The Last Shadow by Orson Scott Card
My rating: 4 of 5 stars
Full disclosure: I am a huge fan of the Enderverse, with Ender's Game sitting on my top 10 shelf. The Enderverse is basically divided into two parts: Ender’s Saga which of course follows Ender’s life … and the Shadow Series which follows the lives of his supporting cast. However, the style of the books after Ender’s Game was markedly different, taking a more thought provoking or philosophical approach that I found interesting, but not all that exciting. Generally the Shadow Series was a return the the original style of that first book, retelling the same story from a different perspective and I really enjoyed them. The Last Shadow is much more like Speaker for the Dead and Xenocide … and I highly recommend that you read through at least that far before reading this book, which actually picks up sometime after Children of the Mind and tones down the weirdness a little.
Ender is Dead … Long Live Ender.
… you got an apocalyptic virus with a team trying to save humanity
… you got crazy genius kids (vaguely connected to Ender) straight from the Big Bang Theory that can help figure out who dunnit
… you got space travel with time dilation (so 1000s of years in the future) with super secret blink tech to give you a “first contact” situation without the centuries of waiting.
… despite all the bickering, all the kool kids are way civilized and rarely challenged much … it was amusing in a Calvin and Hobbes sort of way.
Even with all of that silliness … I really enjoyed the book … reading it in just under two days, so it does pull you along nicely. Parts can come across as a tad preachy, but not too bad or over the top … and it does get you thinking about “things.” I would say it is not his best work, but it was better than Children of the Mind, so in that respect I am rounding up to four (4) stars.
I was given this free advance reader copy (ARC) ebook at my request and have voluntarily left this review.
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My Ratings Explained ...
- [ ***** ] Amazing Read - Perfect story, exciting, engrossing, well developed complex characters, solid plot with few to no holes, descriptive environments and place settings, great mystery elements, realistic dialogue, believable reactions and behaviors; a favorite that I can re-read many times.
- [ **** ] Great Read - Highly entertaining and enjoyable, exciting storyline, well developed characters and settings, a few discrepancies but nothing that can’t be overlooked. Some aspect of the story was new/refreshing to me and/or intriguing. Recommended for everyone.
- [ *** ] Good Read - Solid story with a 'good' ending, or has some other redeeming feature. Limited character development and/or over reliance on tropes. Noticeable discrepancies in world building and/or dialog/behavior that were distracting. I connected enough with the characters/world to read the entire series. Most of the books I read for fun are here. Recommended for fans of the genre.
- [ ** ] Okay Read - Suitable for a brief, afternoon escape … flat or shallow characters with little to no development. Over the top character dialog and/or behavior. Poor world building with significant issues and/or mistakes indicating poor research. Excessive use of trivial detail, info dumps and/or pontification. Any issues with the story/characters are offset by some other aspect that I enjoyed. Not very memorable. May only appeal to a niche group of readers. Recommended for some (YMMV).
- [ * ] Bad Read - Awkward and/or confusing writing style. Poor world building and/or unbelievable (or unlikeable) characters. Victimization, gaslighting, blatant abuse, unnecessary violence, child endangerment, or any other highly objectionable behaviors by Main characters. I didn't connect with the story at all; significant aspects of this story irritated me enough that I struggled to finished it. Series was abandoned. Not recommended.