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Customer Review

47 of 48 people found the following review helpful
3.0 out of 5 stars Enjoyable read, but thin, thin, thin plotline, December 31, 2009
This review is from: Ender in Exile (The Ender Quintet) (Mass Market Paperback)
Ender's Game is my favorite novel, so read this review with that understanding. Ender's Game is not the best novel ever written, but the one I enjoyed the most because I could relate viscerally to Ender. This book doesn't reach anything close to that standard, but I found myself reading it in one day until 1 a.m., unable to sleep without finishing it. But then again, I'm an Ender lifer.
For starters, don't bother reading this if you haven't read Ender's Game and at least Ender's Shadow and Speaker for the Dead. Those are the three essential books in the Ender's Game pantheon, with the rest tending to get progressively lame. (Children of the Mind ending up in bigtime lame-o territory, sadly. Card talks in the afterward of this book about how he didn't bother to reread his old books, and I can see why! PLEASE, rewrite Xenocide and Children of the MInd! Or pay another writer to redo them.)

Back to the review: For Ender fans, Ender in Exile is a must read -- there are simply too many expository tidbits and loose ends getting tied. But the plotline is very thin. The new characters are garden variety Card staples -- young girl dealing with overbearing mother, adult who underestimates Ender (ENDER!) even after he's saved humanity, yada yada yada. Ender himself is always interesting, and keeps you reading for more. But Valentine is relegated to a bit part after a promising start. Graff makes several appearances as a sort of Father of Humanity Demigod which proves a convenient way for Card to chew through pages and adds some convenient act of god/act of Graff plot twists. But all of the characters seem like chess pieces in a puzzle of the Enderverse rather than having much in the way of depth or resonance. A lot of the book is simply Card remembering to check plot boxes -- "oh, right, I have to have Ender write The Hegemon, find The Hive Queen, yada yada yada." Perhaps the biggest problem is that very little is actually happening in Ender in Exile, although Card invents a couple of hurdles for Ender to deal with to give the book narrative momentum. But mainly we are reading to see what is going on with Ender -- how he transitions from war hero to humane Speaker for the Dead. Mostly he just seems to mope. I was hoping for a more interesting conversation between Ender and The Hive Queen, but Card is very sparing with Ender's internal thoughts, doling them out slowly to keep you wanting more.

Without giving away what actually happens in the book, it left me with a sense of deepening melancholy, and perhaps that is what Card intends? You do get the sense of intense loneliness that Ender must feel, even moreso as everything he knows save Valentine will fade into dust as he hops from world to world on his journey. Makes you want to embrace everyone you know, hard. And shed a tear for Ender.

One other thing - Card keeps fancying that he is improving as a writer with more experience, etc., and says so in his afterward as a reason not to reread his old books. I disagree. Let's face it, he has NOT improved as a writer since 1984. If anything he's gotten lazier and more arrogant in his religious/political viewpoints and stereotyping. Maybe it's time for a new editor, one who will challenge him more?
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Showing 1-3 of 3 posts in this discussion
Initial post: Jan 16, 2010 11:08:07 AM PST
Akemi says:
He needs an editor to say, STOP WITH THE NAGGING! This is NOT a sermon, but a book. But no one seems to call him on it.
I think he handled romance and sex issues so much better in the original series. None of this chick sounding like a zombie wanting to devour some guy's brain for her baby. There was true love and feeling there. And less lecturing. The dude is regressing... lost Boys is a very early book of his and it's waaaaaaaaaaaay better than this book by far because there's just more... FEELING. Sure the good characters are super good and the bad characters are super bad, but still. There was heart there.

Posted on Mar 11, 2013 7:17:47 AM PDT
DisplacedMic says:
i don't understand how you can call the speaker series "lame-o"

In reply to an earlier post on Oct 11, 2013 12:38:41 PM PDT
He didn't say "the speaker series" (a set you made up, by the way), he said Children of the Mind. And "lame" pretty much covers it. After all the promise and power of Speaker for the Dead, I purchased Xenocide with some excitement. Three hundred pages of nattering later, I thought, "OoooKay. So the next book is going the work this all out?" Then I read Children of the Mind, and it is the most mind-numbingly pretentious, pointless book I've read since Poe's Eureka (yes, I am the one living person who has actually read Eureka). Philotes my pink petunia.

Ender's Shadow actually revived the series with an innovative twist, but from there it has degenerated into a soap box for Card's authoritarian sermonizing. Ender in Exile is essentially Chapter 15 inflated to 300 pages, and another chunk of gullible money in Card's pocket. And if you still craving snake oil, don't miss the Formic Wars trilogy, written for Card. Scheiss.
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