By Orson Scott Card
HarperPaperbacks, 528 pp, 1992
This book's premise is sound. A family
moves to Steuben, North Carolina. There is Step, the husband and
computer programmer forced to take a day job writing documentation for a
software company because of financial problems; his wife DeAnne,
pregnant and devoted volunteer for the Mormon church; and their three
wonderful kids, Stevie, in second grade, Robbie, who will be starting
kindergarten next fall, and toddler Elizabeth.
There's also an unknown character,
introduced in the Prologue, who does bad things to little boys because
his wicked alter ego Boy makes him.
Sounds interesting. The trouble is,
it's all so boring. Nothing important happens until the second to last
chapter. Everything leading up to that point is mostly pointless filler.
Card introduces several characters that serve no purpose other than to
appear as suspects. Even worse, they're not very interesting and just
get in the way. Card also goes on at length to describe Step and
DeAnne's beliefs and involvement in the Mormon church, but that's also a
waste, because it has nothing to do with the story. They could have been
church-hating atheists, and the story would be no different.
DeAnne's pregnancy and birth to a boy
who may have cerebral palsy is also pointless. It serves no purpose. It
has nothing to do with the main story, which is supposed to be about
missing boys in Steuben and some evil force stalking Stevie. But that
vital plot is barely hinted at throughout.
It's too bad, because the end is quite
good, if you can suffer through the first 450 pages. Card should have
cut the fluff and concentrated on the main plot. Then it might have been