“Ender’s Shadow” is a parallel novel to “Ender’s Game”. “Ender’s Game” is the first book in the Ender’s series. “Ender’s Shadow” is the first book in the Bean’s series. Both books are written from the perspective of a Battle School student and there is some overlap. There are are some “discrepancies” too, but as the author says these are features not bugs. Meaning that the main characters view events differently, so it is to be expected that their stories will not match completely.
The story is about Bean, a small child, who grows up on the mean streets of Rotterdam (also known as the “main seaport of Hell”. Schiphol, of course being the “airport of Hell”). I have been to Rotterdam, but I can’t remember seeing hungry kids dying on the streets. Anyway Bean is one of those kids, fighting and begging for food. He learns to survive on the streets. Life is tough, but things get better after he joins a gang. Immediately he starts making a difference, because Bean is an amazing genius. The reasons for his genius become clear later in the book. It doesn’t take long for his skills to be discovered and he ends up in Battle School. He learns there about Ender Wiggin. And Ender becomes somewhat of an obsession for Bean. On the one hand Bean knows that he is much smarter than Ender. On the other hand Ender is older and a better commander.
It would be unfair to compare “Ender’s Shadow” to “Ender’s Game”. Clearly this book is more of a companion to “Ender’s Game” than real competition. However, we can compare Bean’s series to the Ender’s series. Some differences are quite obvious:
- All the action in Bean’s series takes place on Earth within a relatively short time span. Ender’s series, however, spans thousands of years, due to the relativistic effect of space travel.
- Ender’s series is overall slower paced, making it less suitable for younger readers.
“Ender’s Shadow” is a perfect book for teens. Just like in “Ender’s Game” there are violent episodes with murders, but the violence is not in my opinion as hardcore as Ender’s fights in “Ender’s Game”. Personally, I found it funny how Rotterdam is portrayed. I guess it’s fine as long as you don’t make fun of their football team. The author clearly has a connection to the Netherlands, since Dink another Battle School student, is from the Netherlands too.