Thoughts on Speaker for the Dead

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So before I do a post on Xenocide, which I am currently reading, I wanted to do a quick list of my thoughts on Speaker for the Dead:

(As always, spoilers ahead!)

First things first, much better than Ender in Exile. So much better. I loved the characters, the set up, the plot. Sure, it’s not the prequel (sequels often have a bad rep) but it was much better than I was expecting after reading Ender in Exile.

Novinha’s kids are awesome. My favourite is Olhado, followed quickly by Ela, since I can easily relate to her in some parts. Quara is funny too. I couldn’t help but smile when she finds out Marcao isn’t her father and says, “Is the Speaker our father now?” They each have their own personality, they argue a lot, but always prove that blood is thicker than water.  

Novinha herself is a decent character. In many ways, she’s the female version of Ender…except for the fact she isn’t responsible for the death she feels guilt for. She is, however, very self-deprecating, and definitely could have been a better mother to her kids.

Ender as an adult. When I pictured an Ender sequel, I didn’t know what to expect…but I definitely didn’t expect Ender to be a 35. The funny thing is, I had little to worry about, since his personality has changed little, though his adept diplomacy is somewhat astonishing. I was especially surprised when he actually left Valentine to go to Lusitania.

Science and faith. I didn’t expect Ender’s Game to be followed up by a story involving religion. But then again, how else are you going to inject issues of morality and controversy? And, naturally, Card chose one of the most controversial: Roman Catholicism.

The life cycle of the pequeninos is genius. I don’t know how Pipo understood the life cycle right away, but it is so smart. Card really builds up the mystery around this, never fully explaining Novinha’s simulation and bringing Ela’s observations into the picture before revealing the truth.

Miro never gets a break. I love and hate dramatic irony, and it was seriously put to use in Miro’s case. Not ten pages after Ender reveals that Libo is the actual father of Novinha’s children does Card also mention that Novinha’s son Miro is in love with Libo’s daughter, Ouanda, and they want to get married.

And not only that, after he finds out the love of his life is now unavailable to him, he stupidly climbs the electrified fence, subjecting himself to brain damage and partial paralysis. Granted, that was his fault since he decided to climb it in the first place.

Jane. An interesting addition to the cast, especially considering that she’s a computer based life form. Card doesn’t really explain how she came into being, simply that she exists and that her existence is only known by Ender. Their relationship is….strange to say the least. Jane has some of the snarkiest quotes–and thats saying something since almost all of Card’s characters are snarky. But what makes her irritating is the fact that she had no tact. And its hard to believe she’s a living thing when she acts so robotically: no emotion, no wants other than the want to live, and no belief system.

Who exactly did Ender marry? There isn’t much support for Novinha and Ender’s relationship, though I can see why they would be drawn to one another. Both know what it feels like to be alone, to hate oneself for what one’s done, and to blame oneself for most of their lives. But when Ender randomly strokes her face when they first meet is really stretching it. I almost feel like Ender married the kids instead, since they all took a liking to him much faster than their mother. In fact, it almost makes more sense to me that Ender would go into a ship for a few years and wait for Ela to catch up, and then marry her instead of her mother. The two seem to get along much better than he and Novinha ever did.

Overall, I really did like this book, despite its pseudo-cliffhanger. I think it’s a good place for Ender to end up, with a happy ending that still allows for possibility. I eagerly picked up Xenocide, and will post something about it right after this!

“Once you understand what people really want, you can’t hate them anymore. You can fear them, but you can’t hate them, because you can always find the same desires in your own heart.”
― (Ender) Orson Scott Card, Speaker for the Dead

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