THE GEOMANCER’S COMPASS
Tundra Press, 2012
Sixteen-year-old Miranda Liu has a summer internship at CanBoard, part of an international effort to develop a digital, planetary infrastructure through the rapidly developing technology of Augmented Reality. That was before her world turned upside-down.
Summoned to her grandmother’s deathbed, Miranda finds herself entrusted with a family heirloom – a seventeenth century geomancer’s compass – as well as a sacred mission. It’s now up to Miranda and her irritating, dyslexic cousin Brian to lift the curse that is slowly decimating their dysfunctional Chinese-Canadian family, a curse that dates back to 1908 and a period of extreme anti-Chinese sentiment in Canada. In order to do this, Miranda and Brian must employ Augmented Reality, Virtual Reality and old Chinese magic. The question is: can they stop bickering long enough to save their family – and themselves – before it’s too late?
With humour and suspense, The Geomancer’s Compass imagines a world in the near future – a future that for the Liu family seems doomed by the ghosts of the past.
“A Chinese Canadian family has suffered generations of bad luck and two 16 year olds are sent on a mission to undo the curse. It employs a bit of science fiction, Canadian history, and a well-paced mystery. This pat summary doesn’t do justice to the creativity Ms. Hardy injects throughout this interesting story. The teens must go to Saskatchewan and, in doing so, learn about the history of Chinese immigrants working on the railway in the 1800s. They solve the mystery of their missing ancestor, using virtual reality and avatars to help them along their way. There are many unusual elements to Ms. Hardy’s story. She quickly develops her characters so that you have definite elements to help you understand who they are. She deals with obvious issues, like historic persecution, but also digs into how individuals treat each other. She uses technology or elements of Chinese culture to help the story along without making them distractions. This is a thoughtful book that delivers an intriguing adventure. The context is excellent for a wide range of ages. Strong Grade 4 readers can easily handle the text, while older readers may find the language and story less challenging but enjoy the interactions of the main characters. Older readers are also more likely to appreciate Ms. Hardy’s treatment of prejudice and the history of Moose Jaw’s gangsters.”