First, here's some bonus info. You can play this book at 1.5 speed and it sounds almost the same as regular speed.
Ender's Game is a famous book, and rightfully so. But I feel that this is a much better book in many ways. The writing is tighter. The universe is already fleshed out, so the focus lays more on character development. I was very pleased with it and intend to read the rest of the series. Bean is a more street-smart version of Ender. I think I appreciate that a little more.
Bean was named by Poke, a girl barely surviving as a street urchin in charge of younger children. The size of a two year old but actually four, and starving, Bean gives Poke a way to live better, and in turn becomes a part of that group. The benefit is that he’s eating better than he has since he lived in the clean place, but the drawback is that one of the pivotal keys to their dietary improvement is the evil Achilles who Bean knows wants to kill both him and Poke. But the change in the lives of the children on the street, and not just Achilles’ group now (Poke is no longer in charge), thanks to Bean’s savvy, garners the attention of adults, including Sister Carlotta who works for others and is on the lookout for a brilliant child who may end up going to Battle School where Ender Wiggins, whom we know from Ender’s Game, a parallel novel written first, is. Anyone who has read the first book or the back of this knows that Bean ends up there, but the question is how and when and what the mysteries are surrounding his life on the streets at such a young age, how he got there and why.
Just as with Ender’s Game, I started first with the audio recording, which is very well done, but since I am listening to it with my son, I read ahead in the book and finished it. The book isn’t better than Ender’s Game in some ways, but it is in others, and again this is one time where there are certain scenes where the different voices make it easier to keep track of who is who. My son is at the edge of his seat when we listen, but so far he’s heard only the first two disks, and still don’t know Bean’s origins, how he makes it to flight school, whether or not Achilles manages to kill Poke, whether or not Bean is truly an orphan or even if Bean is the same as any other living child. But I do, and if you want to know, you’ll have to listen to this or read this yourself, because I’m not going to make it easy for you by giving you any spoilers. If you have read Ender’s Game but not this book, I highly recommend reading this because it will shed more light on the situation and while it is a parallel novel, it is not a rehash of what you’ve read before.
It has been a while since I first listened to Ender's Game. I really enjoyed it and was worried that this book might taint that a bit so I avoided it for a while. After listening to Ender's Shadow though, I realize how silly that was. This truly does complement Ender's game and gives you further insight into one if its more interesting characters... Bean. I enjoyed the different point of view of events I thought I knew so well. I would still recommend reading Ender's Game first as I think this book would be better appreciated if you were already familiar with the main story.
Ender's Shadow was an intriguing novel which touched on many qualities of what made a book great. Character being the most important, and Bean's mind was an interesting thing to reflect on.
Per the author's end note: "The best production was the one jus heard". Too bad the movie didn't capture as much of this book as he thought it would at the time of recording. It's a gem.
Loved Ender's Game, but Ender's Shadow makes the story ten times fuller. You never know Bean's full contribution to the survival of humanity until you read/hear this book. Acting was top notch and the pacing was excellent.