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Good, but ultimately feels unnecessary
on 24 May 2015
I've worked my way through four of the Ender books in the past few months - I enjoyed each of them a lot. Looking at the list of books in the series however, I think this is where it comes to a natural conclusion. Children of the Mind felt in many ways like an unnecessary book - it's not as tightly written as the first two, and it seems like Xenocide could have been stripped back a little to incorporate the meaningful parts of this one without any real loss. It's not a bad book by any means - it has some very nice moments in it and it does manage to bring a complex narrative to a mostly satisfying conclusion.
So much more than previous books though, it is driven primarily by philosophical exposition - very little actually *happens* in it. It seems in some respects to be an indulgence on the part of the author, looking to inject his own metaphysical meanderings somewhere people would actually read them. That's not wrong - he can put whatever he likes in his books - but it always seems a little bit cheap to insert your words into the mouths of your characters. The Ender books have always merged philosophy and narrative. They just usually do a better job of making it seamless than in this one.
Still, this mild criticism aside, I'm glad I read it because it brings a good sense of closure to a complex cycle of books. However, certainly at the moment, I feel like I'm done with Ender - looking at the ten remaining books in the series brings a sense of dread rather than a sense of excitement. In my review of Xenocide, I said that it had given me a slight case of 'sequel fatigue'. Children of the Mind stands as a book despite that, but it did put the nail in the coffin of my wanting to read any more in the Enderverse any time soon.