Speaker for the Dead
How a sequel can change everything and still succeed.
Ender’s Game is a science fiction novel to be revered. From watching Ender develop exciting new tactics to outwit his older opponents, to the strange and surreal sequences presented to the antagonist through his bizarre computer game, the book toys with ideas and concepts that make the novel an instant classic. But how did the sequel to the hit story, which changes everything, manage to somehow be even better than it’s predecessor?
Speaker for the Dead shys away from the titular Ender of the first book. While he’s still the main character, he plays a more supporting role as an investigator rather than a soldier. This change in what Ender, called by his true name of Andrew Wiggins for most of the book, is called to do allows the book to be something more than Ender’s Game. Instead of a story of growth, hardship, and violence, Speaker for the Dead turns to intrigue, family trauma, and crushing guilt. By taking the series in a new direction, the sequel proves that it can stand on it’s own two feet.
The intrigue itself is where the beauty in Speaker for the Dead shines through. Three mysteries take place at the same time: Ender’s investigation into the death of Marcos Maria Ribeira and the affect he had on his family, the strange symbiosis of the species on the planet Lusitania, and the sudden and strange death of the planet’s xenologer Pipo Figueira. Not only are each of these mysteries interesting on their own, the way they influence one another and tie together near the end makes not only the first read interesting, but the second and third as well. The details and clues littered throughout the story of strange deaths on a strange planet are perfect for a mystery novel like Speaker for the Dead.
The sequel to Ender’s Game is a book I can easily recommend for anyone with an interest in mystery or science fiction. The characters are interesting and deep, the atmosphere of intrigue and fear on Lusitania is expertly crafted, and the story is one that I will always look back to as an example of how to create an interesting story that makes the reader feel clever when they figure things out but also keep them guessing at every turn.