Today I just finished reading Ender’s Shadow and I thought it was a very interesting read.
Spoiler Alert! Do not read the following unless you’ve already read Ender’s Shadow or if you never plan to read it:
Ender’s Shadow is about exactly that, Ender’s shadow, otherwise known as a kid named “Bean”. He starts the book off as a little boy at the age of four living in the streets of Rotterdam, trying his best to survive. Rotterdam is full of chaos… adults kicking aside children, children living off the streets in gangs, nine year old whores. “Bullies” were older kids that shoved aside smaller kids in order to eat at charity kitchens. When loner Bean joined Poke’s crew, his life was spared because they gave him food and protection. In return, he gave the crew ideas to get them more power and food. His idea was this: to recruit a bully under their themselves and use him to their advantage. It ended up successfully…or so they thought. The bully they recruited, Achilles, was a boy that never gave up grudges. Poke had humiliated him and because of that he would never let her live unpunished…so he killed her. Bean realized that it was his fault because he could have prevented Poke from going off alone with Achilles. Poke was the one trying to protect Bean…but Bean didn’t lift a finger to save Poke from Achilles.
It was already done, so there was nothing he could do. In the meantime, a nun named Sister Carlotta discovered Bean. She taught promising students in hopes of sending them to Battle School, to save Earth from the Buggers, aliens in outer space. Because of Bean’s smarts, he was sent to Battle School not much later. Here in Battle School, students were trained to work together, against each other, and they were trained to defeat the Buggers. At first Bean decided to keep isolated, but later he discovered he would need to create friendships in order to ever become a likable commander or leader of all these children. Of all the “friends” he made, he only had one true friend…Nikolai. The two created a very close bond…it was as if they were brothers.
While Bean was in Battle School, Sister Carlotta probed into his past. She found out that Bean had been raised in an “organ farm”. Rich families often had deformed babies born. Poor families would illegally sell their babies and these illegal nurseries would care for these babies…for their organs to be sold to rich families when needed. Some twenty babies in the nursery were created from fertilized eggs and genetically altered. This alteration made these babies have incredible intellect because their brains never stopped growing. However, as they kept growing their heart would not be able to support their bodies, leading them to a young death. When the nursury was on the verge of being caught, they closed and hid. Sister Carlotta found out that a man named Volescu had created these babies and implanted his genes in them. He killed these babies with injections. One baby escaped…and he was Bean. This explained his intelligence.
Later in the story, Sister Carlotta found that Volescu was lying. The babies were not copies of him. They were created from stolen eggs…eggs that belonged to his brother’s wife. The couple was having trouble conceiving so they took her eggs and freezed them. They never knew that they were stolen. In the process of finding these new truths, Sister Carlotta also found that Bean was a child of Mr. and Mrs. Delphiki…the parents of Nikolai as well.
In the meantime, Bean grew very informed of what was going on in Battle School, things the teachers did not want the students to know, through analyzing, talking to other students, and hacking into the computer system. The adults grew very aware of this and understood how very dangerous Bean was becoming. However, they decided against sending him back to Earth because he was very valuable and intelligent. The teachers decided to let Bean create an army of only launchies (new students) and transfers (kids that other armies didn’t want). You would think the army he created would be a failure, but in fact some launchies were very promising and transfers were only kicked out of their armies because the leaders were too stupid to see their talents. Bean saw this and used that to his advanges. In the end this new army, which included Bean himself, was named Dragon Army under the command of Ender Wiggin.
For a while Bean had a hard time earning the respect of Ender, but in the end he proved to be valuable. Dragon Army became undefeated against the other student armies. With each day, the teachers would give Dragon Army even more challenges and more battles relentlessly. It continued until Dragon Army was being worn out. Ender confided in Bean and let him become a toon leader. He asked Bean to created crazy maneuvers to stun the other armies and distract them. In the meantime the army continued their winnings.
One day, Bonzo Madrid, a kid with animosity towards Ender decided to “do something about him”. Bean and his army tried protecting Ender, but in the end failed. Ender and Bonzo apparently ended up in a fight in the bathroom alone. The teachers did nothing to prevent the fight, which outraged Bean. The teachers wanted to put Ender through some sort of “test”. In the end, Ender won and Bonzo lost. He lost horribly…because he died. That really shock up Ender, but the teacher’s obviously still wanted to run him through a “test” of some sort. I suppose it was an emotional and mental test since when you’re in war you can’t let these things affect you. And so Ender didn’t get a break and his army was to participate in more battles. Finally he asked Bean and his group to perform one of the stunts during a battle, because Ender was really too tired and did not want to deal with it anymore.
Not too long after, Ender was graduated to Commander school, nine or so leaders were graduated, and Dragon Army was separated and replaced those nine graduated leaders. Bean controlled a new army, Rabbit Army…and it contained a new student, Achilles. Already Achilles was trying to manipulate Bean. Bean wouldn’t stand for it. Bean wanted to avenge dear Poke’s death and prevent Achilles from hurting anyone every again. He had the help of Nikolai and a few friends from the old Dragon Army and lead Achilles into a trap. Achilles thought he had Bean in a trap of his own and he was going to kill him, however in Battle School he was not the only smart kid around. Beans gave Achilles two choices: death or confession so he would never be free again. Of course Achilles confessed. He confessed to the deaths of many people and Bean had it recorded on tape, which he sent to the teacher’s as proof.
Within a short period of time, Bean and other leaders also were transferred out of Battle School to Tactical School. Bean suspected that this meant the adults had little time left against the Buggers.
There, these children learned how to pilot and all the works. Eventually, Ender was reintroduced to these children and they worked together practicing with “stimulators”. Bean figured out that these weren’t stimulators at all. They were real. These children were commanding real ships and real people. The adults wanted them to think of it all as a game because the burden of controlling real ships and killing real people would be too much for them. With this knowledge, Bean was really frightened, but he could not let the others know or else they would be panicking as well. And so they continued playing “stimulators” until they had one “final exam”. Bean knew this was the final fight against the Bugger home planet. In the end, they had won against the Buggers; there was no life detected on the planet. However, they won at a large loss…all of the human fleets were killed in the process.
In the meantime back at Earth there was going to be a war coming on. The Russians were aiming on gaining control over the world. All children in space were to return to their homes. They were the future military leaders that would save Earth from Russia taking over.
The book ended with sending the children home to Earth…all but one, Ender Wiggin because all nations wanted to use him since he did save the world after all. Bean came home with Nikolai and both had a warm welcome from their parents. It was very touching when Bean was accepted so lovingly into his family, the family he never met until then.
Usually, I don’t like science fiction books much. I liked this book though because it dealt more with the children than it did with the aliens and other foreign concepts. At first I didn’t like the main character, Bean, because he showed so little emotion. He seemed arrogant and too smart for his own good. He had no sympathy. But throughout the book you can definitely see him growing, emotionally and intellectually. I thought it was very wise of the author to start Bean off as an unlikable, cold character and have him evolve into a lovable character by the end of the book. Even the teachers, like Colonel Dimak and Graff became likable by the end of the book.
Although we didn’t get to know much about Poke, she was an extremely important character. She gave Bean life and she drove him to do his best. Being the romantic that I am, I would have loved to see Bean and Poke reunited, but of course she died and death cannot be undone…
The organ farm and genetic ordeal was very interesting. It reminded me of biology class. I guess because we spent a great deal of time learning about genes and altering genes.
It’s surpising that by the end of his book, Bean was about seven or so. Of all the things that happened, he is still so young. In fact, all of the young heroes in the book are no more than teenagers. Perhaps this book is saying even the smallest and youngest can make a different in our world.
The book shows that you have to believe in yourself. It also shows that you have to know when you need help. Bean started off disliking Ender because Ender was better than him. However, in the end Bean knew that although Bean was very smart himself, he could not bear the burden of saving the world and that job could only be done by Ender. As he realized this, he did not grow envious, he only wanted to help Ender as much as he could.
Using apostrophes ^