I just finished rereading Speaker for the Dead, a book that I’d read long ago but only recently decided to try again. The book is the second in the Ender Saga, the series that gave us Ender’s Game, which to this day remains one of my favorite science fiction books of all time.
My memories of my first read-through are vague, but I remember not particularly liking the book the first time I read it. Now that I’m older, I can see why. As many have said before, while this book is technically the sequel to Ender’s Game, it is a very different book. When I was younger, I was hoping for a continuation of the military sci-fi that I’d loved so much. What I got instead was a relatively slow, philosophical book that I certainly didn’t fully grasp when I first read it.
On this read-through, though, my experience was incredible. Even though you won’t find lasers and battles in this book, I found the conflict compelling, and by the time I got to the end, I was flipping pages as fast as ever. Personally, I was sucked in by the familial conflicts, the mysteries surrounding the piggies, and by the character of Ender himself. I find the whole idea of a “Speaker for the Dead” to be a powerful one, and I thought Card pulled the concept off well.
I think one reason why some people dislike this book is because they are expecting a true sequel to Ender’s Game. I’m not sure that’s accurate here. The characters have grown and changed, and while the events of the book are certainly shaped by the events of Ender’s Game, this book could almost stand on its own as the beginning of a completely separate series.
I thoroughly enjoyed this book. If you’re looking for fast-paced military sci-fi, there are far better options. But if you don’t mind characters sometimes acting as philosophical mouthpieces, and if you’re looking for something a little slower and deeper, I can’t think of a book I’ve liked more in recent memory.