47 of 48 people found the following review helpful
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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