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Thursday, November 30, 2006

Ender's Shadow

Ender's Shadow (Ender, Book 5) by Orson Scott Card

1 of 1 people found the following review helpful:

October 17, 2001

This book is an interesting idea: take a popular book like Ender's Game and then retell the entire story through the point of view of another character, Bean. It seems odd because we never did learn anything about Bean in Ender's Game (except that he was small and kind of mouthy), but that does make everything seem fresh.

Ender's Shadow follows Bean's story from the toilet of an organ farm to the streets of Rotterdam to the final apocalyptic battle to defeat the Buggers. Bean, in my mind, is actually a better character than Ender Wiggin. Ender was always seeming to whine about his fortune in life: his brother, leaving his family, the constant grinding of the Battle School. Bean, on the other hand, because he was hardened on the mean streets, pretty much takes life as it is, without moping around. Bean ends up as the second-stringer to Ender, solely because his small size and obvious youth make it hard for him to get respect (a Rodney Dangerfield complex) to be able to lead fleets in battle.

The largest problem with this book, which I noticed in Ender's Game, is that Bean is not Ender's friend or right-hand man, in fact he's largely ignored by Ender. The issue with that is that in Ender's Game, Bean does almost nothing, but now in Ender's Shadow, he's this important supergenius who is behind a lot of the events of Ender's Game, including the creation of Ender's army at Battle School. It seems to me like Card is trying to fit a square peg into a round hole, and while I largely didn't mind that since the point of view of Ender's Game was mostly Ender Wiggin, which inhibited finding out about other characters, it does make me think that a lot of Ender's Shadow is just forced.

Another problem is that like Ender's Game, the ending of Ender's Shadow is also rushed. As soon as Ender leaves the Battle School, we get very little detail about what happens to Bean the final 8 days he spends at the school, and his experiences at Tactical/Command school are similarly rushed. After there is so much detail about Bean's early days, it's disappointing that the conclusion is so quickly brought to a close.

I'm sure there's probably a big debate somewhere about which book is better, Ender's Game or Ender's Shadow. I preferred Shadow, because I liked Bean better than Ender, not just because he seemed less whiny, but also that he didn't become some weird mystic at the end. I'd recommend reading both and see which you prefer.

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