Ender’s Shadow is the companion book to Ender’s Game. It follows the story of a minor character in Ender’s Game, named Bean. Instead of starting straight at Battle School, we are introduced to Bean as a four year old street kid in Rotterdam. He’s starving to death, and using a final plan to get into a “crew”- a group of street kids who stay together and help each other find food and protection. His plan works, choosing the crew lead by a girl named Poke, but not without consequences. A bully named Achilles, who joined the crew from Bean’s plan, would not forget Bean’s open desire to kill him, when he realized that Achilles was not the right bully for the plan.
Eventually, the street culture changed and Bean’s brilliance was noticed by a woman named Sister Carlotta who attempts to recruit street kids for Battle School. Sister Carlotta becomes a prominent figure in the Shadow series, first by protecting Bean when Poke was killed by Achilles and then wanted to kill him, and second, by trying to discover Bean’s heritage. A couple of years later, Bean was old enough to attend Battle School, up in space. This is where he would learn of Ender Wiggin, the main character of "Ender’s Game."
Orson Scott Card is able to capture the mind and brilliance of Bean. We get an opportunity to get inside Bean’s brain: his guilt on not saving Poke in time, his calculated avoidance of Ender, and his discovery that it’s up to him to help Ender destroy the buggers.
Meanwhile, in Ender series fashion, we get a backstory at the beginning of each chapter with Colonel Graff, Sister Carlotta, and other Battle School characters email correspondences Through these emails, we discover that Bean is the result of a genetic experiment, where “Anton’s Key” was turned to open Bean’s mind to no limit in his brain capability. There is a downside of course, which Bean doesn’t discover until the later books.
I love the way Orson Scott Card has multiple stories going on at once, and ties them all together throughout the story. Bean is a lovable character, even though he doesn’t see himself as lovable. His brilliant mind coupled with being an underdog in Battle School makes him want to root for him as he’s a solider in Ender’s Army and taking down the Buggers. If you have never read Ender’s Shadow, you are in for a treat. It would be wise to read Ender’s Game first, to get context, but once you read Ender’s Shadow, you will never see the story of Ender’s Game in the same light again.
To purchase this book, check out Amazon.com:
Ender's Shadow (Ender, Book 5)
For other reviews of the Ender's Saga and Shadow series, check out these links:
Ender's Game (13 Aug. 2010)
Ender in Exile (23 Sept. 2010)
Speaker for the Dead (8 Apr. 2011)
Xenocide (9 Apr. 2011)
Children of the Mind (11 Apr. 2011)
Ender's Shadow (15 Apr. 2011)
Shadow of the Hegemon (19 Apr. 2011)
Shadow Puppets (25 Apr. 2011)
Shadow of the Giant (29 Apr. 2011)