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

Personally, I’m no fan of science fiction, (save a few exceptions), but this is book is one extraordinary exception. The Ear, the Arm, and the Eye are not, contrary to what you might think on seeing the title, disembodied parts of the human anatomy. They’re detectives, living in the future. Very poor detectives, too, who need what money they get. Their extraordinary powers are what inspired them to become detectives. Each of their mothers lived in close proximity to a nuclear power plant, and the result is that each of them have mutations. The Ear has very sensitive hearing, the Arm can feel people’s feelings, and Eye has great vision. But there’s no such thing as a free lunch, is there? The trade-off for these abilities is that the trio are extremely sensitive, and easily injured. Meanwhile, in the opposite side of the economic distribution of wealth, are three children of a very rich, very powerful, and very afraid General. He’s paranoid about his children’s safety, and so said children are all but prisoners in their lavish house. Of course, the children sneak out. You really can’t blame them. Being a General’s offspring, one generally assumes that they must be absolutely bursting with strategy, tactical reasoning, and a general feeling of wanting to get their way. All they plan on having is a field trip, but it ends in a kidnapping, and all the strategy their father’s genes can hand down isn’t enough to help them escape. When the General finds out about the kids, he just about bursts a blood vessel. The minute he’s done with that, he calls in the detectives. They turn out to be none other than our very own detectives, named after various bits of the human anatomy. The book follows the children on a wild chase across Africa many centuries into the future. And if this helps your decision to scout for it in your local library, it’s won a Newberry Honor.

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