I first tried Ender's Game and liked it. I really got hooked with Speaker for the Dead. Xenocide presented some interesting philosophical issues.
And then there's Children for the Mind.
Children for the Mind is a direct sequel to Xenocide. Unfortunately, it takes some of the weaker parts of Xenocide and runs with them. This book focuses on the newly created Val and Peter Wiggin. Even in Xenocide, Ender's creation of his siblings out of thin air while traveling faster than light always seemed a bit farfetched. Card veers far away from anything resembling scientific plausibility.
In resurrecting the pair, I think Card was trying to explore religious issues surrounding the soul, but his handling of the theme was unusually clumsy. The characters are actually described as reliant upon Ender's willpower, at risk of dying if he gets bored. Val and Peter think they're really just facets of Ender - except when they're not. I think some of the philosophical issues could have been better explored through the more conventional sci-fi technique of cloning.
The dialogue and characterization in Children for the Mind are at times a chore to read, sometimes even atrocious. The way Wangmu and Peter impress to elderly philosophers with rhetorical nonsense made my eyes roll. These two kids go looking for "the center of power" in the human government. The new Val is even whinier than the original and much of what she says doesn't even make sense.
I do like Card's characterization of the elder Ender. He comes across as a real person, perhaps a more sympathetic and believable character than Ender's ever been. His constant fatigue with life comes across powerfully. But he's an exception rather than the rule in this book. And the fact that most of his scenes are opposite his grating wife, Novinha, who has fled to a convent, doesn't help.
Overall, 2.5 stars. Feel free to stop reading the series at Xenocide.
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About the reviewer
Dominic J Nardi (FreeDom4)
I am a recent law school grad with an interest in Southeast Asia legal issues. Unfortunately for my checkbook, ever since high school I have been addicted to good books. I have eclectic tastes, although … more
Children of the Mind, fourth in the Ender series, is the conclusion of the story begun in the third book,Xenocide. The author unravels Ender's life and reweaves the threads into unexpected new patterns, including an apparent reincarnation of his threatening older brother, Peter, not to mention another "sister" Valentine. Multiple storylines entwine, as the threat of the Lusitania-bound fleet looms ever nearer. The self-aware computer, Jane, who has always been more than she seemed, faces death at human hands even as she approaches godhood. At the same time, the characters hurry to investigate the origins of the descolada virus before they lose their ability to travel instantaneously between the stars. There is plenty of action and romance to season the text's analyses of Japanese culture and the flux and ebb of civilizations. But does the author really mean to imply that Ender's wife literally bores him to death?--Brooks Peck--This text refers to theMass Market Paperbackedition.