In the spirit of the movies Groundhog Day and Back to the Future, Nancy Etchemendy has written a sci-fi story that is in step with the information age. Gib Finney, the narrator in The Power of Un (Ages 10Ð14), recounts the events surrounding his bizarre encounter with a filmy old man in the woods. The elderly man offers a battered, duct-taped, calculator-looking device to Gib, a device that has the power of Un. Much like a computer's Undo command, the Ôunner' contraption allows one to un-do certain events by traveling through time.
Etchemendy's wise writing style begins her tale in a very immature, disorganized manner; the story seems convoluted until Gib gains the wisdom and maturity to sort it all out. She does not waste any time delving into serious issues, either; about a third of the way through the book, Gib's sister Roxy is involved in an accident that leaves her comatose for life. Can Gib figure out how to undo the incident? And if he does, is it the right thing to do? Seems like a no-brainer, but Etchemendy has carefully woven Gib's story to demonstrate the ripple effects of our actions.
This is a book that explores why bad things happen to good people; why something may seem right at the time, but has detrimental effects; and why sometimes, in fact, a spade is merely a spade.
The Power of Un is a wonderful study in point of view and spirituality. Older readers will be thrown by the initially simplistic tone, but Etchemendy proceeds into a much deeper philosophical level very quickly.
Even with the power of Un, Gib finds himself with more questions than answers. As technology continues to advance at speeds that were unheard of just decades ago, The Power of Un forces us to question our responsibility and accountability in this arena and more importantly toward humanity and individual sense of wonder.