Ender in Exile

by Orson Scott Card

I was reading this book two nights ago. Past bedtime, but couldn’t put it down. That likely happens a lot to any bookworm. When I did close the book, however, I felt a sense of despair and panic when I realize that I had engulfed two thirds of the book already, and there aren’t too many pages left.

This is the moment I realized how much I enjoyed the book, that it has met my personal criteria of excellency: so good you can’t stop reading, yet you want to brake yourself, so you won’t reach the end too soon, because you hate very much to depart from that world created by the author, and you dread the moment when there is no more page to turn.

Okay, I admit that Ender’s Game is an absolute favorite of mine. I agree I am a bit biased, anything OSC writes about Ender (and Bean), I will likely lap up happily; heck, if there were really Ender heading a colony, I might sign up too… I know Card is milking on the success of Ender’s Game too much, with First Encounters about his father, the whole Shadow series and what not, but I suppose my comfort is in knowing that I am not the only gullible one. As I like the young version of Ender so much more than the adult version appears in the later series, this one fits the bill perfectly. I just didn’t like the big gap of 3,000 years between the first two books, so for a fan like me, this is a wonderful addition to the series, where I get to know young Ender, and the other characters, better.

The story starts, as the author said, about the timeline of Chapter 14 of Ender’s Game. The war is won, the Earth is saved, but Ender realizes that he won’t be able to go back home as he has supposed he would. As the greatest and most feared military power, he is regarded as too dangerous. He will have to go on exile, to become governor on the first outer space human colony. His sister, Valentine, joins him. On board the ship is a captain who is convinced that he would make a much better governor than a young boy who only knows how to play video games, and a mother scheming for her daughter to marry Ender.

To enjoy Ender in Exile, you need some acquaitance with Enderverse. As it’s a direct sequel to Ender’s Game, reading that is a must. Reading Ender’s Shadow and a couple after that, would be a plus, as you gets to know Bean, Peter and Petra better. You will find loose ends tied and previous scenes played out. It just isn’t a book that you can enjoy on its own as the author didn’t spend time introducing the characters.

While I enjoyed the book, I have to admit it’s more for the characters than the plot itself. In other words it’s a book for the fans: a book enjoyed more for its relation to an undisputedly superior book, rather than for the book itself. Some of the conversational exchanges are still brilliant, but some just feel awkward or unnecessary, especially all those bickerings. The encounter towards the end seems to be over too fast; with all the built up I would expect a more substantial opponent, though in some way I know that’s what Ender needs to move on. Also several threads just seem under explored, which is a pity. So, maybe another sequel to tie this up? Afterall, there’s 3,000 years of gap to fill…

Published in: on June 30, 2009 at 6:29 pm  Leave a Comment  

Krik? Krak!

by Edwidge Danticat

The youthful face on the cover and the title had misled me to expect a light, young adult read. This book is, however, a serious and excellent collection of short stories about life in Haiti and Haitians in America, and is in fact a finalist for the National Book Award.

In Haitian tradition, a story teller says “Krik!” to alert listeners that a story is about to be told. The audience responses with “Krak!”, to let the storyteller that they are giving her their attention in anticipation of a good tale. In this book, your anticipation will not be disappointed, for Danticat is a genius in capturing the spirit of her characters and creating beautiful imagery with little words. Powerful, memorable characters, often living an impoverished and at times tragic life, that stay with you after the story ends, dispite the little time you have come to know them. The woman who longs for a baby to hug, the woman who prositutes while her son sleeps, the immigrant mother who lives with her Americanized daughter, the man who goes on a raft, the girl who finally finds her name, the little boy who recites his speech in a play.

Often an anthology may have a few good stories, padded by mediocre ones, but this collection is excellent throughout. Higly recommended and likely to earn a spot on my best ten of the year list.

Published in: on June 24, 2009 at 2:37 pm  Leave a Comment