Pathfinder - Orson Scott Card

Read and Reviewed in 2013:

Pathfinder is about a boy who goes through many tribulations while learning he can touch the past. There were also several snippets of a story which was much more interesting, an astronaut who must deal with the space-time continuum. It made me very angry.

Since learning that Orson Scott Card is anti-homosexual, I had planned to go back to New York, pull my copy of Ender's Game off the shelf and finally read it. I wasn't sure I would find anything offensive in that book, or that I would have anything to say, in fact I was pretty sure my contributions to discussions about the book would run about like this: the book is good, but man, why are people like Card so anti-homosexual? Maybe I would throw in a George Carlin or Louis C.K. joke. I certainly wasn't fond of the idea of buying his book, paying money to see the movie (which many wonderful people worked on, I'm sure) and keeping his personal beliefs out of my review.

It is with this out of the way, that I will turn to my review of the first book of Orson Scott Card's that I have read: Pathfinder, first in the Serpent World series. Frankly, Serpent World is an awesome name. I would also like to thank Simon & Schuster for allowing people to read Pathfinder online, legally, on their website Not much of a surprise, but they’re supported by Overdrive, a company which I love. However, this review is not endorsed by them, and I was not allowed access with the intent of getting a review. So, I'll complain a little bit and then meander a bit. I don't like to rag on about something I didn't like. I didn't take very specific notes, but I compiled the notes I did take by chapter and they can be found on booklikes.

What this book put me in mind of was whether we would actually publish an author who is famous if he submitted a new novel under a new name? JK Rowling proved that public would accept and even strongly like a book of hers if it wasn't her name on the cover, but also [name redacted] proved that her book was not published when submitted to a house with a different name. The editor went on to say that you can draw many different conclusions from this.

Brevity is the soul of wit, but that doesn't mean that a serious or sombre novel which only occasionally cracks jokes needs to be 600 pages long.

Addendum 2017: Kinda like this review! Haha. I have no patience for editing these remarks further. Have at them.

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  • Hmm, not sure I like the narrative voice...
  • This book is pretty weird, kinda pretentious, odd, reminds me of the chapter books I read as a kid. Really just clever and fond of itself for being clever. I'll see how far I manage to read before Pulse-It locks me out. 
  • Uh... okay? 
  • So... am I supposed to care that the clever dad is now on ice? I mean, we only knew him as Father, I certainly don't feel for him, and I don't actually think Robo Rigg has enough emotions to avenge him (since I just found out there's time travel in this book). 
  • I mean... Okay. 
  • Overly clever, dull so far. I don't care about the father, was rather expecting him to be standing in the bright blue path of the fallen tree. Do we need to read about wiping your butt for poop? 

  • Look! Exposition which sci-fi is often burdened with! At last, something I know what to do with! Skim. 
  • Wait, Ram Odin was just a blip of distraction? Okay, keep reading, I obviously have no idea what's going on. 
  • I think this book is boring because it tells rather than shows. That is a concept that has puzzled me, but I hear about often. It's possible I don't understand it. 
  • Ugh, really? Really? Thank god Father is dead. I'm hoping Rigg gets more interesting, but I don't have high hopes. I need something positive to grasp onto. 
  • 5% I can't believe I'm thinking that Rigg should have kept the furs and left the kid, or at least done something a little differently. I'm groaning. That was either out of character or will bite him in the ass later. I can't put my finger on why the writing feels so weird. 
  • Rigg muses about not having tried to save the boy at all: but if he hadn't the reader would never had had a chance to learn about all the time slowing down and traveling in the past, stuff. 

  • These jokes... this personality feels forced on him. 
  • He's really starting to grate on me. 
  • Why does this story feel so convoluted and contrived? Is it really that bad? 

  • expendable says "lets assume the dot dot dot" really? REALLY? Couldn't it have said its infinite!!!!!!???? "ad infinitum" 
  • I am shocked at how angry this book is making me. Am I biased? 
  • This book would have benefited from a rolling start. SO BADLY. 
  • Is it that the writing is flat? What does flat writing even mean? 
  • Suddenly with Umbo, the story feels a bit like a light Lord of the Rings, it's a good tone for it. 
  • I officially hate Rigg. Should I give up? This book is 600 pages long. 
  • He doesn't even act like a thirteen year old, or how old is he supposed to be? I don't feel he's taking himself very seriously. 
  • All I can do is throw my hands up and say OK a bunch of times in a row. STOP EXPLAINING EVERYTHING. 
  • I did just gasp when I realized that this whole seeming non sequitur was going to lead into Rigg being the demon who knocked the wandering saint off the falls. OH MY DEAR LORD. Why can't this be better written? The reason Rigg remembers it differently is because everyone else's memory has changed. 
  • Long winded, but actually interesting. BLEEEEEAAAAAAAAARGGGHHH. 

  • Wait, is this trying to be Douglas Adams? I could do with some Douglas Adams right about now. 
  • Yeah, this tavern owner is giving me a strong J.R.R. Tolkien vibe. 
  • I wish Victor Hugo had written this. At least I would know someone dies and that there would be some interesting tangents between all the boring ones. Like, really, what the fuck does Orson Scott Card think he's writing? 

  • WHAT kind of fourteen year old boy talks like this?! My brother certainly didn't. "Accusations can go both ways," my right foot. 
  • NO FOURTEEN YEAR OLD BOY TALKS LIKE THIS. Is the world really so different in this time? Then maybe we should have gotten a better introduction. This one felt tedious and repetitive, do you not trust the reader? 
  • The sarcasm doesn't fit, basically. It is a good book, but the editor and the author had a hard time agreeing on how much to trust the reader. Can't a person re-read something if they don't get it? Good lord. Bad decision, whoever made it. 
  • It only took 151 pages for me to realize this book isn't shit. Should have had a rolling start or flashbacks, and trusted the reader a little more instead of rambling and repeating itself. Thankfully, it's not a complete waste of time, and I know decisions about books are not easy to make, I sympathize with Mr. Card and his editor. 
  • Sorry to yell at you, but I got unreasonably mad at this book. I have a rule to aim for a significant chunk of the book before giving up. I haven't given up on a book since adopting it. 100-150 pages, usually. At 100 pages, this book was on the cusp of greatness, and as we crossed to 150 pages, the book had drunk her orange juice. There are still crappy things about it, but it's not nearly as bad as I first thought. 

  • finally a joke that made me smile and wasn't prodded with a stick! 
  • crotch of jewels - all the wealth in their crotch, how most boy feel 
  • I think Ram is Rigg's father, and the reason Rigg can't see his path is because he's traveling backwards. 

  • What if Rigg's Father is an expendable? I LIKE THIS IDEA. 

  • The book is finally interesting, now that the action is a little better paced. GOD people still talk too much.

  • Maybe if Patricia C. Wrede were channeling Frank Herbert and Douglas Adams from Beyond-the-Grave. 

  • So basically, these boys are able to observe the fourth dimension. Or rather, just Rigg. Umbo can try to or pretend to try or what have you. 

  • He's a brat, but he's too clever - he's not petulant enough. AND THAT annoys me. 
  • Oh NOW he has personality? To be truthful though, I can't tell if he's faking it, I'm also not sure why he couldn't have been at least two years older, thirteen just doesn't feel right. 

  • Now that I have this theory, I want it proven, only read 58% of the book. 
  • You'll talk about pee and poo but you won't talk about menstruation? I suppose, only 50% of people menstruate as opposed to the 100% who defecate. 
  • Also, "you can tell me bedtimes stories later?" way to be patronizing Rigg. 

  • In addition to all the round-about conversations, I get the impression that until we met Rigg's mother Hagia and his sister Param, he didn't care about anything. And I think that infuriated me a lot as well. Well, brought up by an android, I don't suppose it comes as much as a surprise that he was cold, emotionless, guarded... 
  • But if it does turn out that 11,191 years before year zero was when the spaceships impacted on earth, then the cliffs WERE formed 11.91 years ago liked Rigg conjectured in one of his conversations with his father. 
  • The story lacked any emotion or passion until Hagia and Param entered the story. Why is that? 

  • "Was it possible she had known all along what a moral vacuum Mother was?" 
  • God damn, I'm gonna have to write a positive review and read the sequel. 

* * * * * *

It was horrible then okay then good. I hate how complicated my feelings about it are. Basically: It's pretty average clunky sci-fi which improves as hundreds of pages pass. I am unfortunately going to have to borrow the sequel from the library. Reader, I did not.

Also, why did I want to give this book a positive review? I am not curious enough to subject myself to more of this.

Pages: 672
Year: 2010
Publisher: Simon Pulse

Read: 2013
Stars: 0.5