My husband, 18-year old son, and I are all big fans of Orson Scott Card. We all read his series that starts with Ender’s Game, a classic by now (my husband and I read it 25 years ago!). So, when we heard he had a new sci fi series out for teens and young adults, we were all excited. All three of us loved the first book, Pathfinder, and I was just the last one of us to read its sequel, Ruins, which was just as good. I’ll try not to include any spoilers for those who have not yet read Pathfinder and still want to start the series…so that means I can’t really say too much about the plot because both books have a lot of twists and turns and surprises.
Most of the main characters from the first book are back for Ruins, setting off on a journey with the goal of literally saving the world. Rigg, the main character from Pathfinder, is back and the de facto leader of the small group, though his best friend, Umbo, is a bit jealous and wonders why he’s not the leader. Both Rigg and Umbo have unusual skills. Rigg can see the paths of all living creatures, even those that passed by thousands of years ago. Umbo can travel back in time to the recent past, and when the two friends work together, Rigg can travel far back into the past with great accuracy, with Umbo anchoring him to the present and able to bring him back.
These talents come in handy, but the problem is that none of their little group can travel into the future. All they know is that their world will be destroyed in a few years, but they don’t understand why or how to fix it. As they try to save their world’s future, they learn more and more about its unusual origins and past.
As in Pathfinder, much of Ruins deals with time travel and with the philosophical and ethical issues around trying to change the past. I love time travel plots for exactly this reason – the fascinating, often paradoxical, discussions that are integral to them. What happens to your own present when you change the past? Do alternate histories disappear or remain intact? Could you actually make changes in the past that would result in you no longer existing in the present?
Besides these existential issues, there is ample suspense in this story and plenty of action. The group doesn’t know whom they can trust, and it seems that everyone they meet turns out to be lying to them in one way or another. Everything they try seems to fail, as they struggle to figure out how to save the world from its pending destruction. This is a fast-paced and exciting adventure that is also thought-provoking. Card has done it again, and we can’t wait for book #3!