Monday, September 28, 2009

Ender Series

I first read Ender's Game many years ago while I was still in college. I found it immensely engaging and finished it in two days. I was thrilled to discover that he had written a sequel called Speaker For the Dead. The second book is very different from the first and begins a new trilogy (not counting Ender's Game) that Card, when I started it, had not yet finished writing. Finding a free copy of Ender's Game lying in a box of books at my local library a few months ago prompted me to at last reread the first three books and finally finish the fourth. (Note: Card has since cashed in on the popularity of his creation and written a large number of additional novels. For the purposes of this review, I'm focusing on the original series.)

The first two novels are just as good as I remembered them to be. Unfortunately, the third book, Xenocide, is overwritten and often becomes whiny and more than a little annoying. By the time I hit the fourth book, Children of the Mind, I was feeling weary, and apparently so was Card. It's the least interesting of the series, and Ender, the foundation of the first three books, figuratively and literally shrivels out of existence. Even worse, Card ends up resolving many of the titanic problems the characters face with weak deus ex machina solutions that are more magical than science fiction. It's a very disappointing end to such a promising beginning.

I would still recommend Ender's Game to anyone interested in a good science fiction novel. Unfortunately, even though Speaker for the Dead is an enjoyable book, it begins what can only be described as a disappointing trilogy (I know there are four books, but Ender's Game is kind of like Tolkien's The Hobbit to The Lord of the Rings.)