Gatefather by Orson Scott Card
My rating: 2 of 5 stars
I wanted to like this more. I'm not saying I didn't like it because I actually did.
I just wanted to like it more.
So what was good?
The ideas! The direction the magic took was rather cool and I would have loved to play in this world for a lot longer, but the focus came down rather heavily upon individual choices and Danny's godlike power. Not that this couldn't be a good thing, mind you, even in the face of a setup that could bring down war between worlds and numerous new uber-powers laying waste by both accident and intent, but in the end, we were left with very little actual action. Good story paths, yes, and the idea carries everything better than you might expect, but that leads me to the bad.
The bad: Reader expectations.
I'm not going to sit here and say we're all bad people because we're used to and enjoy anti-heroes and we now hate christ-like imageries because we've seen such things overdone to the point of absurdity. I'm also not going to complain that what was a much gentler touch in the first two novels then gets to be a bit hammer-like in the third.
What I will say is that if you go into reading this knowing that you'll be dealing with a genuinely heroic and moral MC, perhaps something like Ender or Alvin Maker, but without their obvious failings, then you might start thinking that he might be rather single-dimensional. And you'd be right. At least in the previous novels, he was mooning people or knocking up chicks. In this one, he just plays host to Seth and never needs to worry about anything because he's amazingly powerful.
And then we get the morality play. Don't get me wrong! I like a good morality play that's done well. I don't even care if it's heavy as long as it's also clever as hell. This novel's writing is crystal clear and I still enjoyed a lot of the characters and it was very much a YA, but the very insistent focus that most girls (mind you, not women) will always be attracted to the truly powerful, got a bit gruesome.
That being said, there was still a rather big mix between the extra-juvenile (to be expected, considering their ages,) and some rather cool but out of place philosophical moments, (which also might be expected, considering their ages.) However, somewhere along the line, these didn't gel for me and it fell flat. Maybe that's just me and I'm being a bit more harsh on this novel than I usually am because I've read and loved so much of OSC's works. I particularly loved the philosophical moments in the others, even.
This one felt a bit rushed. Like it needed another pass and tone up, perhaps a different main focus or at least one that brought out the peril a bit more. I found myself thinking the novel was about to wrap up half-way through and wondered where it could go. The actual end was... okay, but just okay.
I wanted to have more happen. We did get something big, but we didn't have to work for it. I just feel a bit cheated.
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