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©1991 Orson Scott Card (P)2000 Audio Renaissance
"Thought-provoking, insightful, and powerfully written." (School Library Journal)
"As a storyteller, Card excels in portraying the quiet drama of wars fought not on battlefields but in the hearts and minds of his characters." (Library Journal)
After listening to Ender's Game, which I rated as my all time favorite, and then, "The Speaker for the Dead", which was "OK", but disappointing in comparison, I decided I'd give the trilogy a chance and listen to Xenocide.
Card devotes about 10 times as much ink as he should have to this story. The book devotes 90% of its substance to social psychology instead of a story. It becomes absolutely painful and I found myself hoping it would end soon and put me out of my misery. The book should have been a short novella instead.
The characters are annoying at best, and poorly developed. You find yourself not caring about any of them, except Ender of course.
The female readers are atrocious. The same whiney melodramatic voice reads Val, which is only just tolerable as it was in the first two, but now you have the most annoying voice in the history of readings with the "Hive Queen Voice". I would have rather listened to a thousand fingernails run across a chalkboard than listen to one more word from this readers mouth... unbelievable that they didn't change this after hearing the horrible performance in post production.
Xenocide is perhaps the most overtly philosophical of the Ender Wiggin series so far. But the philosophy in the book serves a purpose to move the story forward and develop characters more.
In addition to making you think, it also makes you feel. Xenocide is told with the same passion as Ender's Game and Speaker for the Dead, and it is filled with just as much emotion and understanding. Yet it is also very much its own new and wonderful story, and not at all just a revisit to the same old themes of the first two books.
Note, however, that, as the author himself mentions in a short commentary at the end, this book is actually the first of a two part series (the next book is "Children of the Mind"). The ending of this book ties up some threads of the story, but not all of them. If you think of it as a stand-alone book, you may be disappointed. But if you think of it as the first in a two-part novel, then you'll likely be dying to get your hands on the next part of the story when you finish.
I enjoyed Ender's Game and Speaker for the Dead, but had to stop listening to this 2 hours in. It's bad, the narration is awful, the story is boring and more drawn out than it needs to be. Painful to listen to, there's no continuity between characters at this point, there's too many characters to even keep track of, and the narration is borderline ludicrous.
I agree that this isn't one of the strongest of the Ender series. Card has written that the final installment of his original series got too long and so was split into two books - Xenocide and Children of the Mind. So, the story arc isn't completed in Xenocide.
What it really comes down to, though, is that these are my comfort books. I can pick up any of the Ender books (or Shadow books) and just start reading and immediately get caught up again.
But, and this is a HUGE but, I find the narration on this and Children of the Mind so horrible at times that I get pulled out of the story. I was just listening last night and had to have my husband listen to my iPod to hear how horrible it was.
I am amazed that only a few other reviewers had problems with the "Chinese" accents of the narrators. I think they are so inauthentic that they just seem comical and degrading. It seems like the narration direction would have preferred to have the Chinese characters speaking pidgin English. Since Card didn't write the dialogue that way, the best they can do is use the "accents." Another reviewer liked the accents in that they helped distinguish different characters and sections of the book. I guess I can appreciate that, but the narration never tried to fake a Portuguese accent (unless the characters were actually speaking Portuguese).
I also found the pequenino and hive queen voices to be distracting, but not as jarring and offensive as the Chinese characters. I guess I was willing to give creative license to those characters.
I'm so disappointed, because the narration has taken these books out of my rotation.
Other listeners should be aware that this same production team does the Shadow books and can get some of the same fake accents going with Han Tzu and Virlomi. Just a warning.
After enjoying Ender's Game and Speaker for the Dead, I thought this story was overrated and didn't measure up to its predecessors.
In his afterword, Card mentions that his two concerns about the book are that it is heavily philosphical ("talky") and that it cuts out in the middle of the story arc, but neither of these were really an issue to me. I've read plenty of series that ended leaving the reader hanging and dependent on a following book, and I've read books that were very philosophically idea-heavy. The problem with Xenocide is not that it's too full of ideas that it spends a lot of time considering, it's that it's actually pretty thin on ideas, but it recycles those few in variations and belabors them to an exasperating degree. It is mostly populated by characters who are emotionally static and spend far too much time repeating themselves at each other, and it doesn't take long before that starts becoming tedious. Coming on the heels of Speaker for the Dead (a superior and deeply moving story in which nearly every character realizes significant emotional changes) as this book does, it feels dull and lifeless and long.
On top of that, I thought that one of the major plot developments toward the end of the book that leads into the next one was nothing short of silly and contrived. I don't want to spoil any secrets for people who haven't read it yet, but I think those that have read it will probably know which one I'm talking about.
I am currently torn between what is at this point an admittedly not-huge curiosity of what happens to resolve the story and a real reluctance to take the chance of having to sit through what may turn out to be a similarly tiresome exercise to get there, particularly because I know that it's going to heavily revolve around the aforementioned plot device from this book.
I listen to books while doing housework. The more interesting the book, the more housework gets done!
Ender's Game had me riveted. I got so much housework done because I couldn't bear to leave the book (and I listen to books while doing housework.)
With Xenocide, however, the house is a mess. The ironing is piling up. I have to leave the story for long periods just to recover. I'm nearly at the end of the second part download, and the thought of a third just fills me with dread.
Which is a pity. What I've read so far is well written, and the narration is good. But I dislike so many of the characters, the odds against the planet are just too overwhelming. I know there's another book so I assume it all turns out well. I just don't want to hang around to find out.
After reading Ender's Game and the Speaker for the Dead, I was really looking forward to reading this book. Xenocide was a huge disappointment on several levels -- one was the sound recording which introduced each chapter with the gargling voice of an insect or the screeching of a Chinese character. After sticking with the audiobook in spite of this, I found two separate and somewhat disjointed stories and characters whose development in the other two books was not followed through in this one.
While "Ender's game" was excellent reading and "Speakr for the Dead" was still fairly good one Xenoside falls apart quickly. This book makes it hands down to top 10 of most boring books I have ever read/listened. I think I am now scared away from Orson Scott Card for good. Stick to first 2 books and unless you find something charming of his style don't bother with rest of it.
Everyone who wrote that this book is long-winded and not nearly as good as Ender's Game, they weren't lying. It's not worth the read. I loved Ender's Game, liked Speaker for the Dead and, for the most part, didn't link Xenocide. My advice, go out on a high note and stop at Ender's Game (though I haven't read any of the Shadow series)
Please....For your own sake stop at Speaker for the Dead...I loved Ender's Game and Speaker for the Dead, but this one just dragged on...All I wanted to do was finish the series, but this will be the last one I listen to...The story line is entertaining, but just okay...It's just not at the same caliber as the first two novels...
"The series just keeps getting better!"
I love the Ender series. The books are very different in story and tone, but they still fit together very well and are always of excellent quality!
The truth of the previous books, revelation, considered and explained at length. To some it might be tiresome and laboured...but to those who have truly 'lived' the intricate weave of what has gone before...This can only be a be a delightful enlightenment,
"A worthy listen"
This is the third in the "Ender" series, coming after Ender's Game and Speaker For The Dead. This outing is a bit slower and a lot wordier than its predecessors, taking the time to discuss various philosophical ideas and to expand on the relationships of the many diverse characters. Orson Scott Card's skill at writing and depth of thought allows him to pull off the philosophical concepts that are woven into the fabric of the storyline convincingly and there is no sense of contrivance to the events that flow out of it. All the characters are excellently developed, and Ender is seen to be more human, faltering in his relationship with his wife (mad as a box of frogs) and suffering from self-doubt and the physical return of some of his childhood ghosts. This book got too long to be published as one and was split to accommodate the finale, Children of the Mind that I am looking forward to greatly. The same team of narrators as in the previous books perform to their usual excellent, crisp standards.
"Disappointing and Long Winded"
After listening to and thoroughly enjoying the first 2 Ender Books (Game and Speaker for the Dead) I had high expectations. Unfortunately this book did not meet it. It meandered along and never really hit any high points except in the very last section. Card never really comes to the point and his dialogue is simply too long winded. Even Card himself with the short epilogue literally apologises and builds up the next book! But...hopefully this is just a glitch and to show my willing commitment I've already selected Children of the mind as my Next Listen!
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