Ender’s Shadow by Orson Scott Card

Why I Read It: I’m enraptured by the Enderverse!

Where I Got It: The library.

969454Who I Would Recommend This To: Folks who enjoyed Ender’s Game would probably like this book – it’s a great complimentary book.

Narrators: Stefan Rudnicki, Gabrielle de Cuir, Scott Brick

Publisher: MacMillan Audio (2005)

Length: 15 hours 42 minutes

Series: Book 1 Shadow Saga

I know that I kind of jumped out of order in which the books were written, but I couldn’t resist going back to Ender’s Game through the eyes of Bean. It was actually pretty cool to read the two books so close together. If you’ve read Ender’s Game, then you already know that Bean is pretty darn smart for his young age; you have to be to end up at Battle School. So this tale is about Bean’s origins and his journey to Battle School and then tagging along to help Ender save the human race. If you haven’t read Ender’s Game, I would strongly suggest starting there instead of with Ender’s Shadow, and I believe both books would be an excellent read before the movie comes out.

Once again, Orson Scott Card shows his depth of understanding of the human heart and psyche. While not as moving as Speaker for the Dead, Ender’s Shadow still contained several poignant moments. Bean is yet another of the numerous orphans on the streets of crowded Rotterdam. He manages to join a small gang and comes up with a plan that changes the paradigm in his neighborhood. This, of course, brings himself and his little gang to the attention of the authorities who are ever searching for that talented few that will succeed in beating off the next Bugger attack.

Pretty soon, we are rocketing up to Battle School with Bean who has to learn a whole new way of life, including friendship and trust. Even though I already knew the outcome of the many confrontations from reading Ender’s Game, it was still nail biting suspense to see them through Bean’s eyes. Of course, there were a number of events that happened in Bean’s life that are not in Ender’s Game, keeping the reader interested even though the book’s ending is known.

My one complaint with this novel is that cleverness and knowledge seem to by accentuated in Bean’s character, even beyond what I would allow for a genious kid. Without spoiling anything, there is a scene where Baby Bean hides in a small thing of water for several hours. Now, putting aside the brain power and knowledge necessary to do so successfully, a hairless being that small needs to be concerned about hypothermia. These instances were few and small, but still I feel they detracted a bit from the overall novel, especially since I know what Card is capable of in Speaker for the Dead.

The audio production and narration was superb. The same crew played a role in this novel and that helps greatly in enjoying such a large branching series in audio format. Stefan Rudnicki, always a favorite, was Graff and he plays him so very well. It was great to have Gabrielle de Cuir and Scott Brick along for the read also.

readandreviewbuttonWhat I Liked: Bean has some good one-liners; learning about trust and friendship can be just as scary as having street smarts pounded into you; a good ending for Bean.

What I Disliked: A few exaggerated points that I felt were beyond even a genius child in a scifi story; why are there so few girls at Battle School?

This review is part of The Read & Review Hop hosted by On Starships and Dragonwings. Make sure to stop by over there to enjoy more book reviews.

Speaker for the Dead by Orson Scott Card

Picabuche’s & Waffles’ snuggle was interrupted.

Why I Read It: Ender’s Game was excellent, and I wanted to continue the series.

Where I Got It: The library.

Who Do I Recommend This To: Fiction lovers of any genre.

Narrators: Stefan Rudnicki, David Birney, & others

Publisher: MacMillan Audio (2005)

Length: 14 hours 9 minutes

Series: Ender’s Saga 2

Orson Scott Card set a high bar with Ender’s Game and I emphatically say that he not only surpassed that bar, but left it far behind. Speaker for the Dead redefined for me what intricate plot and character depth are.

Set ~3000 years after Ender’s Game, this tale takes place on a world inhabited by a sentient species referred to as the Piggies who have not attained metal working or agriculture or animal husbandry. Their culture is quite different from any human cultures. In fact, the humans are isolated to a single city, Milagre, and only a limited few humans are allowed to interact with the Piggies.

Milagre is primarily a Catholic Portuguese settlement. Novina’s parents were scientists that made it possible for a human colony, successfully combating an epidemic that took their lives, leaving Novina an orphan. Time passes and she becomes an apprentice to Pipo, along with his son Libo who both study the Piggies. Eventually, there are human deaths and a Speaker for the Dead is called to speak the deaths.

I love this idea of a Speaker for the Dead, a person who will ask the hard questions of the living to capture the full picture of the life lived of the dead, all the good and the bad. The people of Milagre have various reactions to the Speaker, Andrew Ender Wiggin. Many believe it to be taboo to speak ill of the dead, whether true or not.

This was a complex, beautiful, emotion-wrenching novel. Card’s strength in writing deep characters really shows through in this tale. Couple that with a well-thought out plot that includes details of a culture very different from humans, then you have a fully engaging story.

The audio production was excellent. Stefan Rudnicki is a favorite narrator and it is good to hear his voice again as Ender.

What I Liked: Everything. OK – Jane, Ender’s electronic friend; the Piggies; pealing back the secrets in order to heal a community; the short interview with the author at the end.

What I Disliked: I don’t understand the cover of the audiobook – I am not sure what it has to do with the book.

As part of Stainless Steel Droppings’ R.eaders I.mbibing P.eril event, I am going to count this book as dark science fiction (vivisection counts as dark, right?). This event is still going strong until the end of October, so feel free to hop over there and join the fun.