Author: Orson Scott Card // First published: 1998 // Genre: Science Fiction
This edition: 469 pages, published in December 2000 by Tor Books // Get it @TheBookDepository
Read in August 2015
Synopsis (from Goodreads)
Andrew “Ender” Wiggin was not the only child in the Battle School; he was just the best of the best. In this new book, Card tells the story of another of those precocious generals, the one they called Bean–the one who became Ender’s right hand, part of his team, in the final battle against the Buggers.
Bean’s past was a battle just to survive. He was a tiny child with a mind leagues beyond anyone else’s. Bean’s desperate struggle to live, and his success, brought him to the attention of the Battle School’s recruiters, those people scouring the planet for leaders, tacticians, and generals to save Earth from the threat of alien invasion. Bean was sent into orbit, to the Battle School. And there he met Ender…
What I expected from this
For years now I’ve had in the back of my head the idea of writing a story about a secondary character. You know… The sidekick, the best friend of the hero, or just the kid who just happens to live in the same world as the “hero”. Like… Harry Potter from the point of view of Neville Longbottom if you will, or from a random Hufflepuff student’s point of view.
Now when I say “the idea of writing a story about…”, I don’t mean me. I don’t write. I have no talent and no imagination. But that’s not the point.
What was I saying? Right. Background character POV. So basically, when I hear about Ender’s Shadow, how it was Ender’s Game told from the POV of Bean, one of Ender’s lieutenant, I was excited. Could it be the type of book and story telling I was looking for?
No it was not. Yes, the book is told from the POV of Bean, but in this, Bean becomes the hero; he is the dormant asset of the fleet, working with the teachers to make Ender shine, because he is the “chosen one”, but Bean is equally intelligent, maybe even more, but he was not chosen by the “big people” to be the one to have the weight of the world resting on his shoulders. So basically, a majority of what Ender is able to accomplish is thanks to Bean working in the shadows (Ender’s shadow… get it?).
My thoughts on the book
So it’s pretty clear that the way the story was constructed around Bean was not what I expected from the book. That being said, I have to admit that I thoroughly enjoyed my time reading it. I loved getting back into Battle School, and the story of Bean was made very interesting (although maybe a bit too similar to Ender’s).
We do get a broader perspective on Battle School, how it works, what it feels like to live in it, etc. If you liked Ender’s Game‘s universe, then you’ll be thrilled to get more of it with this book.
What I didn’t like so much was the presence of religion. Thankfully, only one main character was really into it, but the moment you introduce religious motives and thoughts, I’m out. What saved it was that instead of being a one-sided “religion is good and God is all” type of discourse, the religious aspect was sometimes made fun of; and that I’m on board with. This sounded bad. What I mean is: there were two sides, the very religious person who thinks everything she does is to serve God, and the more pragmatic army man who debunks the religious lingo to make things more rooted into the reality of the situation.
So, no, the book didn’t match with what I was expecting of it, but once I put that aside, it didn’t prevent me from really enjoying the book and the story, so this is a 4/5 stars for me.
I understand that Patrick Ness just released (or will very soon) his new book, about just this: what “normal” people experience when they are witnesses to the hero’s accomplishments; or at least that what I think The Rest of Us Just Live Here is about. I may have to check this one out.