Wednesday, December 24, 2008 By: Suzanne

Ender in Exile

I will start this post by thanking Julie at FSB Associates for sending me this book. I have been a fan of Orson Scott Card's for a long time, so when I read about the give away for Ender in Exile I was very excited.

If you've read my post about re-reading Ender's Game, then you'll know that I recently met Orson Scott Card at a book signing here in my own town of Denton, TX. It made me realize that a person should never meet their idols! Not so much for myself but for my mother. She's the one that started my love of Ender and all the other stories in his world, so I was very sad that she had such a bad experience at the signing that she refuses to buy anymore of his books. For me, the wait in the line (more than 2 hours and I was close to the front!) was not so bad since I met another fan of Ender and Buffy. We got to talk for the entire two hours about the fantasy worlds we love. Meeting Card afterward, and talking to him about Speaker for the Dead (my favorite in the series) was a great experience for me after that. As for my mother, I hope this book will change her mind. She did say she would read it (simply because she doesn't have to buy it!).

On to the book. Again I impressed with Card's storytelling ability. When I heard the premise of the book, I just couldn't imagine that he could find enough for a full novel. The book takes place in between Ender's Game and the second book Speaker for the Dead, specifically between chapters 14 and 15, which he wrote to bridge the novelette of Ender's Game to the novel and the sequel. I just wasn't sure what he could say that would be different than what was ALREADY said. Of course, that's why he's the writer and I'm not. The book opens with a very touching scene between the Wiggin parents that made me see them in an entirely different light. They are finally given dimension, whereas before they seemed more like caricatures of parents.

A good portion of the book takes place on the ship between the base he is at in the end of Ender's Game and colony he becomes governor over afterward. It's mainly about the relationships that are formed and broken on the ship not only with Ender but with characters we've maybe never met before (at least I don't remember some of them). I truly enjoyed this part of the book and felt that when he actually arrived at the colony and settled an important conflict, the best part of the book was over. The rest was the icing on the cake.

One of the themes throughout the series, whether intentional or not, has been Ender's constant soul searching. "Am I a good person? Can I do what's expected of me? Should I bother?" Even though Ender's age in Earth years is well beyond his physical age of 17, in some ways he continues to think as a teenager. Card constantly tries to make the point that Ender is not like other children, through the first book, Ender's Shadow, and this new one, but I believe that his soul searching questions are more typical of teenagers than most people believe. For all his intelligence and training and separateness, Ender is still a teenager in need of reassurance and love. He eventually writes a very moving letter to his parents that hit a chord with me, as it could have been written from me to my grandparents. Parts of that letter were exactly things I have said and things I wish I could have said.

As good as this book was, I do not believe it could stand on it's own or even be considered the second book in the series. Now that I've read it I feel that, of course, this should have been written and completes the series like nothing else can. However, if I read this directly after reading Ender's Game for the first time, I think I would have been very disappointed and I can't even explain why. It simply doesn't work as a second book in the series even though, chronologically, that's where it fits. Maybe it's because there is too much recap and expanding on previous themes. Maybe it's because Ender is never really in danger of any kind because we know what happens later. Or maybe it's because I just love Speaker for the Dead so much that it will always be the perfect sequel to Ender's Game. Either way, this book is very well written and the story is captivating, but it could never be anything other than a stand alone novel about characters we already love.


Anonymous said...

Merry Christmas, Tonya!

Your review sounds good. I hate that your mom had a bad experience! That's always a bummer.

What books did you get for Christmas? You did get some books, didn't you? ;D

Tonya said...

Yep! I got Wally Lamb's new book The Hour I First Believed from my sister. I was so excited I stayed up realy late last night reading it! I also got myself the next book in the Ender series so I could re-read that. It's been so long since I read them that I really don't remember it. It'll be like reading new books with characters I love.

What books did you get?

Anonymous said...

I got The Hunchback of Notre Dame, The Hobbit and the three books in The Lord of the Rings series. Have you read any of those?

Tonya said...

I read all of Tolkein when I was young and again when the movies came out. I've never read the Hunchback. Let me know if you like it.