Thursday, April 5, 2012

E: Ender's Game and Ender's Shadow

I’m a sucker for books about brilliant, analytical kids. I also love books that cover the same plot and characters from dramatically different points of view, which is what we get today.

As it turns out, I can't find my copy of Ender's Game. That's all right - it's probably the most famous "accessible" science fiction novel (as opposed to famous SF books written by people clearly more interested in physics and engineering than in garnering a large readership), so I don’t need to say much about it.

I do, however, have Ender's Shadow in front of me - in print, no less. I'm the only person I know who prefers Ender's Shadow to Ender's Game. Still, I (and many millions of readers) think they're both great books.

Now that The Hunger Games has managed to put kids killing kids on the big screen and get a PG-13 rating, maybe we'll finally see an Ender's Game movie. Though as far as I know, Orson Scott Card didn't intend Ender's Game to be MG or YA. It ended up being marketed as such because of his writing style and the age of the protagonist.

Ender’s Game by Orson Scott Card
Genre: science fiction


Ender's Game doesn't need much introduction, but I'll give it a shot: Earth has been warring with a hostile alien race for about a hundred years, and needs to decisively end the conflict before the aliens come back and wipe out the population. As part of the plan, the smartest kids on the planet are selected for Battle School (in a ship orbiting the earth - though I guess it's technically a satellite if it's permanently in orbit? Wow, this is hard to do when I can't just flip through the book).

Ender is the smartest of those kids, but he's also among the youngest and smallest, making him an easy target for bullying. And while he's up there playing battle games and figuring out how to save everyone, his older brother and sister (also very young and ridiculously smart) are back home, setting themselves up to take over the world.

Ugh. That's the last time I sum up a book I can't look through to refresh my memory.

Fortunately! I also have

Ender's Shadow by Orson Scott Card
Genre: science fiction


Maybe I liked this book better because I read it right after reading Ender's Game, when it was in fact written over a decade later. I felt like it filled in and fleshed out all sorts of things that were just alluded to in Ender's Game. The two books cover the same time period, but...

General premise Bean, an orphan surviving by his wits on the streets of Rotterdam, is discovered by a recruiter and selected to be part of Earth's plan to defend itself from enemyaliens. Bean is easily the most brilliant student at Battle School. Too brilliant to be trusted to follow the rules and toe the line the way most of the other kids are doing.

While Ender is more preoccupied with his personal and philosophical struggles, Bean wants to know why they're all there and what the adults are hiding from them. And unlike Ender, Bean knows how to look for the truth, because he's already spent most of his life fighting for survival.

I paused to get details from the book, and now I’m 124 pages into Ender’s Shadow. Must…resist…temptation…

12 comments:

  1. I've heard of these book and I've been wanting to read them for a while... now you've convinced me. I'm heading over to my library website to put them on hold. :)

    - Lauren @Word Art

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    1. MustReadNow! ;) And then afterwards, you can join the never-ending debate about whether Ender's Shadow is the better book or just the author cashing in. You know which side I'm on...

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  2. At the school at which I taught, Ender's Game was part of the ninth grade English curriculum. THey all read it, so there were a million copies floating around the school. (Nothing in that last sentence should be read as literal.)

    Strangely, I still haven't read it!

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    1. Wow. We never read books like this when I was in school. It was stuff like A Separate Peace & The Great Gatsby & Heart of Darkness and whatnot. Stuff I've never reread. Well, except for Candide. And Tale of Two Cities. Okay, I guess it wasn't all dreary and boring. :)

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  3. Oh thank god. I wanted to talk about Ender's or my E blog, but already had something else for the topic. SO glad someone else got to it. Great post and happy happy A-Z blogging!

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    1. Thanks! Ender's awesome, isn't he?

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  4. My kids love these books, but I could never get into them.

    Nice to meet you and I hope you're enjoying the Challenge!

    KarenG
    A to Z Challenge Host

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    1. Thanks, Karen. I'm discovering lots of blogs I would never have seen otherwise, so I'm having a great time with A to Z!

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  5. I've heard about these books a lot - I love SF (usually) so they've just moved up my TBR pile. Great post!

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    1. If you read a lot of SF you'll find these to be less...technical than you're used to. When people who haven't read much SF ask me for recommendations, I always suggest Ender's Game and Old Man's War by John Scalzi. You get all the excitement of futuristic technology without pages and pages explaining how every gear and cog works. ;)

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  6. Yes!! I loved Ender's Game. :)

    I'm also doing a book theme for the A-Z...so fun! Now, off to catch up on the rest of your previous posts.

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    1. OMG, A Wrinkle in Time? Eragon? Dragonflight?! Yes, please!

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