Nic's Reviews > Speaker for the Dead

Speaker for the Dead by Orson Scott Card
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Dec 27, 2011

liked it
bookshelves: sci-fi, psychological, classic, young-adult, 3-stars
Recommended for: sci-fi fans
Read from January 21 to 28, 2012

It's definitely understandable to me why so many people consider this a lesser book in comparison to Ender's Game. I feel, though, that trying to weigh one against the other is like comparing apples to oranges. They are simply very different books with different focuses. Ender's Game has more mass appeal because there is a sense of epicness -- the fate of humanity hangs in the balance and this is made clear from the beginning. There's a hurried pace and feeling of action, lives on the line. It's hard to dream up a more exciting setting than fighting for the future of the human race.

OSC has said that he feels that Young Adults gravitated more towards Ender's Game because Ender was a child or relatively young for most of the novel and this is probably true to an extent. However, I think that's not the only explanation here and not really the significant either. Speaker for the Dead was a much more mature novel than Ender's Game and on top of that much more layered. While reading it, I found it hard to even forumlate how I was going to cover all my opinions on this book because there's just so many facets. Inevitably, I will leave things out because there are far too many angles too look at. One of the few things this book has in common with Ender's Game is that A LOT happens in not so many pages. But as I mentioned before the events are far more complex and address more than just Ender's perspective.

I'll begin by saying again: Do not expect to find the same things here you found in Ender's Game. The focus of Speaker is far less on Ender's development and more on his impact on others. He is no longer a Commander of starfleets struggling with the pressure put upon him but rather he seems much more stable and has a job, finally, that lets him to use his talents for betterment. He might actually be at peace save for the fact that the Hive Queen still needs a home. So the story turns to this colony on the planet Lusitania and...basically everything about it. The colony was created for people to study an entirely different race -- the Piggies.

Although Ender is the main protagonist once again and plays an important role in the story, he isn't the same Ender from the previous book. He's not in a pressure cooker of emotion, stressed with the constant reminder that he is the only one who can save humanity. He's more of a kind, wise figure trying to bring peace to others through his Speaking, which is a concept that I like and thought was portrayed beautifully in the story. My favorite part might be the actual Speaking ceremony. I was going to complain that the new characters and inhabitants of Lusitania didn't mean much to me until I read this section. And while they still teeter towards interesting and forgettable to me, this scene somehow solidified my investment in what happens to them. I noticed someone else described this book as a soap opera which amused me a lot because there is certainly that sort of element to it. But I'd rather have it a little dramatic than too boring, personally.

I have to say that even though I might not like Speaker of the Dead quite as much as Ender's Game, I'm attracted to OSC;s style of writing. I like how he focuses on relationships and they way people interact with each other. He's excellent at portray things from a humanistic perspective. A lot of people complained that this book is where Card started to inject his own (controversial) political and religious beliefs into the story. I can't really speak much on since my interest in the story the anthropological and sociological standpoints. I glossed over the more political things. that So while it's not the sequel that many people wanted it to be, it's still a worthwhile read and a solid piece of science fiction, in my opinon. I doubt it will be one of the most memorable books I read and I will forget many details as time passes but I don't regret reading it.

The one theme I can say is similar to Ender's Game is the difficulties faced when dealing with not only an entirely different culture, but an entirely different race. Things that seem so universal as death can be interpreted differently and lead to grave misunderstanding. The science elements seemed interesting and well thought out. Would definitely recommend to other sci-fi fans.
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