Book #117 – Speaker for the Dead

7967I read Ender’s Game and Ender’s Shadow earlier this year, and decided to read more about the Enderverse in around… August, I think. Unfortunately, there’s a complete change of tone from Ender’s Game to Speaker for the Dead, and it was not one I enjoyed.

Speaker for the Dead – Orson Scott Card

In the aftermath of his terrible war, Ender Wiggin disappeared, and a powerful voice arose: the Speaker for the Dead, who told of the true story of the Bugger War.
Now long years later, a second alien race has been discovered, but again the aliens’ ways are strange and frightening…again, humans die. And it is only the Speaker for the Dead, who is also Ender Wiggin the Xenocide, who has the courage to confront the mystery…and the truth.

I don’t know what it was about this book which really disagreed with me. It’s so different to Ender’s Game, even though it’s still about Ender, sort of. The world has moved on, it’s many years after the Xenocide of Ender’s Game – I can accept all of this.
What really jarred, for me, was that the tone, the setting, the structure, the themes of the book, were all totally different to what had preceded it. Where Ender’s Game was a space dystopia, Speaker for the Dead is straight science fiction. It reads like it’s written for an older audience, and it tackles more mature themes, of identity, personhood, all kinds of things – it just wasn’t what I was expecting.

I found Speaker for the Dead, to be quite honest, dull. I really struggled to read it – from checking my GoodReads account, it took me a full month – most books take somewhere between two days and a week. I laid Speaker for the Dead to one side several times in favour of other books, and was reluctant to pick it up most of the time.
I find it hard to put into words exactly what it was I disliked about Speaker for the Dead. On its own, I probably wouldn’t have had such an issue with it, but coming as a sequel to Ender’s Game, the complete change in tone and themes was jarring.
I’ve heard the Bean quartet is thematically more similar to Ender’s Game and Ender’s Shadow than the other Ender books, so perhaps, if I do decide to read more Scott Card, I’ll try Bean instead of Ender.
I was thoroughly unimpressed with Speaker for the Dead.

Two Stars
**

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