Ender's Shadow is a parallel novel to Ender's Game. Not a sequel, not even a companion novel, but the same story told through a different point of view.
Though I loved (LOVED) Ender's Game I was a bit of a skeptic. Last time I heard someone talk about writing a story from a different POV it was Stephanie Meyer and in my opinion NOTHING she does is a good idea. Sorry to the fans. Yes I know that Ender's Shadow came first but I didn't hear about it first.
But Orson Scott Card is a heck of a writer and Ender's Shadow is a great book. I don't think it's as good as Ender's Game but very few books are that good.
Ender's Shadow follows Bean, who I remember vaguely but it's been a few years and a few hundred books since I've read Ender's Game. It starts early in Bean's life growing up on the streets of Rotterdam. It showed a darker side of life on earth than we saw with Ender. He grew up with a family, Bean grew up with a crew on the streets fighting for survival.
Bean's story diverges enough from Ender's that it deserves it's own book. It's interesting how two people can see the same situations differently based on their background and perspective. Whereas Ender is grounded by his heart, Bean relies on his intellect more. Both of the novels are so character driven that they are very different despite the fact that it's basically the same story.
So why isn't this book as good as Ender's Game? Because at times it feels like it tries too hard. Ender's Game is shorter and more edited. I think more could've been cut from this book, especially where it rambles about religion. Don't get me wrong I enjoy the philosophizing, but I think for a YA novel it needs to be reined in more. I'm not suggesting cutting it out completely. It's too much at the core of the story but sometimes could be more concise on the point. I even noticed a technical error where it broke from 3rd person POV into 1st person POV for one sentence. I know I'm being nit-picky but I found it so jarring that I re-read to make sure the surrounding passage was all in 3rd person.
If you like Ender's Game or like Sci-fi in general read this book. But don't read it before Ender's Game. Technically you can but just don't. It'll take away from the Ender's Game experience. This novel explains the twist and turns because Bean's rational intellect discovers things before anyone else. So if you read this novel you'll be spoiled for Ender's Game, but not the other way around. Ender's Game is simply perfect. Ender's Shadow is just a really good book.
Actually reading this book really made me want to re-read Ender's Game. Not in a bad way, but because I want to compare the stories side by side to see what I may have missed the first time around. Trust me, I'll be paying extra attention to Bean this time around.