Wednesday, May 25, 2011

Orson Scott Card Ender's Game Series Ender in Exile

Okay, yeah, I can't let this one go, can I?

While I'm waiting for the library to get the next book in George RR Martin's Song of Fire and Ice series for me, I'm reading some of those fill-in Ender's Series books from Orson Scott Card.

I'm disappointed.

I read A War of Gifts - it's a novella, easily read in a sitting or two. I found it not worth reading, really. As I was sitting here trying to think of what to say about it, I realized that's the problem exactly. It's forgettable.

I am coming close to being done with the 'filler' novel, Ender in Exile. This one takes place in the Ender's Game series between Ender's Game and Speaker for the Dead. Though it was written after Speaker and the following two novels in that series (more than 10 years later, I believe).

I'm disappointed.

I was looking forward to reading this because I loved Ender's Game and revered Speaker for the Dead. Since this one fell in between and filled in some of the gap, I was stoked. I shouldn't have been. It feels like this book was written by a completely different author. And while I do realize that Game and Speaker, for the most part, are very different books (they barely feel like they should be in a series together, even though they have the same main character), they were both well written. Exile, to put it bluntly, is not.

The characters are very one dimensional, the dialog is stilted and unrealistic, and the plot doesn't have a tenth of the brilliance Card showed in Speaker. It's not a good sign that, while I'm reading dialog, I think of it as 'dialog that an author wrote' not 'Oh! The information Ender is giving us' or 'Wow, she really put her in her place!'.  I know some of these characters are super intelligent teens, but do they really have to sound so formal? So robotic? They didn't during Battle School in Ender's Game. It takes me right out of the world Card has created when, in my mind, I'm rewriting his sentences, trying to get better flow and more believability.

And characterization. Ack!! I'm sorry, but really, I have to think Card has either become so enamored or so bored with Ender that he doesn't realistically judge his own character.

Rule 1 of characterization: Every character has flaws.

I think Card has forgotten that. Ender does nothing wrong. Nothing. Or if it appears he might be wrong, we're proven later that he wasn't. Grrrrr. Every idea and plan that Ender thinks of/puts into motion works perfectly. He's smart as a whip, mature (at 15? 16? Heck, I can't even rile myself up to care), and humble.

Card has boys, he has to know what teenagers are like. This ain't it.

There's no emotional depth to the characters. Even when we get a peek into their thought processes, those thoughts are bland and rational. Where's the teenage angst? Where's the anger, the joy, the jealousy? It's all reasoned right away.

So, yeah, I'm disappointed.

Of course, I'll read the last two short story collections of Ender's Verse, because, dammit, I'm no quitter.

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