Young Jacob Manford grew up in Harmony, a blind boy raised in a colony of citizens dedicated to blindness as a way of life. Stricken with sight at thirteen, he escapes to the futuristic city of Melville, only to discover he has traded one hostile community for another.
Jacob's sight introduces him to a thrilling new world—vast landscapes, glittering skyscrapers, and flying machines—but he is unsure if he has finally found a place to belong. Will Jacob ever find what he is looking for?
About the Author
David Stahler Jr. received his bachelor's degree in English from Middlebury College in 1994 and later earned a graduate degree from the Master of Arts in Liberal Studies program at Dartmouth College. His other provocative works for young adults include Truesight, The Seer, and Otherspace. He teaches in Vermont, where he lives with his wife and two children.
Read an Excerpt
The great ringed moon had come and gone, moving across the sky with a speed one could almost trace if the eyes were patient enough to follow. And now even its sister moon, small and pink, tagging slowly along behind, had begun its sinking, and as the morning light crept back into the world, Jacob Manford stirred within his damp pocket of grass and dreamed.
He had been following her too long—for what seemed like hours, maybe even days—along the streets of Harmony, moving from tier to tier, from north to south, east to west, cutting through the heart of the colony each time, then twisting along unfamiliar lanes before coming back around. At first he kept losing her. She kept fading around the corners and he, running to catch up, seemed to just miss her each time. Maybe he waited, maybe he turned back—it didn't matter, she always reappeared. That was at first. Now she no longer vanished and he knew that he was gaining, that it was only a matter of time. He was close now, close enough to hear her breathing, almost close enough to touch the dark strands of hair that floated behind her though there was no breeze. He was close enough that he knew he only had to whisper her name and she would hear him.
"Delaney," he called, "please stop. I'm tired."
He thought she might have laughed. Or maybe it was the sound of chimes, for as he looked ahead he could see the council house before them. He picked up the pace as they climbed the ramp toward the opening set into the hill, the gaping darkness of the portal framed by the great chimes that now clamored in alarm at his approach. He had been there onlyonce before, to be judged in the shadows of the chamber, and he knew he had to stop her. He could only imagine what they would do to her.
"Stop, Delaney. You can't go in there!" he hissed.
She must not have heard him above the clanging of the chimes, for she plunged into the gloom, spreading out her arms as if to touch the edges of the doorway before being swallowed up. He raced to the opening, then paused, reaching out a hand toward the dark only to see his fingers disappear as they breached the inky surface of the entryway. He yanked his hand back and hesitated on the threshold. He had to go in after her. The chimes ceased and still he wavered. What was he waiting for?
I wouldn't go in there if I were you, he heard a voice say. He snapped his eyes up to where a striped cat reclined above the doorway, its bulk still stretched along the ledge as it had been the morning that the listeners hauled him inside before the council. Then it had greeted him with a moment of understanding, but he felt no sympathy from it now as it peered down at him through slitted, yellow eyes. You remember what happened last time, don't you? its voice sounded in his mind. Maybe this time you don't come out.
"How can I leave her in there?" he replied. "I have to go get her!"
Suit yourself. But don't say I didn't warn you. The cat yawned, its tongue curling between needle teeth, and then stretched back against the shelf to resume its endless nap.
He shook his head, angry at the creature's indifference, and reached for the darkness again. This time his hand went deeper. Something grabbed him and began drawing him in. He gasped at the fiery touch. Try as he might, he couldn't pull away. He could only feel a burning spreading through his arm as it disappeared inch by inch, as his face came closer and closer to the opaque surface. The last thing he heard before being swallowed up was the cat's voice, a distant echo of disdain:
Foolish boy, why did you return?
Then he was falling. It was only a moment, but long enough in the silent void to feel as if he were slipping away from life. He had no sensation, only an impression of absence, and in that moment he was sure that he was blind again, this time for good. It's all been for nothing, he thought. But soon a mild jolt of impact shook him, and he discovered he was back on his feet and running.
There was no council chamber, no council. He was in a tunnel now instead. He could see her before him once more, very close, the thin shadow of a girl, her hair flowing back, brushing the tips of his reaching fingers. There was a strange glow before her, illuminating her profile, lighting up the rough-hewn walls of the tunnel around them. He called out to her again, trying not to cough as smoke began trailing behind her.
"Stop, Delaney! Don't run! You don't need to!" he called out, trying to wipe the tears from his blinking eyes as the smoke thickened.
She seemed to hear his cry, for suddenly she slowed, then halted before him in the tunnel. He slowed too and came up behind her. He reached out, put his hand on her shoulder and turned her around, desperate to see her face. He had never seen her face before.
He recoiled, blinking not from smoke now but from the erupting brightness as she turned toward him. He squinted, unable to see her face, only the twin sparks of brilliance that shone from the sockets of what were once her eyes.
"What's happened to you?" he gasped, moving closer in spite of his horror.
The light dimmed slightly, but she didn't answer as a plume of smoke rose from each eye, thick black smoke that curled up and then down, winding around his legs, fixing him in place. He could barely make out any part of her face, but her mouth seemed to curl into a smile as her eyes brightened again, growing more intense every second. He peered even closer and saw how the eyes were flickering, little tendrils of light that curled out and around her face. They were flames.The Seer. Copyright © by David Stahler Jr.. Reprinted by permission of HarperCollins Publishers, Inc. All rights reserved. Available now wherever books are sold.
Most Helpful Customer Reviews
Interesting story line. I will like to see where he goes with this story.
Jacob grew up in Harmony, a city populated entirely by blind people. In the previous story (TRUESIGHT) Jacob was forced to leave Harmony. Because Jacob can see. After being ostracized by the only family and community he had ever known, and observing firsthand the treachery of the man in charge, Jacob fled to the unknown. Which is where THE SEER picks up.
Jacob wasn't completely prepared for his journey. He is traveling on foot through foreign areas, it's been days since he's eaten or drank anything, and he's heading towards a place he was raised to dislike. Jacob is beginning to doubt the wisdom of leaving Harmony, even if he is a fugitive.
He is "rescued" by Xander. Xander lives alone outside of the city and the painful memories that live there. In a way they are both attempting to escape their pasts. Perhaps that is why Xander is willing to help Jacob, in his own gruff way.
Jacob has a mission. His friend, Delaney, was banished from Harmony by her own father. She traveled the same roads as Jacob, without the benefits of sight. Jacob feels driven to find his friend.
Finding her turns out to be easy. Getting to her? Well, that's another story entirely. Jacob and Xander are going to have to rely on and trust each other, and that's just the beginning.
In addition to being a great, intelligent, futuristic adventure, there are real characters with good stories. And it's just a really interesting concept. To start with, there's a city where being blind is the only way. Even though Jacob didn't fit in there, it's still comforting because it was a place he knew. Add in a girl who should have fit in there, but didn't. A man who can't seem to find any place where he fits. And some people who will try to make everybody fit into what they want them to be.
Sometimes what you think you want isn't really what you want at all.
The reason this only scores a 3 in my opinion is that it definitely will not interest everyone. Some people, maybe, I will give it that. The biggest issue is 'what happens?' If you are into action and people getting 0wn3d (as I am), then very little happens. In fact, you will be quite disapointed as three times the characters get into a situation where it looks like this is just about to happen, only to have the protagonists (including an ex-soldier) run away. If you are into literature that is rich in ideas, characters, the general crap (I refer to it as such as I never read stuff for this) then it may be recommended. I'm not in a good position to guage this compared to other literature of this type, I have neither read enough of it or capable of thinking in this way to tell. Oh yeah, almost forgot: If you enjoy reading science fiction for speculation on future technology, society, etc, you will probably be disappointed. The Seer, save a few references to anti-grav, interstellar travel and implanted eyes, (none of which is explored in detail), could pretty much be set now. In fact it would be entirely possible to set it now if he really wanted to. I have heard people say it is set on another planet so he can explore this particule society/themes/whatnot without current belief systems getting in the way, but I'm not in a position to comment. I should also note that I am for the most part not into supernatural stuff in sci-fi The Seer actually offered promise for me in this respect as I wanted some good stuff with no supernatural. Anyway, the revelation towards the latter stages of the novel (not the end) involved this (I will not say exactly what) and a few other things was a major disappointment because a) it involved supernatural nonsense when it didn't have to b) it was totally unrelated to anything else that happened in the novel. At this point you may well be asking why I have spent the majority of this review paying the novel out yet still rating it 3 when, form my perspective, it would only rate 1 or 2. The answer is simply that what I like is defined by rules not shared by many people. I am willing to bet that what matters for you does not matter much for me, and I know that other people would like this. It didn't work very well for me, as I generally read for fun and entertainment themes are not important for me. If you read for this, don't bother here. I know other people may find it better, which is why I didn't rate it lower. In short, I won't be reading it again, but you might.