If you ever intend to read =Ender's Game=, make sure you do before reading this book. First of all, the "secrets" of the first novel are given away, and thus lessen the impact of surprise one gets on first reading =Ender's Game=. Secondly, the characterization and plotting in =Ender's Shadow= surpasses the original novel; a lot of time has passed since Card wrote his wildly popular book, and he has used his intervening time well in improving his craft as a storyteller.
Like =Ender's Game=, =Ender's Shadow= is a story about an execeptional child trying to fit in and succeed, in which the child has a nemesis who haunts his thoughts, and an advocate who seems to betray him. Upon multiple readings of both novels, more and more parallels pop out; however, I find the characters of Ender and Bean to be extremely different. Ender seems to sink further and further inside himself, as he tries to protect himself from the dangers which threaten him from outside; Bean starts as a cold, survival machine, remnant of his battles to stay alive on the streets of Rotterdam as a toddler, but as he moves on he reaches out to protect himself from his own external dangers. As Ender becomes more obsessed with the Buggers, Bean keeps thinking about the wider world, and the inevitable wars on Earth that would result from defeating the Buggers. At the end of the novel, Ender is about to leave Earth forever, to start on his long journey away from humanity as =Speaker for the Dead=; Bean returns to Earth to a new family and a new sense of purpose and humanity.
It does not matter that one knows what happens in =Ender's Game=; Card realized that Ender's point of view on Battle School and the world as a whole was extremely myopic. One finds new significance to dialogues between Ender and Bean, knowing the limitations both have in knowledge of the other. I'm glad Card revisited the story of Ender and has extended it to the period on Earth right after the Bugger War, which was glossed over in the Ender series. Bean's series continues with =Shadow of the Hegemon=, and the parallel stories have ended. If nothing else, one can note the maturation of Card as an author in the time between =Ender's Game= and =Ender's Shadow=, with more complex characterization and a sharper contrast of good vs. evil, =Ender's Shadow= definitely comes out on top.
Back to Reviews pageMary Pat Campbell, last updated July 2001