Earthborn


It has been a while since I reviewed an Orson Scott Card book, mainly because I have read them all and now have to anxiously wait for a new one to come out. I am on the author alert at the library and they sent me an email saying a new novel from him had been released: Earthborn (Homecoming).  Now I thought that I had read the whole Homecoming series, but since I couldn’t remember for sure, I got it again.  Sure enough I had read it (the library had bought a new addition), but I didn’t remember it fully so I sat down and read it again.

This series is wonderful, but I would recommend reading it from the beginning. The Memory of Earth is the first in this five-part series and by far the most interesting to read.  In this future world, humans have left Earth to settle in Harmony and Earth is such a distant memory it is a myth. A powerful computer manipulates the settlers towards its goal: to return to the lost home planet. While as a Christian, I grapple a little bit with his idea of a computer as a semi-god; manipulating lives. However, I love the feminist society that he creates in the first book (unfortunately, this society decays in the next few books, but women remain complex and important characters) .  The characters with their special powers are complex and interesting to imagine.

In Earthborn (Homecoming), the original characters are so far in the distant past they have become almost gods.  The new cast has some of the same special abilities as the originals yet they deal with the abilities in different ways.  However, their issues are not returning to a distant home planet, rather how to get along with the new creatures who have populated Earth, creatures far different from humans.  The resulting conflicts resonate with the racism that we still deal with in our world, and with what it really means to be human. 

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Shadows in Flight

Orson Scott Card is one of my favorite authors of all time. So I was very excited when I found Shadows in Flight (The Shadow Series) on hold for me at the library.  I could tell it was a short book, maybe a one or two-day read, so I held it until I was not ensnared in any other book to maximize enjoyment. Shadows in Flight (The Shadow Series) is his newest book.  It is the final chapter of Bean; one of the supporting characters of Ender’s Game (Ender, Book 1).  If you haven’t read this series, it is well worth it.  However, I wouldn’t recommend reading Shadows in Flight first.  Although this series is not linear, but written more like narrative spokes coming out of Ender’s Game,  a lot of the narrative is based on prior knowledge of the series.  And this is definitely not the best entry point.  But if you are already a fan, you will enjoy it.

In this book, we follow the last travels of Bean, self-exiled because of a genetic mutation to a space ship to extend his life.  His children, who share his mutation, travel with him, while researching for a cure.  This is a nice wrap up to his narrative.  As many of his books are, this is a youth novel, with the children as precocious heroes.  The writing is clear and a little simple.  All of his books for teens are written this way.  I found it more obvious in this book where the narrative was less complicated. As always he manages to capture many of the feelings of a child with accuracy.  For example, in this book, one of his characters experience that angry feeling that a child has when he knows he can take more responsibility – if only his parent would notice.  Then, he is confronted by the realization and mixed feelings that develop when the parent does assign a task that is more responsibility than he has ever had.

If you are a parent looking for a book for a kid, this series is a great choice for kids from about the eleven years old and up, especially boys.  There is some violence, mostly between children, which may be a little unnerving for a younger child.  The books do have self-contained morality that is excellence for kids.

Shadows in Flight (The Shadow Series), Orson Scott Card, Tor Books, 2012