“This book is a bit hard to classify into a genre. There are elements here of thriller, the otherworldly as well as serving as a surprisingly intimate portrait of a young, Mormon family. The Fletchers move from Indiana to a rural, North Carolina town in 1983 and what ensues is a realistic view into their lives in the ensuing year as they adjust to their new cultural climate. North Carolinians may not be too appreciative of this view into their small towns - here high school students drive the K-12 buses (surely that is illegal!), teachers bully children more than anyone else, and scheduled parent-teacher conferences are not mandatory.
The book has received complaints concerning its pacing - and yes, it takes a surprising amount of pages to for events to happen that actually feel like part of the plot, but at the same time, this slow beginning really develops not only these sympathetic characters, but also progresses this unsettling atmosphere lurking beneath the surface, quotidian events. And there are definitely sections that feel like a bit of an overload of detail - particularly in the descriptions of Step’s career as a 1980s computer programmer and the role of their faith in their lives. But this detail - even when a bit dull at times - adds to the completeness of Card’s creation. This family feels so tangible that even the most mundane activities described become surprisingly absorbing. The family and each character is so relatable and so recognizable that the story quickly becomes hard to pull away from! Card is certainly a talented writer! I literally stayed up into the very early hours of the next day to finish this one last night - as the book spiraled to a conclusion, it became unthinkable to go to sleep without first finishing it!
There is a surprisingly amount of predictability to the plot - but it somehow works. Card takes a quality that ruins most books and uses instead the predictability to build up dread within the reader. Those unthinkable suspicions and mounting dread only heighten the emotional attachment to the characters when more and more fears are realized. By the final pages, the book feels heavier - like life there is plenty of heartbreak and tragedy, but also a surprising amount of beauty, hope and even a touch of the miraculous. This is a surprisingly powerful story - and one that is so moving that not even the most stoic of readers will be left without tearing up at some point. This is my first OSC novel, and I am definitely curious to read more by this talented author! ”
“53 Way too close. The main character reminds me of my father in a hundred freaky ways. Card knows how to get to me, that's for sure, the creepy and horrible characters and the terrible happenings kept me up at night. I didn't even realize it was supposed to be a scary book. And it's not really, in the strictest sense. It ended completely differently than I thought, I mean I'd guessed a lot, but I hadn't gone that far. It's everyday horror with a bit of strangeness thrown in.”kala_way wrote this review Saturday, November 3, 2012. ( reply | permalink ) Was this review helpful? Yes | No
“Unlike my previous exposure to Orson Scott Card in Ender's Game, this novel is a delightfully surprising departure from his well-known sci-fi roots. Though the beginning seems rather slow paced, especially if you're expecting a "thriller" it is worth every moment of character development. Card does an excellent job of painting the picture of a young family trying to make ends meet in a new town in North Carolina. There are twists and turns, though some more subtle than others that kept me wondering what the ultimate outcome would be.”LeftNWrite wrote this review Wednesday, August 8, 2012. ( reply | permalink ) Was this review helpful? Yes | No
“This is a strong story, and an emotional one. Parents might have problems reading this one as most of the story deals with children who have disappeard. Card dug down hard for this story, pulling out all the emotional stops. This is such a departure from his usual SF stories that I was truly surprised at how much I liked it. ”Chris M wrote this review Monday, May 28, 2012. ( reply | permalink ) Was this review helpful? Yes | No
“I had trouble getting into this, but I persevered. The plot didn't really get going until nearly 400 pages in. It's was way more than I ever needed to know about the goings on in Mormon churches; as well as every single mundane detail of this family's life; when I feel the book could have focused more on an actual story. And mostly I just wanted want to punch DeAnne in the face. ”A. M. Henry wrote this review Tuesday, June 12, 2012. ( reply | permalink ) Was this review helpful? Yes | No
“There is an element of dark sub-surface horror that runs throughout this book, but the action related to it only takes up about 1/3 of the book at best. However, the surface story, that of a family trying to make a new life and cope with the challenges and struggles is so compelling you won't care. Card is a master story-teller and really fleshes out his characters here and makes you care about them, right up to the tearful ending. Keep the tissues handy.
Knowing that Card is a Mormon and the family is this story is very involved in the Mormom faith, I thought this might be his treatsie-in-disguise on the Mormon way. Rather, it's a bit of an explanation. Card shows both sides and actually plants some seeds of doubt. However, it doesn't take away from the story-- it just enhances it. Don't be afraid to check this out. ”
“Excellent Twist! ”Michelle Furgeson wrote this review Wednesday, January 11, 2012. ( reply | permalink ) Was this review helpful? Yes | No
“Good read, but not crazy about the ending.”millibrad wrote this review Friday, December 9, 2011. ( reply | permalink ) Was this review helpful? Yes | No
“Disturbing book, but well written. A mystery that is well crafted and holds your attention to the end.”Allison Poz wrote this review Saturday, November 5, 2011. ( reply | permalink ) Was this review helpful? Yes | No
“I liked this story in general, main characters are mornon...not a life style I am very familiar with. Not sure it added to story or was necessary, the decription of life of a family with 3 kids would have equally distracted the reader from event that led to the ending...which I don't want to spoil. ”Lara wrote this review Thursday, January 27, 2011. ( reply | permalink ) Was this review helpful? Yes | No