Ender’s Saga #4 (Children of the Mind)

by Orson Scott Card

3/10

Wraps up the series neatly enough . . . until you stop to think about how ridiculous the entire premise is or how annoying it is that everything seems to fit so nicely together.

I suppose I have to recant the part of my Xenocide review where I called the “birth” of Peter and Young Val “unnecessary.”  That was obviously a crucial episode for what Card had in store for the series conclusion.  But I still won’t take back the opinion that it’s annoying.

Positives:  After starting slowly, the plot did pick up around halfway through and was sufficiently interesting to keep me turning pages; there was a scene where the mothertrees started to fruit which was beautiful. . . by far the most emotional part of the book for me; there was much creativity in the solution to the Jane problem.

Negatives:  Overall, the book was simply annoying.  We were subjected again to far too many pages of the completely useless and unbelievable Quara, the inner turmoil of Miro (this time as he’s deciding between Val and Jane), the completely incredible romance between Peter and Wang-Mu, tedious scenes between Ender and the second-least sympathetic character in the series Novinha (Card, if you’re going to make her this unlikeable, you can’t continue to subject the reader to her), and “recaps” from the previous books that went on for long paragraphs and I ended up just skipping.  The chapter intros by Qiang-Jao brought nothing, and if anything had only the effect of reminding me of one of the most annoying characters from the previous book.

The entire concept of Peter and Young Val was inconsistent.  They either have free will and are their own people (in which case Ender is like a God, to have enough soul to split in two), or they’re not.  If the former, they wouldn’t need Ender anyway to continue living, and if the latter, there’s no way they would ever be able to experience self-pity.  There’s no in between.

***SPOILER***

And did it really have to end with everyone living happily ever after?  Sure Ender died, but we were clearly not meant to care for him at all by this stage in the series.  Miro gets his Jane and Peter and Wang-Mu get to be soulmates after the least romantic courtship ever.  Wang-Mu will remain one of the most underdeveloped main characters ever, with no answer as to what was motivating her to behave the way she did.

Overall, this and Xenocide could have been greatly condensed into one 500-600 page novel and been a masterpiece.

Original Review

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