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Friday, April 4, 2008

Speaker For The Dead

Author: Orson Scott Card
Reason for Reading: YA Reading Challenge, Margaret A. Edwards Reading Challenge
Rating: 5/5

I read Ender's Game not too long ago, and I found it to be an enjoyable book. But when I put down Speaker for the Dead, I was completely in awe. Speaker for the Dead is more than a sequel, it is a sci-fi masterpiece in its own right.

Speaker for the Dead is set 3000 years after the events of Ender's Game. A new sentient species has been discovered on the planet Lusitania, and this time humanity, it seems, has learned its lessons from before. 3000 years ago, Ender Wiggins was used as an unwitting tool to wipe out the Buggers, a race of hive-mind aliens. This time, the Piggies (as the new species are called) are to be treated with respect and interfered with as little as possible. The scientists studying the Piggies are under strict restrictions not to tamper with their cultural development, but the Piggies are so foreign, so different. But when one of the scientists is murdered, there is one person qualified to discover the truth and prevent another Xenocide.

Thanks to the relativistic effects of space travel, Ender Wiggins is still alive. Although he was the originator of the destruction of the Buggers, after he discovered that the Buggers had not intended to harm humans, he wrote the true story of the Buggers and became the Speaker for the Dead. He's been wandering the galaxy for millennium, waiting for the opportunity to amend for the destruction of the Buggers. When he sets off for Lusitania, he sees it as his chance at last to make up for old mistakes. By the time he arrives, however, the Piggies have killed another scientist and the possibility of Piggie and human cultural understanding seems remote.

There aren't many science fiction novels where the writer manages to tackle both interesting philosophical issues and to write satisfying characters all at the same time. This book has a number of well-written, fascinating characters that grow and develop during the course of this book. The heart of this book is philosophical, though, asking what it means to be human. Any book that tries to take on a topic like that is almost certain to bite off more than it can chew, but somehow this book manages to live up to its premise. I can't recommend this one highly enough.

5 comments:

Chris said...

:D As I've mentioned many times before, I think this will always be my favorite book. It's such a special book and it started me on my road to discover all of Orson Scott Card's wonderful work. I've read nearly everything he's written and that same human touch is present in all of his books, though never quite as perfectly as in Speaker for the Dead. I don't think I've ever read a book that was written as well as this one. I remember just being in complete awe after finishing it and wanting to actually be submerged in the world of the book. Xenocide and Children of the Mind are really good as well if you enjoyed the philosophical aspects of the book! So glad you enjoyed it!!

Andi said...

I loved Ender's Game, and I had this one on my stacks for a long while, but I never seemed to be in the mood for it, and I think I finally gave it away. Now I'm sorry I did! I'm sure my library has it, and you've prompted me to put it back on "the list."

Nymeth said...

I'll be reading Ender's Game next week for the Margaret A. Edwards challenge, and I have the feeling I'll be ordering this one too before long. Thanks for the fabulous review.

Kim L said...

chris-I plan to read the other Ender books for sure! I doubt any of them can top this one, but I'm looking forward to reading them. Thanks for the recommendations.

andi-if you liked Ender's Game you'll love this one. I look forward to reading your review!

nymeth-good, I'm glad you are reading Ender's Game! I hope you will like it.

Debi said...

Everyone keeps saying that this one is even better than Ender's Game. But Ender's Game was such an intense experience for me that I'm afraid Speaker won't live up to it. Silly, I know. Anyway, I'm sure to find out soon, as my daughter just got Speaker for the Dead this past weekend.