A Lot or a Little?
What you will—and won't—find in this book.
As its characters bounce around in time and space, The Obsidian Blade provides some vividly detailed scenes from history, including the fall of the World Trade Center towers and the crucifixion of Jesus.
The Obsidian Blade emphasizes the importance of family and the need for individual members to look out for each other. Tucker's time traveling is not done for adventure, but in search of his missing, troubled parents.
Positive Role Models
Although he sometimes participates in silly pranks with his friends, 13-year-old Tucker Feye is a fairly well-behaved reverend's son. After his father abandons his belief in God and his mother slowly succumbs to mental illness, Tucker does his best to keep the peace in the household. But when his parents disappear, seemingly abandoning him, Tucker takes it upon himself to go looking for them via the mysterious "diskos" that appear in odd places around his hometown. Even though he is attacked and injured, he never gives up his quest to save his parents.
Violence & Scariness
There's some violence in The Obsidian Blade, but not to excess. The protagonist, Tucker Feye, is stabbed by weird priests from the future, but he's quickly healed. The priests also wield laser-like, rod-shaped devices, and one of Tucker's allies is cut in half by their ray. Tucker also gets into a bloodless fistfight with a stranger. Some sensitive readers may be disturbed by two more realistic scenes: the burning towers on 9/11 and the crucifixion of Jesus.
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Sex, Romance & Nudity
Tucker initially finds the strange girl Lahlia unattractive, but as time goes one, he finds himself noticing how she has "filled out."
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Only a few instances each of "damn," "hell," and "dick."
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Drinking, Drugs & Smoking
Tucker's adult uncle Kosh drinks beer, sometimes to excess. An untrustworthy neighbor is rumored to have sold pot when he was a teen. One chapter is narrated from the viewpoint of the town drunk.
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Parents Need to Know
Parents need to know that The Obsidian Blade presents an odd mixture of science, fantasy, and religious themes. Tucker Feye's clergyman father actively rejects God, and Tucker's mother becomes mentally ill. There's not much strong language (a few instances each of "damn," "hell," and "dick"), and only the barest hint of sexual content. There's some violence (a stabbing, a fist fight, the killing of one of Tucker's allies), but more disturbing to some readers may be the scenes from real-life tragedies, such as the fall of the World Trade Center towers and the crucifixion of Jesus.
Is It Any Good?
Although it deals with some familiar themes from science fiction, this book puts an original spin on the time-travel tale, mixing history, religion, and seeming fantasy in unpredictable ways. Tucker, his parents, his uncle, and the mysterious Lahlia are complex and interesting characters, and author Pete Hautman puts them all in extraordinary circumstances for maximum conflict and suspense. It's hard to know from this opening volume exactly where this saga's headed, but most readers will recognize that they're in capable hands and look forward to the next installment.
Did we miss something on diversity?
Research shows a connection between kids' healthy self-esteem and positive portrayals in media. That's why we've added a new "Diverse Representations" section to our reviews that will be rolling out on an ongoing basis. You can help us help kids by suggesting a diversity update.