Second among the children is Bean, who becomes Ender's lieutenant despite the fact that he is the smallest and youngest of the Battle School students. Bean is the central character of Shadow, and we pick up his story when he is just a two-year-old starving on the streets of a future Rotterdam that has become a hell on Earth. Bean is unnaturally intelligent for his age, which is the only thing that allows him to escape--though not unscathed--the streets and eventually end up in Battle School. Despite his brilliance, however, Bean is doomed to live his life as an also-ran to the more famous and in many ways more brilliant Ender. Nonetheless, Bean learns things that Ender cannot or will not understand, and it falls to this once pathetic street urchin to carry the weight of a terrible burden that Ender must not be allowed to know.
Although it may seem like Shadow is merely an attempt by Card to cash in on the success of his justly famous Ender's Game, that suspicion will dissipate once you turn the first few pages of this engrossing novel. It's clear that Bean has a story worth telling, and that Card (who started the project with a co-writer but later decided he wanted it all to himself) is driven to tell it. And though much of Ender's Game hinges on a surprise ending that Card fans are likely well acquainted with, Shadow manages to capitalise on that same surprise and even turn the table on readers. In the end it seems a shame that Shadow, like Bean himself, will forever be eclipsed by the myth of Ender, because this is a novel that can easily stand on its own. Luckily for readers, Card has left plenty of room for a sequel, so we may well be seeing more of Bean in the near future. --Craig E. Engler, Amazon.com
"You can't step into the same river twice, but Card has gracefully dipped twice into the same inkwell--once for Ender's Game, and again for his stand-alone 'parallel novel.' As always, everyone will be struck by the power of Card's children, always more and less than human, perfect yet struggling, tragic, yet hopeful, wondrous and strange." --Publishers Weekly (starred review) on Ender's Shadow
"An absorbing, near-flawless performance." --Kirkus
"The wonders of Battleschool and flashsuits and children's armies should keep readers turning pages." --Publisher's Weekly (starred review)
"An exceptional work." --School Library Journal