Ender’s ShadowPosted: September 3, 2012
I might have enjoyed Ender’s Game, but I loved Ender’s Shadow.
Still by Orson Scott Card, this book is a parallel novel, not a sequel. It takes place during the same time period, from a different character’s perspective.
The book opens with a small child watching a crew of children on the streets of Rotterdam. The children, presumably orphans, make their beds in alleys and their food by theft. This child in particular is not part of the crew, so nobody looks out for him. There are other crews, but he has picked this one to watch.
He comes to them with an idea. They name him “Bean,” because he isn’t worth a bean. They try his idea; it works; and they suddenly have enough to eat each day, and protection from the bigger kids, the bullies.
Bean has succeeded. He will again succeed.
He’s recruited for Battle School (where Ender went to learn to fight the Formics) at the age of 4; most are recruited at 6. He has to be taught on Earth for a year before they’ll accept him. He’s taught by Sister Carlotta and proves himself to be easily as smart in many areas as an adult. This is a four-year-old. Eventually, he goes to Battle School and proceeds to figure out the ulterior motives everywhere, and singlehandedly manipulate several parts of humanity’s current government.
This kid is like the definition of evil genius, except he’s not really evil. He just looks out for himself.
And eventually he’ll discover that nothing is as it seems.
Again, nothing flowery, but Bean is portrayed wonderfully, considering that Scott Card is not possibly as smart as Bean is (no offense to him, but clearly he was not as intelligent as an adult at the age of 4). I think 6/5.
Bean definitelydevelops from a 2-year-old in Rotterdam. He even develops between the ages of 2 and 3, let alone the ages of 4 to 6, and then on. Bean isn’t very social, so there are lots of people he never really talks to, but his friends (although they don’t all develop) are deep and complex. I especially loved the character called Achilles: “Achilles never ceased to be astonished at how the universe bent to his will. Whatever he wished seemed to come to him. … As if the universe were created to serve him, with all the people in it tuned to resonate with his desires.
The battleroom was cool beyond belief. War in a box. Point the gun, the other kid’s suit freezes. Of course, Ambul had made the mistake of demonstrating this by freezing Achilles and then laughing at his consternation at floating in the air, unable to move, unable to change the direction of his drift. People shouldn’t do that. It was wrong, and it always gnawed at Achilles until he was able to set things right. There should be more kindness and respect in the world.
…But he knew this: He’d learn what he needed to learn. Opportunities would appear. And he, being Achilles, would see those opportunities and seize them. Nothing could interrupt his rise until he held all the power there was to hold within his hands. Then there would be perfect justice in the world, not this miserable system that left so many children starving and ignorant and crippled on the streets while others lived in privilege and safety and health. All those adults who had run things for thousands of years were fools or failures. But the universe obeyed Achilles. He and he alone could correct the abuses.”
So…he should kill everyone who’s mean to him, because “there should be more kindness and respect in the world.”! 5/5
This has the same basic plot as Ender’s Game, but, as Bean is a different person from Ender, comes from a different place, and carries his own issues up to Battle School. Ender’s Shadow is not Ender’s Game. It is, in my opinion, better; but it’s definitely different, and its plot is never predictable, except where Bean practically predicts the future due to his intelligence. 5/5
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