"Ender's Game" - like HP, but good.
Submitted by murph on 3 September 2007 - 10:45am. books
Yesterday, I read Shadow of the Giant, the current-last book in Orson Scott Card's Ender's Game series.
As I've mentioned before, I harbor a general dislike for Harry Potter, stemming from when I worked in a used bookstore with an excellent science fiction / fantasy selection, but found that parents couldn't think of buying anything but HP for their adolescent kids, neglecting a huge corpus of darn good books. Whenever such shoppers could be bothered to listen for two minutes, rather than turning and walking out the door as soon as they found that we didn't have a hundred copies of Rawlings' latest, I tried to make sure they ended up with a copy of Ender's Game.
The parallels are obvious - an exceptional child is taken to an elite academy in order to develop his skills in hopes of, eventually, defending the world from evil. Ender's Game, however, involves no magic, is highly ambivalent about the absoluteness of "evil", and - to judge from the shallowness of HP that its adult readers typically mention whenever they admit to enjoying the series - has a much more complex view of childhood and maturity.
Post-Ender's Game, the Speaker for the Dead branch of the series, following Ender through 3000 years of lightspeed travel, space colonization, and musings on the meaning of humanity, is probably further from the HP experience than the Ender's Shadow branch, which involves his teen and twenty-something classmates, back on Earth, in a more conventional timeline, saving the world while growing and maturing in directions that are probably easier to identify with. (Wow, I can write quite the sentence, can't I?) To some extent, the Shadow branch can be dismissed as the more cheesy, war-gamey branch, but it has its value and is probably the much easier read.
So, should you be suffering from a post-Potter uncertainty as to what to read next, or know somebody whose kids are about to start into the series for the tenth time, do yourself a favor and try Ender instead.