Reviews of Children of the Mind (1996)
Review by mrdude (2005-09-01)
(although I don't include spoilers for this specific book those who have not read the previous three ender wiggin books would be much happier if they did not read this review)
It is a rare occurrence for me to actually complete a series, despite my endless reading of them. So it is a very bittersweet feeling when I actually come to the end of one. I was insanely worried that this one would end in disaster. No I am not referring to the storyline when I say this, I shall definitely leave that unsaid, but after reading Xenocide I thought card had lost my interest. Low and behold this volume was quite redeeming for me.
I am sure some of the credit is due to me shying away from the series for a bit, as I think the enders series (books 2 through 4 anyhow) are somewhat repetitious; but when staggered apart a bit can be highly enjoyable. There is also the added benefit of the resolution that comes at an end of a series, weather the reader enjoys the outcome or not, there is a sense of finality, and card tends to not disappoint in such matters.
The book follows a very similar style to previous books in the series, although I seem to always want to exclude the first book, Enders Game, from such lists because it does differ much from it's sequels. As in all of the Ender books each chapter is started by a quotation, this time around being those of Han Quin-joa, from the previous book Xenocide. Unlike the previous books these quotations don't seem to fit quite well with the story line, and for myself, acted more as a re-iteration of already solved conflicts in the previous novel.
The story itself strays some from that of ender wiggin, and although he does play integral parts in the story, other characters seemed to shine through more. I was especially surprised at the immense development of Jane's character, although much of the story line further explains the peter and Val characters created in the previous book as well. This novel also shows more of card's interest in Asian cultures, this time centering somewhat around the Japanese, where he even goes as far as to make parallels with current Japanese history and his story line. Overall this is an excellent conclusion to a superb series and I lament somewhat at not being able read a continuation of this fantastical future.
(review also posted at the IBDoF)
Review by waynegoode (2005-03-08)
The three essentials to a sci-fi novel are plot, ideas and characters. Let’s look at these three in ‘Children of the Mind’.
Plot: The book is winding up this part (books 2-4) of the series. Turns out, there is not that much to wind up. There is some plot in the beginning and end, but the bulk of the book has very little plot and it's stretched thin.
Ideas: Card introduced a few interesting ideas in ‘Speaker for the Dead’ and followed them up in ‘Xenocide’. They are continued in this book, but there is not that much to left to say and no new ideas are added.
Characters: We learn some about the characters. But, does any one really want to know more about them?
So, if the book is short on plot and ideas, what is there? Most of the book is long descriptive passages and in-depth analysis of the characters, getting down to the level of a soap opera. It seems they spend half of the book being each other's therapists. I found this very tedious. This is not why I read sci-fi.
From ‘Ender's Game’ to ‘Children of the Mind’, Card has moved in the direction of ‘literary fiction’. This book is definitely that. If you like ‘literary fiction’, then you may like this book. But, for most people who were drawn to ‘Ender’s Game,’ this book will not be interesting.
Review by sqbr (2003-06-30)
A long, boring, painful tying up of loose ends of the "Ender" series as it stood at the time. It's never good when you spend a whole book just wanting the (supposedly likable) protagonist to die. Feel free to read the first three and ignore this one, you're really not missing much.
Review by Sergio (2003-03-10)
Entire book is tautology, Orson should've started writing Ender's shadow earlier, at least we'd hope that Ender is stil alive ;)