“What is this crap, and who the hell cares?” I asked myself several times while reading Orson Scott Card’s Xenocide and Children of the Mind. I quite probably would have pitched the latter off of my balcony and into the neighboring apartment complex if I didn’t remember that it was a library book I had to return.
I have to talk about both of these books in the same entry, as Xenocide doesn’t really end and Children of the Mind absolutely cannot stand alone, as it starts right where the previous book left off. In fact, in the foreword for the last book, Card says something to the effect of being allowed to split Xenocide into two novels so that he could tell the story in more depth.
I adore Ender’s Game and enjoy Speaker of the Dead well enough. But unfortunately, Card’s inability to write a series ending that lives up to its beginning’s promise surfaces yet again. Somehow, I’m not surprised.
The later two books are overly didactic and “philosophizing,” though I put the latter in quotes because Card’s “philosophies” in these books are only half-developed. I don’t really care about any of the characters and their contrived conflicts, though Han Fei-tzu and Han Qing-jao have their interesting moments. And my god, don’t even get me started about the ridiculousness of the plot.
I’m not trying to say that Xenocide and Children of the Mind completely lack merit. The role of the descolada virus is still intriguing enough, and I was definitely fascinated by the bugger society and its relationship with the piggy and human societies. But that merit gets buried in the constant half-baked metaphysical and philosophical rambling.
I highly recommend that you do not, under any circumstances, bother with these books unless you’re a die-hard Ender Wiggin or Orson Scott Card fan. As I am neither, I am simply going to pretend that Xenocide and Children of the Mind don’t exist and move on with my life.