Poke kept her eyes open all the time. The younger children were supposed to be on watch, too, and sometimes they could be quite observant, but they just didn't notice all the things they needed to notice, and that meant that Poke could only depend on herself to see danger. (from the first line)
|In this new parallel novel to Ender's Game, Card tells the story of another child in the Battle School, a boy named Bean, whose past was a fight just to survive and whose mind was leagues beyond anyone else's.
You can't step into the same river twice, but Card has gracefully dipped twice into the same inkwell--once for Ender's Game and again for this stand-alone "parallel novel." The course readers will follow this time is of the superhuman child Bean. Raised on streets ruled by starving children's gangs, he was too weak, at age four, to hold peanuts in his hand, but ingenious enough to trick the other children into civilizing themselves--and to keep himself alive. When his genius and uncanny understanding of individuals' motivations are discovered, he is sent to Battle School, where children learn to command fleets for the war with the alien Buggers--the smallest kid ever to do so. Bean is not as perfect as Ender Wiggin--hero of the Ender Quartet, begun with Ender's Game and concluded with Children of the Mind--but he becomes Ender's ally. Though Bean is cold at first, the kind of child who weighs the costs of hugging the nun who saved him from the streets, he wants to understand the respect and love that Ender wields. Thus, Bean's story is twofold: he learns to be a soldier, and to be human. Devotees of the Ender saga will delight in the revelations about the formation of Ender's Dragon army and about the last of Ender's games. Though newcomers to the series may miss many of the novel's points, the wonders of Battle School and flashsuits and children's armies should keep them turning pages. As always, everyone will be struck by the power of Card's children, always more and less than human, perfect yet struggling, tragic yet hopeful, wondrous and strange.
From the Publisher:
Follows the life of Ender Wiggin's comrade Bean, from his escape from the mean streets of Rotterdam, to his student days at the Battle School, and to his role as Ender's right hand ally, strategist, and friend in the epic struggle to save Earth from alien invaders
ENDER'S SHADOW Shadow opens a portal into Card's previous quartet, The Enders. Here, the "Buggers," an insectlike alien race, battle the Earth with astonishing and inscrutable ferocity, and they are winning. The Earth seeks its future military leaders from among children and raises them to become fighters with a genius for battle. The early life of Bean, Ender's right-hand from previous books, comes into focus in this book as readers see him scrapping for survival among child gangs. His adroit manipulations and master insight into his enemies' minds brings him to the attention of Earth's leaders, and he is whisked off into space to attend Battle School with Ender Wiggin. Bean's engrossing story of political maneuvering and becoming human in an infallible world will satisfy fans of Ender's Game and new readers alike.
Orson Scott Card was born and raised in a Mormon family and has continually pointed out that Mormonism is the primary force in his life. He attended Brigham Young University and the University of Utah, and spent time in Brazil as a Mormon missionary. His earliest writings were radio and stage plays (Card has estimated the number at over 100) telling the history of Mormonism. His first published fiction was the science fiction short story called "Ender's Game" in 1977, which was nominated for a Hugo Award and a Reader's Award from Locus magazine. The Locus Award is based on votes compiled from the magazine's readers and is important in demonstrating just how popular Card is with readers. Since that story, Card has been nominated for or won the award more than 30 times, which is extraordinary considering the relatively short time that he has been writing fiction. In 1985, Card published an expanded version of "Ender's Game" as a novel, and won both the Hugo and Nebula awards. It was followed by a sequel in 1986, SPEAKER FOR THE DEAD, which also won the Hugo and Nebula, marking the first time in the history of the awards that one author won both in successive years. Card's next series of books, the Alvin Maker series, started in 1987 with SEVENTH SON. This series is set in an alternate past of America, and is closely modeled on the reported life of Joseph Smith, the founder of Mormon Church. The Homecoming series--THE MEMORY OF EARTH, THE CALL OF EARTH, THE SHIPS OF EARTH, EARTHBORN, and EARTHFALL--repeats this theme, but in a space opera setting. Card has also written nonfiction--his first book, LISTEN, MOM AND DAD..., was actually about child-rearing. He has also tried his hand at horror, mainstream, and children's fiction, and he is also a respected editor and reviewer.
"[A] curious if quite skillful exercise in point of view that adds nothing of real significance to the Ender saga, that rolls the saga back to its starting point,...but that is very likely to regain for Card that substantial young-adult audience (measured not entirely by the actual age of the readers) whose attention began to drift once the narrative moved beyond the primal world of smart kids and bullies. ENDER'S SHADOW brings that world right back, and smart kids are doing to eat it up."
- Gary K. Wolfe