Saturday, July 14, 2012

Book review: Pastwatch

Amazon synopsis: In one of the most powerful and thought-provoking novels of his remarkable career, Orson Scott Card interweaves a compelling portrait of Christopher Columbus with the story of a future scientist who believes she can alter human history from a tragedy of bloodshed and brutality to a world filled with hope and healing.

I read random books. There's no rhyme or reason to explain which novel I'll read. Pastwatch by Orson Scott Card has been on my to-read list for years. Thanks to my son's assigned reading, I often got some good reading material, from sci-fi to drama to classics. There aren't many books my kid will rave about or even read completely through, but this one, he did both. That alone intrigued me.
I've always despised Christopher Columbus and his true story of barbaric and inhumane treatment of the natives whose land he stole. I'm beyond grateful for the land I walk on today, but it saddens me to think of the fallen.
I think my favorite character was Diko from the very start. She seemed to have been born with her mother's passion for the Columbus Project times five. I have an admiration for mature kids, and she was just that. No story is perfect, and I love to give the author lots of credit for being over creative and different from the norm. This story was definitely different, which is something that draws me in. I was fascinated by these machines that could peer into the past, and not to mention, so far into the past. How mind blowing that would be if it really happened! The author obviously put a lot of time into studying these ancient cultures and the life of Columbus. That takes patience! As I read, I actually pictured every scene in my mind like a video.
*Spoiler alert*

One thing I loved about this story was that I got to see certain characters go from young adults just starting off in the world to devoted scientists and then married with a kid who follows in their footsteps. Tagiri had a far-fetched notion that changing the fate of Columbus would create a better life for thousands of natives and other people in the world. I swear I even learned more about Columbus in this book than I did in school. Put a science fiction twist on anything, and you've got my attention.

Tagiri's only child, Diko, a very driven young lady, probably double that of her mom, ends up being of the chosen who are sent back in time to interact with the natives and strengthen them against the while men who would be coming. She taught them to stand up for themselves, taught the women to be stronger and smarter and wooed them with her knowledge of what was to come. Of course, she had already studied them in the time machine prior to going, so this empowered her to call them out on things, to them, only God could know, down to who had diarrhea on what day!

The other two characters who also went back in time at different intervals added such dimension to this story. Card touched on the past, present and future of humanity in this chilling story. He showed just how the modern world was shaped, how the Pastwatch team of the book's present day were horrified about slavery and all the brutality that existed during that time, and then they discovered a way to physically go back in time and interact with the ancient societies, including Columbus himself.

I also love that Diko not only went back in time to save the world against Columbus and his tyranny but she ended up making him and better person, and they married and had six kids! Interracial marriage is another hot button Card stuck into the storyline. Love it!

I recommend this book. And it gets my 5-star rating.

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