**Summer Reading, book 11**
This book has been a long time coming. For real. Speaker for the Dead is the sequel to Ender’s Game by Orson Scott Card which I first read in Junior High. I LOVED Ender’s Game, but when I read the back cover of Speaker for the Dead, I wasn’t that excited about it.
Fast forward 13 or so years to Summer Reading 2016, where I’m only reading books that I own that I’ve never read. My husband (who has some awesome books – just gonna brag a second) owns Speaker, so I decided it would go on my list. It’s also a Hugo Award winner, so 2 birds, ya know? You might remember that I listened to the Ender’s Game audiobook in May to prep for reading Speaker this summer; it was pretty fresh in my mind, and I was excited to see what the sequel had to offer.
Tears. Heartache. Grief. Sorrow. And a new alien species with totally fascinating biology. That’s what it had to offer me. AND I LOVED IT.
Speaker for the Dead follows Ender Wiggin as he speaks for the dead (you’re just gonna have to read it to know what that means) 3000 years after the events in Ender’s Game. Thanks to lots of near light speed space flight, Ender is only 35 years old. In Speaker, Ender is forced to deal with saying goodbye to family in more ways that one, being truly on his own for the first time since the Bugger Wars ended, having the possibility of redemption, and so much more.
Orson Scott Card does a fabulous job of melding together so many great themes: grief, guilt, family, what it means to be “other”, what is means to be “same”, life, cultural differences, forgiveness, disabilities, and faith, all while writing a very consistent universe and a plot that makes you want to keep reading.
I can sometimes be an overly expressive person, but believe me when I say that this might be my new favorite book. As in favorite book of all time (I really don’t have that hard of a time picking favorites, though I know a lot of people do). As in: “Move over, A Tree Grows in Brooklyn and The Count of Monte Cristo. You’ve been replaced.” The jury’s still out on a final decision for this, but I’m thinking that yes, Speaker for the Dead may be my new favorite book.
As I was reading the last 40 pages or so, I ugly cried. Not the normal book-cry of having a few tears flowing down my cheeks while I read. I had to put the book aside, put my face in my hands, and sob. My chest literally ached from what I was reading. But just like when Ender has to share hard truths about those who have passed away, it was cleansing and redeeming.
So, if you like science fiction, if you like not-your-typical-humans-vs-aliens story, if you like biology (especially evolutionary biology), if you’ve ever grieved, if you’ve ever felt imprisoned by guilt, if you’re seeking to know what it means to be human, or if you’re striving to better understand cultural differences, I HIGHLY suggest reading Speaker for the Dead. It’s not too much to say that it can be life changing.