mom. Like there was something about her (since she was also adopted as a small child and knew nothing about her background) that meant she was from an alternate time as well. I’m also starting to feel like I read the book too quickly, and I’m going to need to go back through the second half again before I write about it! That’s what happens when I get competitive and try to read too quickly for Summer Throwdown! (you crazy teachers! Though I admit I have been staying up WAY TOO LATE trying to read as much as possible!!)
The language of the story - something about the language of the story seems odd to me. I don't know what it is. The story may be told not using contractions and then switch over or maybe it’s a change in POV? I can’t put my finger on it.
I don’t recall noticing that, but I did feel like the flow wasn’t quite what I expected.
Kosh - weird that his father would leave him with a brother he doesn't see or talk to but who lives only a few hours away. I know there is a big age difference but if he felt he failed his brother, shouldn’t he try to make amends? Being a preacher? Would you leave your 14 year old alone not even knowing if this estranged brother is going to come and get him? And Tucker wasn’t even at home.
Agreed. I thought that was very odd. Again, I felt like maybe there was some connection between Kosh and Emily - and I felt like maybe Emily had a connection with the Klaatu. But there is a family resemblance, between Kosh and Tucker - so that can’t be right either. I wonder if there will be more connections we get later in the book (that I missed because I was reading too quickly) or maybe even in the next book. I feel like the setup in this book was also more about setting up a series than just about this story. Setting up a series, I sometimes dislike that. I would rather an author told me a mostly complete story. Like the first Hunger Games. I never felt like I had to read the next book. I just did because I wanted to. This is exactly the example that I thought of as I was typing this, too!
Part 2 Kosh
Kosh - weird that Kosh has also seen the “men in black”. Are they the same men Emily saw? I assumed they were - which made my feeling that there is a connection between Emily and Kosh stronger.
Plot device - He made Tucker stay at home even though he knew he could be in Eau Claire the whole day. Does not make sense so could only be used as a plot device to provide Tucker with the alone time he needed for the diskos.
The Twin Towers - why did Hautman choose the top of the second tower for a disk? I know it has something to do with Iyl Rain and putting the diskos near spots of historical turmoil but why did Hautman make that particular choice?
My assumption was that it tied into Hautman’s age. I didn’t look up to find out how old the author is - but the Towers event could have been one of those defining historical events for him... leading to him choosing to use that one in his story. *now looking up his age. Nothing fascinating but I’d forgotten that he’d also written Godless. Turns out I’ve read quite a few of his books.
The Time Traveling - Hm. Now, I like books that have time travel. If it’s straight-forward. I am having a hard time figuring this one out - so bear with me here: When Kosh goes on top of the tower it’s 2001, a week after September 11 in his time period. When Tucker goes it’s at least 2011 (picked date based on his age, says he knows about it but too young to remember) in his time period. But when you come back, it’s the same date you left. But not always in same spot? Why did reverend end up in a different spot? So, are we experiencing all time periods at the same time really? Are they on top of each other?
I’m going to hold off on answering this one - since I feel like Hautman did a reasonable (but not fantastic) job of explaining this later in the book.
Hm. I’m hoping I get answers to many questions in the rest of the book. Where did his parents go? Why did the dad change? Who is Lahlia? Who are the priests? What happened to his mom? How does the time travel work. Well, back to reading!
Yes! And what I really wanted when I finished this section of the book was to get into some more science - less of the realistic fiction with just a splash of the science fiction.