(Description nicked from B&N.com.)
“Nearly 100 years before the events of Orson Scott Card’s bestselling novel Ender’s Game, humans were just beginning to step off Earth and out into the Solar System. A thin web of ships in both asteroid belts; a few stations; a corporate settlement on Luna. No one had seen any sign of other space-faring races; everyone expected that First Contact, if it came, would happen in the future, in the empty reaches between the stars. Then a young navigator on a distant mining ship saw something moving too fast, heading directly for our sun.
When the alien ship screamed through the solar system, it disrupted communications between the far-flung human mining ships and supply stations, and between them and Earth. So Earth and Luna were unaware that they had been invaded until the ship pulled into Earth orbit, and began landing terra-forming crews in China. Politics and pride slowed the response on Earth, and on Luna, corporate power struggles seemed more urgent than distant deaths. But there are a few men and women who see that if Earth doesn’t wake up and pull together, the planet could be lost.”
I’ve really been enjoying this prequel series to Ender’s Game. Although there have been quite a few novels that have come out in the Enderverse since the original was published, much of the conflict was firmly resolved in that first book. Reaching back into the history of the conflict provided the best outlet for interesting stories, and this book has that in spades.
Where the last book was notable for how divided the world still was, even in the face of an apocalyptic alien threat, this book shows people finally starting to come together to battle the Formics. It’s a sobering rumination on what it might take to get nations to stop fighting each other and unite for a common cause. In fact, by the end of the novel, readers get to see the genesis of the International Fleet that features so prominently in Ender’s Game. I know that Card has done a lot of “what-if”-ing as to how politics might play out given various circumstances, and he puts it to good use here.
Readers shouldn’t expect non-stop action, though. The power plays going on between various people in power are just as important as the ones going on between humans and Formics. While we’ve been following Lem Jukes up on Luna for a good little while, now his father Ukko Jukes begins to step onstage more, and the friction between them plays out with interesting consequences. Down planetside, Mazer Rackham and his compatriots begin taking the steps that form the groundwork for a united Earth.
It’s all of these character interactions that form the backbone of this story. Lem has been on a personal journey to become a better person through these books, and watching him struggle against not only his own habits but his own public image is sobering. Bingwen, the young Chinese boy who saved Mazer’s life has been proving himself over and over, and must soon take on an even greater challenge. Victor throws himself into harm’s way constantly, burning to avenge his family’s decimation at the Formic’s hands, but readers will watch him learn how to share the risks with others. And without spoiling things, late in the book is a scene of sacrifice that will take your breath away.
Although there’s maybe a bit less action in this book than in the previous ones, there’s plenty to satisfy your need for humans battling Formics. Strike teams enter the Formic ship, the Mobile Operations Police attempt to aid the Chinese military on the ground, and mining ships join forces to dogfight Formic landers in space. So don’t worry… your fix of things that go boom is well in hand.
This newest backstory to the Enderverse is full of tense action sequences and intellectual debates on politics and morality. Earth Awakens is a great addition to the series, and I can’t wait for the next book, where we’ll hopefully see one of the pivotal events of the entire storyline. Card and Johnston, keep up the good work, and write faster please!
Series: The First Formic War
Page Count: 400
Publication Date: June 10, 2014
Acquired: Provided by the publisher
Author Website–Orson Scott Card
Author Website–Aaron Johnston
Read an excerpt