The Ear, the Eye, and the Arm. Nancy Farmer

The Ear, the Eye, and the Arm
Nancy Farmer.
Orchard Books: 1994.

In Africa 2194 AD, the top General’s three kids are too over-protected by their parents and not allowed out. They finally escape and during the course of the story are kidnapped several times – by a slaver, a ransomer, a commune, and evil gang. Meanwhile, Mother hires three mutant detectives (see title) to find them.

Story centers around maturing of 13-year old boy and on Arm, the psychic-sensitive detective. In both cases, sensitivity to others is shown to be a handicap: Tendai is too sensitive to be a brave warrior, and Arm is so sensitive that he turns into a baby when he’s near one. Tendai loses his compassion for the enemy during a final battle scene, and Arm actually dies during the battle: when he comes back to life, he has lost his psychic sensitiviy. Not sure if I like this message for teens, but it is still a good story. Main flaw is that it spends too much time teaching us the vocabulary and customs of the future and traditional Africa — overdone and it slows the reading down.