Title: Ruins (Book 2 in the Pathfinder series)
Author: Orson Scott Card
Genre: Science fiction, fantasy, YA
My rating: 5 of 5 stars
While this book had a shaky start, I ended up enjoying it more than Pathfinder (despite that very random ending...more on that later)!
This book picks up almost immediately after the previous book, which made it a bit confusing for me because I was fuzzy on the details. Of course I remembered Rigg, Param, and Umbo, but I was a little shaky on who Olivenko was and whether Loaf was the innkeeper or the innkeeper's wife. I figured it out quickly enough (thanks Wikipedia!), but I wish there had been the slightest bit more recap/reminder of what had happened at the end of Pathfinder.
While the first book picked up the pace and got going at page 10, this one took a good 200 pages before anything really happened. This was frustrating, especially since most of these 200 pages were spent with this infuriating recurring theme: "I don't trust Vadesh but I will go along with this anyway because he knows I know that he isn't trustworthy and he hasn't pulled anything yet...but I still don't trust him." There was also a lot of petulant "I want to be leader!" "No me!" "Move over, idiot, it should be me!". I thought it was a good idea to bring up why Rigg was the implied leader when Rigg, Param, and Umbo all had time manipulating abilities, but by the end of this jealousy fest, I was so sick of the argument that I wished it hadn't been brought up at all. I suppose it was thrown in there to show character growth or something but it was just annoying.
Anyways, after the said infuriating 200 pages, things got much more interesting. There is a lot more science fiction thrown into this story than the previous installment, since there isn't another mini-story being told at the chapter headings (those were my favorite parts of Pathfinder! I was disappointed that there wasn't another Ram/expendable story included in this story, but I see why that would be problematic considering the events of the end). This, for me, was a turn for the better, but fantasy lovers might consider it a turn for the worse.
I don't want to say too much about this story for fear of spoilers, but you get to see more folds in this book - Odinfold is SO COOL. I loved the explanation that the Odinfolders had about the time travelers and the new conflict that was introduced there. Also, mice are cool.
And now for the ending.
(view spoiler)[ I was puzzled as to why Rigg needed to get himself a facemask - I suppose it's a case of curiosity killed the cat, although technically the facemask saved him from Ram by giving him faster reflexes. There's something fishy about those facemasks...
I thought it was kind of cool that Ram was still alive somehow. I'm a little annoyed by the appearance of two Riggs though. I feel like that is going to make the third book unnecessarily confusing.
What I'm most annoyed about is the way the book ended so abruptly. The conflict of the outsiders blowing up Garden was introduced, and everyone studied up on starships and history and Earth. They visited other folds, discovered more about the expendables, and observed the outsiders. They even tried to alter the future by altering history a few times. All of that for what, though? By the end of the book, they've accomplished absolutely nothing. I wish there had been a bit more closure at the end of the book - just ending with Vadesh commenting on how humans clutter everything up was so anticlimactic after all the discoveries in the previous few hundred pages. (hide spoiler)]
So even though I'm annoyed with the beginning and the very end, there were enough new discoveries and interesting twists to balance the annoyances out and then some :)