Tendai, Rita, and Kuda are bored with living in the compound. In 2194, Zimbabwe is a dangerous place and their father (Zimbabwe’s chief of security) insists that they stay behind the high locked walls and never venture outside. But curiosity leads the three children to sneak out to explore the slums. Unfortunately, their sheltered life has not prepared them for the world outside and almost immediately, they are kidnapped. Frantic, their parents resort to hiring Zimbabwe’s most talented detectives: three mutant outcasts known as the Ear, the Eye, and the Arm. As the detectives use their special abilities to track the children, Tendai, Rita, and Kuda attempt to escape from their captors and wind up on a wild and dangerous adventure all across the impoverished country.
The dystopian worldview and suspenseful plot of this 1995 Newbery Honor book will be appealing to many fans of the Hunger Games and similar sci-fi novels. In addition to crafting an exciting plot, Farmer uses the extreme division of classes in her futuristic world to explore the tension between progress and tradition as well as themes of social responsibility. This book has been one of my favorites since my childhood, and I highly recommend it to middle grade and teen sci-fi fans.