Speaker for the Dead

I seem to be doing two posts a day recently.  This is in part because I’ve been reading several shorter books recently (the Hitchhiker books are all fairly short) as well as posting random other thoughts.  Anyway, here’s my review for Orson Scott Card’s Speaker for the Dead.

Book Stats

382 pages

Science Fiction

Sequel to Ender’s Game (which I don’t have a review for on my blog, I read it before I started my blog, it’s a fantastic book)

Characters

The main character in this book is Andrew (Ender) Wiggin who was the main character in Ender’s Game.  In the 3,000 years since the end of the first book, Ender has traveled throughout the universe acting as a Speaker for the Dead.  As a Speaker, Ender goes to different planets to learn and speak the truth about those who have died.  He speaks without bias, and tells both the good and bad things that they have done in their lives.  The book also deals with several inhabitants of Lusitania, although Ender is the central figure in the story.  Of note among the other characters are Pipo, Libo, and Novinha, who are all scientists on Lusitania.  All of the characters were interesting, even if at the beginning it was difficult to tell Novinha’s children apart.

Setting

Most of the book takes place on Lusitania, a planet that was found to be habitable by humans.  The planet is unusual as there is almost no genetic variability on the planet, there are very few species that exist on the planet.  However, one of these races, the pequeninos or piggies.  The piggies are an intelligent species and a large portion of the book is spent dealing with the piggies.  The worldbuilding in this book is brilliant, the piggies are amazingly unique as far as aliens go in books and Card does a wonderful job showing how they are different compared to humans.

Plot

As the humans had previously destroyed the only other intelligent race they met (the buggers from Ender’s Game), they decided that the piggies must be left alone as much as possible.  Ultimately, when one of the humans is killed, they call for a Speaker for the Dead to commemorate his life.  Part of the genius of this book is that there are several different plots told at the same time.  There is Ender’s storyline and his growth as a person, the story of the humans learning about the piggies, the history of the piggies, as well as how the galactic congress deals with the piggies as they deal with the humans.  All of the plots are done very well, and they interweave very well throughout the book.

Enjoyment

Between the brilliance of Ender’s character, the excellent worldbuilding (especially when dealing with the piggies), and the multiple storylines told at the same time, this book is genius on several levels.  The book does a wonderful job of reversing many of the conflicts from Ender’s Game.  Ender’s game dealt with the possible extinction of the human race, this book is a much smaller scale for most of the story.  Ender’s arc is flipped from the first book as well, in the first book he was separated from everyone, this book is about him coming back into society effectively.  All of the parts of the story are very well done.  My only complaint about the book (and this is what is keeping it from getting a 10) is that from time to time the characters revert to speaking in portuguese.  This irritated me as I don’t think it worked within the story.  I think it was mostly there because Card knows some portuguese and decided to put it in a book that he wrote.

Overall Grade

The portuguese parts of the book were the only thing that kept it from being a 10.  This book is brilliant and Card is a wonderful author.

9/10

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2 Comments

  1. hannahrose42

     /  November 11, 2011

    I’ll admit I was afraid when I saw you had reviewed this. I was ecstatic when I saw you gave it a 9/10, though! Most people I come across think this is on the lower end of the books in this series. I personally enjoyed it quite a bit. I suppose I should say I’ve yet to read any other book in the Ender’s series other than Ender’s Game itself… Still, I loved the piggies and their culture and really enjoyed this book.

    Reply
    • I can understand why some people are down on this book. It’s a complete change from Ender’s Game, it completely flips every aspect of the storyline from Ender’s Game. Ender’s Game is one of the best YA SciFi books ever written, it’s almost unfair to compare other books – even in the same series – to a book that you could easily argue is one of the greatest books ever written.

      Reply

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