Nicholas Karpuk's Reviews > Ender's Shadow

Ender's Shadow by Orson Scott Card
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's review
Dec 29, 2008

really liked it
Recommended for: Strategy Nerds, Nerds, Risk Enthusiasts (Nerds), Angry Dwarves, and Sci Fi Enthusiasts
Read in January, 2009

When I read a description of a book summing it up as a retelling of a story from a different perspective, I groan internally and my interest wanes slightly.

Ender's Shadow follows those exact lines. We switch from Ender's perspective to Bean's, the brilliant dwarf child who serves under his command.

What shocked me the most was how much more I preferred Bean's perspective. Ender grew up with a loving family and had a generally conventional outlook for a genius. Bean functions as a direct contradiction, having grown up in squalor with no family, a tiny body, and a brain capable of cutting through almost anything.

Bean spends most of the novel slicing through the world of the Battle school at angles that give him vastly more information and awareness of the world than Ender possessed, and his angry, calculating view gives the story a much richer perspective.

The only issues arise from the few points where it directly intersects Ender's Game. Bean wasn't written with a great deal of depth in the original story, he qualified as a background character, and anytime his conversations with Ender come up, the interactions feel weirdly unnatural. It's almost as if this larger, more multi-faceted Bean doesn't fit back in his original container.

Despite what Card states in the introduction, you should not read this book first. Many bits of necessary exposition from Ender's Game are not reiterated here, and part of the fun derives from getting Bean's bird's-eye view of what Ender's witnessed from within the trenches.

The score I gave this book should almost be the score awarded to the two books collectively, as I read them consecutively. There's a reason Card wanted to movie adaptation to essentially be a combination of Ender's Game and Ender's Shadow. The two complement each other amazingly well.
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Reading Progress

12/30/2008 page 150
02/11/2016 marked as: read

Comments (showing 1-6 of 6) (6 new)

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message 1: by Colin (last edited Jan 02, 2009 12:31PM) (new)

Colin McKay Miller You need to add a couple more parenthetical 'nerds' in the 'recommended for' section.

Oh, and apparently Card is kind of a tool in person (according to the Internet chatter).

Nicholas Karpuk That's what I've heard almost across the board, and his forwards and afterwords both present a guy who does not lack self confidence.

Both his books have some long rants about how people in charge and too stupid to recognize brilliance. I know fiction is a funhouse mirror into the creator's mind, making psychoanalyzing perilous, but it does make me wonder.

Kaylie I agree with you completely in your review. I am rereading Ender's Shadow right now and I can definately see the meaning in your words.

Heather I have to disagree that Ender "grew up with a loving family." Ender was around five when he left, growing up in a military institution, mostly away from his peers. Also, he was born for his genetics- his brother hated him. His early few years were completely different then Bean's, just not with any warm fuzzies, like you implied.

Kaylie Heather wrote: "I have to disagree that Ender "grew up with a loving family." Ender was around five when he left, growing up in a military institution, mostly away from his peers. Also, he was born for his genetic..."

It is true that Ender's life wasn't perfect before going to Battle School, but you are only focusing on the bad things in his life. Even if Peter disliked Ender, Valentine loved him dearly. Also, compared to Bean's life, Ender's was pretty darn good.

message 6: by [deleted user] (new)

Great review! Personally, I love both of these books equally, but I can definitely see where you're coming from, and I agree about when Bean and Ender are having conversation, it's awkward. I think Card would have done better to write Bean's character out fully before putting him into Ender's Game. Throughout Ender's Shadow, he's so amazingly well developed, but when it comes to the intersecting between the two books, it goes back to Bean's undeveloped, borderline primitive ways of thought. I can't help thinking to myself "Bean wouldn't say that now." However, I don't know many authors that could do what Card has done, and he's still one of my favorite sci-fi writers. :)

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