Book Review – Xenocide

xenocideXenocide

Author: Orson Scott Card

Series: The Ender Saga #3

Genre: Science Fiction

Published 1991

Review Copy: Paperback bought new

Overall Rating: 3 out of 5

Goodreads Description

The war for survival of the planet Lusitania will be fought in the hearts of a child named Gloriously Bright.

On Lusitania, Ender found a world where humans and pequininos and the Hive Queen could all live together; where three very different intelligent species could find common ground at last. Or so he thought.

Lusitania also harbors the descolada, a virus that kills all humans it infects, but which the pequininos require in order to become adults. The Starways Congress so fears the effects of the descolada, should it escape from Lusitania, that they have ordered the destruction of the entire planet, and all who live there. The Fleet is on its way, and a second xenocide seems inevitable.

Review

Xenocide is the third book in the Ender Saga series by Orson Scott Card.  I enjoyed the first two books, but how is this third one?  Well, I had a completely different impression.

We return to Lusitania and join Ender with the colony, the pequeninos and the Hive Queen once again, but they are also joined by Valentine.  This takes place many years after Speaker for the Dead, so all the kids are grown up, except Milo.  Milo had gone out to meet Valentine, so he hasn’t aged a bit.  Ender has married Novinha, as well.  Ender has changed.  He seems so much less of the Ender we got to know before, and seems less effective.  Valentine is much the same, and seems stronger than Ender now.  Milo, with his severe injuries, is often very dark and broody.  Novinha is cold and distant.  The kids are grown up, with Grego still an asshole, Ela extremely strongminded about her job and trying to solve the descolada problem, Quara is extremely stubborn, Quim has become a priest, and Olhado has become the most stable of them all.  Jane is back, and now her life is on the line.

On the world of Path, a girl, Han Qing-jao, one of the godspoken, and her father, Han Fei-tzu, are two of the most brilliant minds on their world, and they have to suffer a form of OCD if they think anything against their gods.  Enter Si Wang-mu, a lower class girl, who plays a major part of this story.  The cast of characters is fairly large, and I didn’t really like many of them.  Ender just wasn’t Ender anymore.  Quara, Miro, Ela, and Grego were difficult to endure.  Qing-jao was so incredibly stupid, it was hard to believe she’s intelligent.  I really liked Wang-mu, though.

The major problem I had with this book is that there was far too much philosophising.  Honestly, who in the world would spend half of their time speaking in terms of philosophy?  It made the story drag on so slowly.  The dialogue was incredibly unnatural.  People do not speak like that.  In the first book, Ender was such an engaging character, and he continued that in the second book, but with this book, he had become boring.  He, Valentine, Miro, and Qing-jao constantly spoke philosophically, and it made it difficult to read.  The first half of the book was actually boring.  Not much happened other than talk.  No one seemed to speak like humans.  I do understand that Ender, Valentine, Miro, and Qing-jao are all brilliant people, but even the gifted speak normally.  Did I mention that I can’t stand Qing-jao?  Her intelligence was apparent, but she was so closed-minded and lacked any kind of wisdom.  She seemed to be an imbecile to me.  Wang-mu was wise beyond her years, though.  She was the best character in the entire book.

The setting was not as vividly described as before.  I just didn’t feel I was into it so strongly.  We only saw a handful of places, though.  I didn’t get the same feeling of Lusitania as before, and Path was confined to the Han home mostly.  I could fill in how I thought it looked, though.

With all sorts of pressure to find a way to defeat the descolada, I felt that the pacing of the story didn’t give me a sense of urgency.  The unnatural dialogue, far too much philosophy, and too many characters with extreme personalities made it a much more difficult book to read that I’d expected.  It’s intelligent, I’ll give it that.  But it doesn’t have feeling behind.  Thankfully, the last half of the book redeemed it somewhat.  Get past the first half, and you should be okay.  If you like philosophy, this may be the book for you.  Overall, I give this a generous 3 out of 5 stars.  That’s because of the second half.

3 thoughts on “Book Review – Xenocide”

  1. I agree that, as a purely sci-fi read, Xenocide doesn’t get the job done. However, I thought the philosophical issues made for some interesting thinking. Card gives some great insight into human nature and it’s kind of fun to think that you can wish your way through space. It’s also encouraging to think that genres other than literary fiction can touch on weightier topics than blowing up aliens or decapitating Orcs.

    1. True, but taking it as a part of a science fiction series, it is rather jarring for his style to change midway through the series. I’d read that this was originally supposed to be a standalone novel that he adapted to fit into the Ender story. Probably why it doesn’t mesh well with it.

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