Thursday, November 20, 2008

Ender in Exile by Orson Scott Card

5183vhsemjl4I always hate reviewing Orson Scott Card books. He's such a fantastic writer and is my favorite author, so there's always a bit of nervousness about writing a review of one of his books. But I manage to, so I'll manage again. Ender in Exile is a strange kind of book. It's marketed as a direct sequel to Ender's Game, but the majority of the action takes place in between the last two chapters of Ender's Game (my favorite two chapters by the way). It's also somewhat of a prequel to Speaker for the Dead and a sequel of Shadow of the Giant at the same time. It's such a satisfying book because it wraps up so many loose ends and unanswered questions, but at the same time, it's frustrating when it's over only because it wasn't long enough! It doesn't go all the way to Speaker for the Dead, so I want another book now, lol. If you haven't read Ender's Game and plan on reading it, stop reading this now. Otherwhise, here's what the book's about. It takes place immediately after the war with the formics. It's been decided that Ender will not return to Earth due to some new revelations about the war and due to the fact that it will be impossible for him to find any peace on the planet. He will stay aboard the ship and will become governor of a new colony formerly habited by the buggers which has been named Shakespeare. No longer wanting to live under Peter's grasp and wanting to accompany her brother, Valetine decides to join Ender on the colony ship. Of course there are other colonists aboard the ship making their way to the new world including a new character by the name of Alessandra and her eccentric mother, Dorabella who's mission is to marry her daughter off the now adolescent Ender. I'm not going to go into much more detail for fear of giving away the whole plot, and it's quite a bit of story involved! We step foot on Shakespeare with Ender for the first time and see the planet that the buggers formerly inhabited. There are quite a few discoveries made on the planet and some interesting things happen. As is characteristic of all of Card's novels, there's excellent character development in Ender in Exile and the emotional realness of his characters pour through. I loved the story of Dorabella and her controlling, manipulative mother, of Dorabella and Ender courting each other in a romance that could never be, of the quiet, sometimes humorous moments between a brother and his sister, Ender and Valentine, of the endearing relationship that Ender and Colonel Graff have formed. It's all done perfect. Meanwhile, Ender has his own internal struggles and in a way, this is a coming of age novel. Ender is dealing with the fact that he has wiped out an entire species; that he has killed two boys in the past; that he has not written to his parents since he's been gone and he's not sure that their relationship is a true parent/child one anymore; that he is about to colonize the world of the species that he destroyed. All of this weighs on his mind and more. And it's fascinating to see this very human, yet super genius child work through everything. Here's one recommendation for those wondering "should I read this book if I've only read Ender's Game." The answer is if you plan on reading any of the Shadow books, you probably shouldn't read this. But you can read it as a sequel to Ender's Game. The only problem I would see with that is that many of the major plots of the Shadow series are discussed and come up again during this book. I actually really enjoyed this as I got to revisit many of the children from Battle School and got the answers to some questions I had. However, if you haven't read the Shadow books, there may be times where you'll be confused as Card doesn't go into huge detail about the other books, though he does make it to where a quick summary is given of previous events. I don't see any problem, honestly, with reading Speaker for the Dead before this one. It no longer makes sense chronologically, but nothing is given away in Ender in Exile that would spoil Speaker because Speaker hasn't happened yet in this book! Well there it is, I did it...I reviewed another Orson Scott Card book and it was mostly painless :p It truly is a well written and engaging story with excellent new characters and familiar characters from the past. At times, it felt like coming back home and I really enjoyed it. Now I just have to wait for the next book to come out :p Does anyone know if Shadows in Flight is still going to be released?

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