Tuesday, 13 December 2016

Books 5 & 6 of 2016: Ender's Game by Orson Scott Card & San Francisco Night by Stephen Leather

When I returned home from Wales in February, I was surprised to find that I had a package waiting for me. Mr Click suggested that I'd ordered something online, but I knew that I hadn't. It turned out that I'd been sent a copy of Ender's Game by Orson Scott Card. Stacy @ Stacy's Books had reviewed it and offered to share it with a commenter, and I was the lucky commenter who received a copy.

When Ender is six years old he is selected for an elite army. Children are sent out to a space station and spend their time being put through their paces in a combat game, forming into teams and honing their skills to take part in a space battle that is raging ahead of them. Meanwhile, back on Earth, his brother and sister who were deemed unsuitable for the programme work together to influence politics and popular opinion. Together the three of them will influence Earth's own destiny.

I really enjoyed this book. I jumped straight into it and I barely came up for air until I'd finished. I remember having some pretty late nights reading it along the way too!

In a way it kind of reminded me of The Hunger Games. I guess because of the parallels of a dystopian future with kids being pitted against each other. But I think I actually enjoyed this one more. I enjoyed my read of The Hunger Games series but I don't think it's got as much re-read value as this one.

At first I thought that Ender sounded a lot older than six, but as I went on through the book I think that was actually intentional. It makes him stand out because he's just not like the other kids. It's because he's not like all the normal children that he's chosen and it's that which makes him Ender.

I won't give away the ending here, but I guessed exactly what was going on during the final battle. The whole book had been building up to that point though so I don't think it was meant to be a surprise.

I'd been holding off seeing the film adaptation because I wanted to read the book, and now I feel comfortable picking that up some time. Of course, this is just the first book in a whole series by Orson Scott Card, and I'm definitely going to read the rest of the books in the future as well. Plus this'll need a reread too.

I followed up Ender's Game with another book in the Jack Nightingale series. This one, San Francisco Night by Stephen Leather, is the sixth in the series.

This installment sees Nightingale in San Francisco (obviously) where he finds him embroiled in the mystery of a group known as 'The Apostles'. The organisation is abducting children and murdering people in an attempt to summon a demon into the world. The only person who will be about to stop them is Jack, the question is whether he will be able to do it in time!

The first thing that I noticed when my friend lent me this book is that the cover doesn't follow the earlier format of the series. Upon closer inspection the paper is really white and smooth, it's also slightly larger than your regular paperback book. It turns out that this one has been self-published, rather than produced through the same publisher as the others. I'm not actually sure why that is.

Once the story got going, I quite enjoyed it. I liked the setting. It was interesting to see Jack out of his usual haunts. This one also introduced the character of Amy Chen, a police officer in the city. She and Jack had to work together, so he had to try and explain just what was going on, win her over to his side, and then get her to help. They made a good couple too.

There were a couple of bits where I couldn't help but think that the American characters sounded kind of British. I get that terms like 'sofa' and 'couch' can be used interchangeably but it sort of pulled me out of the story a little when there were things being said which didn't feel so American to me.

The fact that it was self-published kind of showed through in some parts as well. There were a few typos, some missing words and things weren't properly formatted. Some of it was just simple aesthetics, like Chapter 87 not being a proper heading, but it was another little thing that pulled me out of an otherwise good story. They were editing mistakes that really should have been caught before going to print.

I'll pick up a copy of the seventh book in the series some time. My friend who's been lending me these books switched over to a Kindle so I don't have physical copy I can borrow of the next one. I've enjoyed them so far though, so I'll get to at eventually.

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