Ender’s Shadow – Orson Scott Card

Ender's Shadow (Shadow, #1)So, I didn’t write the review for Ender’s Game, so if I start saying loads of stuff that conflicts with the other review, that’s why. But I’m sure it’ll be ok.

So, this is the story of Bean, from Ender’s Game, and how he grew up and all that stuff.

Ok, I’m going to put it like this, if you haven’t read Ender’s Game, you should. Not just because it is EPIC, but because you’ll get a lot more depth from the story, when you read Ender’s Shadow. It skims over a lot of stuff that goes on in Ender’s Game. You can just read Ender’s Shadow on it’s own, it will still make sense, but you’ll get a lot more out of it if you read Ender’s Game as well.

Summary

Bean is a street urchin. Starving, looks like a toddler, and ridiculously smart. Seriously.

Ok, I’m going to put it this way. This may be a slight spoiler if you want to know absolutely nothing, but it’s pretty evident from the beginning of the book. Bean is smarter than Ender.

Yes, he is. Seriously a lot smarter than Ender. In the test to get into the school, Ender scored 98.5%. Bean scored 99%. The only reason he didn’t get 100% was because his physical ability wasn’t up to standard, as he was tiny and starved.

So Bean is starving, and he gets taken in by the group of starving children, then there’s this bully called Achilles who also becomes pretty important. And Poke, who is awesome.

And then he goes to Battle School, and you basically know the rest.

Cons

The Problem with a Parallel Story

When Orson Scott Card first wrote Ender’s Game, I’m guessing he didn’t really explore the character, Bean, as much. So when Bean started developing in Ender’s Shadow, with his past, his personality, his experience at battle school, his intellect being so freaking high, it must have been really hard for Orson Scott Card to make it plausible about the actions Bean took. They didn’t fit into his personality any more, as he really seemed like a different person.

For example, when he was having conversations with Ender. It was just little things he would say, or he would do. Instead of it coming naturally, Orson Scott Card (that is becoming really annoying to type out loads, let’s call him OSC), had to do stuff like “Oh, I said this even though I wanted to say this because I knew  this would happen”, as  an excuse for what he did. Which, while plausible, stood out to me. Because he had to force Bean to say these things, as it was a parallel, and it seemed so out of character. Not natural at all. Not that I blame OSC for doing it, it’s really hard, but it was just annoying at parts.

Pros

Ok, so if I’m reading the sequel (well, parallel, spin-off, companion) novel, it means I have no problem with the writing style, plot, characters, so on.

But let’s get this out of the way.

Writing Style & Dialogue = Amazing, as always.

Plot: Well, it’s the same as Ender’s Game for the most part, but I did LOVE the development at the beginning all about how Bean grew up in this place, so unlike Ender. Which makes despise people like Ender who grew up with privileges, parents, food, etc. And that makes me feel hostility for Ender, even though I love him as a character.

Characters: Achilles was so awesome. There was one part of the book, like a few pages or something, where we see into Achilles mind. Before, we absolutely hate him from Bean’s eyes, but that one glance is so creepy. The worst part is all his bad actions, he seem to think, are good. And we see why. He holds grudges for ages, and he is sick and twisted, but he thinks he’s doing the right thing. And I won’t deny it, for one second I agreed with him. For one, measly second I was like “Huh, I get where you’re coming from,”, but the next second, I was like :O YOU SICKO.

Poke. I loved her. But I also didn’t like her at the same time. Until the last time we see Poke before Bean leaves, and then I was so invested in her. She turned out to be such an awesome character, and almost like a moral guide for Bean. She also represents an underlying belief for Bean. He chose her because she was the most compassionate, she was the most caring. She gave the children more food and starved herself when there wasn’t enough to go around, but others took that as weak. She cared too much, and that led to people pushing her down, and her group of children turning on her. And I think I’m going to have to create a spoiler section after this review, so I can discuss the other stuff.

Bean. Awesomeness. The idea that he was smarter than Ender really was what did it for me. Because throughout the entirety of Ender’s Game they always pushed the idea that Ender was the only viable candidate to be the commander. But really, they also considered Bean. Graff just was so prejudiced against him that they chose Ender. They saw Ender as their golden boy, and completely overlooked Bean. Instead, they put all this pressure on Ender, when there was another person who could have done it. It all turned out good in the end, but still. And more to come in the spoiler section, because I’ve realised that there’s a lot I want to ramble about which may ruin stuff for some people.

Graff – I just like how OSC developed on why he got fired, and I really did start to hate him after a while. Even though I really liked him in the first book, now, I just wanted to slap him.

The other characters are also awesome, but I don’t have as much to develop on them.

Anyone else imagine Ender as like 40?

When I was reading Ender’s Shadow and Ender’s Game, it was really hard to imagine all these things that Ender was doing, coming from a 12 year old. Sometimes I would have to stop reading for a second and remind myself that Ender was a tiny little boy, but I just couldn’t fathom the idea. When he was commanding, I kept thinking of a veteran of war, an aged, jaded and brilliant adult. I guess that means it’s great writing. Because the idea that these kids really aren’t kids is pushed a lot in the books. And that really showed now.

So, Quotes. I’ll try as hard as I can to keep these spoiler free.

Quotes

  • “In my view, suicide is not really a wish for life to end.’
    “What is it then?’
    “It is the only way a powerless person can find to make everybody else look away from his shame. The wish is not to die, but to hide.”
  • “Isn’t that what it means to be civilized? That you can wait to get what you want?”
  • “Sister Carlotta, I’m on a leave of absence right now. That means I’ve been sacked, in case you don’t understand how the I.F. handles these things.”
    “Sacked! A miscarriage of justice. You ought to be shot.”
  • “That was interesting, to find that it wasn’t hunger that caused children to become bullies on the street. The bulliness was already in the child, and whatever the stakes were, they would find a way to act as they needed to act. … Intelligence and education, which all these children had, apparently didn’t make any important difference in human nature.”
  • “And then he thought: Is this how idiots rationalize their stupidity to themselves?”

Um, let’s do a spoiler section now. Because I lot I want to ramble on might spoil the book.

SPOILER ALERT WEEEEEEEE HEEEEEEEEEEE DON’T READ THIS IF YOU DON’T LIKE SPOILERS THERE ARE SOME BIG ONES IN HERE YUP GO SCROLL DOWN TO QUOTES

Ok. Poke. Her Death. I loved how it represented so much to Bean. That whatever you do, you can’t be kind or you’ll be killed. Smart, sure, that works. Bully? You’ll survive that way. But compassionate? That’s how you die. That’s when the bigger people push you down. Bean exploited this weakness, which is why he approached her. And even though she kicked him and called him worthless, he still cared for her because he knew she was doing it for her kids. And then her death. She was willing to sacrifice herself to save some little boy she hardly knew, and Bean could never comprehend why. He couldn’t understand love.

Which is one of the big differences between him and Ender. Ender loved his sister, had best friends, had good parents. He even loved his brother who could have killed him. Ender was loved, and loved people in return. Bean is more analytical. He only hugged Sister Carlotta because she needed it, not because he wanted to. He was alone, and cut off from the world. He found Ender a mystery in the way. He could never understand how Ender could love people, he was always trying to find Ender’s ulterior motives, even when they didn’t exist. I guess that’s why Bean didn’t die on the streets. I can feel a Dr Who reference coming, just because I watched that episode today.

“I have the two qualities you require to see absolute truth: I am brilliant and unloved.” – Miss Evangelista, Forest of the Dead.

😛

The other part that I loved about Bean, was that he worked out so quickly, what the teacher’s were up to. They would tell him one thing and he would immediately tell them what they were planning. I think that was one of the reasons the teachers didn’t want to make him commander. He was too intuitive. The reason Ender killed the Buggers was because he didn’t know what was going on. Bean did. Bean knew. They couldn’t trick him.

And the difference with Bean, being completely forgiving as opposed to Achilles who always held a grudge, was awesome. He was only driven by the determination to help Poke, because she was so kind, and bring someone to justice.

And did anyone else see that plot twist coming? About Bean and the genetic thing. Another reason why I started to hate Graff. He was so prejudiced against a boy who was fighting for them.

Quotes

  • “In my view, suicide is not really a wish for life to end.’
    What is it then?’
    It is the only way a powerless person can find to make everybody else look away from his shame. The wish is not to die, but to hide.”
  • “And then he thought: Is this how idiots rationalize their stupidity to themselves?”
  • “So it’s Mr. Wiggin and Who The Hell Are You.’
    ‘About right,’ Bean replied.”
  • “‘So I want to ask you a hypothetical question.’
    ‘My favorite kind. Next to rhetorical ones. I can nap equally well through either kind.'”
  • “That was interesting, to find that it wasn’t hunger that caused children to become bullies on the street. The bulliness was already in the child, and whatever the stakes were, they would find a way to act as they needed to act. … Intelligence and education, which all these children had, apparently didn’t make any important difference in human nature.”

Overall

4 1/2 shuriken stars. I think. That may change later, but for now, that’s how it stands. Read it if you really enjoyed Ender’s Game. If you didn’t, then don’t. But it’s an awesome book, and I loved it.

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