Lost and Found
by Orson Scott Card
My rating: 2.5 / 5
Genre: YA speculative fiction
Fourteen-year-old Ezekiel Blast has a talent for finding things and knowing who they belong to. Along with this talent comes a strong need to return things to the owner. This has earned him the label of thief by people who assume he stole the items in the first place. Now ostracized by peers and authority figures alike, he is not expecting to be befriended by fellow outcast Beth, who is thirteen, but looks like she’s seven. When he’s asked to use his “micropower” to find a missing girl, Ezekiel initially refuses for a multitude of reasons, not the least of which is that he finds things, not people. However, with the help of his friend and some others, Ezekiel realizes that there may be more to his micropower than he ever knew.
I was pretty excited when I was approved to read an advance copy of this book, since Orson Scott Card is a big name author. I haven’t read anything else by him (though Ender’s Game is on my TBR short list), but fortunately, I’ve read other reviews that say this isn’t like his other, especially earlier, work. Because this could have turned me off to his writing otherwise. I struggled a lot with various aspects of this book.
My biggest issue was the dialog. Not just the dialog itself, but the way it was framed. I’m a huge dialog person, both in my reading and my writing. And this book was something like 75% dialog. Because outside of the actual events that occurred surrounding the lost girl (and even during that), it felt like the characters were always either standing around or sitting around talking. And there was very little in the way of action happening during the talking, but while this worked in Lock In, it just didn’t work the same in this book. I’m not sure if I can explain why though. Maybe because the MC in Lock In is more of a mind at work, then a physical person? Maybe because it wasn’t 75% of the book?
But then, it might be because of the actual content of the dialog. There was so much snark and snappiness, it was just overwhelming. Almost like it was trying too hard to be witty and intelligent. Most of the characters talked nearly identically, even the minor ones, so it was really difficult to get a sense of who was talking. The only thing that really led me to understand that Ezekiel was particularly smart was that the detective said as much to him. But sometimes, the detective talked just like him, except without the constant need to correct people, so I guess that’s what made Ezekiel smarter? Some dialog scenes actually read as if the characters were doing nothing but one-up’ing each other in being more and more correct about what they were trying to say. And I really didn’t buy either Ezekiel or Beth as early teens due to their dialog.
Ezekiel’s micropower is analyzed to death, right up until the end of the book. On the other hand, a few certain elements (that I won’t detail for the sake of spoilers) were left completely unexplained. And there were certain things that happened in this book that reminded me of my 10-year-old self writing about a girl who got her best friend adopted alongside her simply because she was plucky enough to ask. It just felt a bit too unlikely in several spots (including what would likely be allowed in police work). But maybe Card has done some research and knows some things I don’t (I am definitely not an expert).
As far as the plot goes, it got off to a bit of a slow start, and then started to get interesting. And then went a surprising direction right at about the halfway point, and then became too predictable because of that. I know this is vague, but I don’t want to spoil anything. And a warning: it’s fairly dark and gritty for a YA book, dealing with things like (spoilers) kidnapping of young children, child pornography, parent death, and even one death scene (not a parent) described a bit graphically.
Now, the positives. Because I did give this book some stars. Ezekiel’s dad. I really like seeing a parent portrayed in such a great light, especially a father, because let’s face it, they’re pretty beat up in fiction of various mediums these days. I also liked the way the detective treated Ezekiel, for the most part, outside of the unlikely things. I really did like the premise, and even the plot, for the first half of the book. Then it felt like a rinse and repeat for the second half.
I struggled with how many stars to give this book. While I was reading it, I was hovering around 3-3.5. But by the end, I couldn’t figure out what I was seeing that gave it even that much redeeming value. I hate writing a review like this, and I will sum up by saying that a lot of this is personal preference. But it really didn’t suit my preference. I think there are plenty of people who would enjoy the quick, snarky dialog though, considering that the writing actually reminded me of a few people I know. So for those who enjoy that type of writing, it’s probably worth a read.
Thank you to Netgalley and Blackstone Publishing for providing me a copy of this book to review.
Find out more about Lost and Found
Publication date: September 10, 2019
If you’ve read this book, or read it in the future, feel free to let me know what you think!