Six Degrees: From Blackberry to Bean

Hallo, dear Reader! Top o’ the morning to you! (It’s not morning, you say? Well… can’t be helped). Things are just nuts over here, and I can’t process them any longer. I’m done. My processor is broken. The long and the short of it is: we’re moving to Wisconsin. In a month. And all that entails. I wrote up a huge long thing about it on my personal blog. I’m super excited, but I just can’t talk about it any more today.

Because of all the stuff, the blog is probably going to be pretty quiet for a while… because in all the packing and moving and homeschooling and trying to keep Yorien’s Hand on track… something’s gotta give. And it’s going to be the blog. But I’ll be back! When things are more finalized and I think I might have a reasonable date for the release, I will definitely be up for a blog tour or something… author interviews, excerpts, character interviews, guest posts… if you are at all interested in participating, put your thinking cap on about how you might want to do that!

Okay, logistics out of the way, let’s talk books!

Six Degrees of Kool Books ImageLast week, DJ posted about a story called Watership Down, linking as he did from Kelsier of Mistborn to El-ahrairah. While I have never read the book, I have seen the movie a lot, and I remember really enjoying it (and being kind of terrified by it… it’s animated, but not really a “kid’s” movie).

Anyway, he talked in his post about a character named Blackberry who is: “the rabbit with the highest IQ. He is able to think outside the narrow rabbit box that these simple animals are accustomed to. Hazel relies on him to get them out of tight situations or past dangers that none of the others can riddle their way through.”

This instantly brought to mind the character Bean from Ender’s Shadow by Orson Scott Card – because, though Bean is incredibly small for his age, he is the smartest character in the entire series (rivaling even Ender), definitely thinks outside the box and is the one Ender relies on to think up crazy ways of winning their battle games in Battle School.

I reviewed Ender’s Game a while back, and still intend to write one up for Shadow, because of the two, Ender’s Shadow is the story I like better. But for now, let’s just focus on these characters, shall we?

Sister Carlotta is a nun who works for the Battle School recruiting children of notable intelligence. It is she who first discovers Bean and takes him in and tests him to see if he might be a good candidate for the school. A good woman, Sister Carlotta grows to love Bean like a son, though he is so unfamiliar with the concept of family that he finds it difficult to understand her affection or return it.

Ender Wiggin doesn’t show up until much later in Ender’s Shadow, even though he is the main character of Ender’s Game. However, his is a presence felt throughout the story. Bean hears Ender whispered about in the hallways, finds himself compared to the “legendary” student just a few years his senior, and is intrigued by him, but also avoids him. When they finally meet, Ender has no idea who Bean is (which is kind of a blow to Bean’s ego, as he has built up this image of Ender and placed him on a pedestal, and is kind of bothered to find that Ender has never heard of him). Ender is a born leader. He cares about the kids in his “toon” and demonstrates a trust in his commanders and individual soldiers that makes them unbeatable despite having the deck stacked against them.

Achilles is an orphan living on the streets of Rotterdam at the beginning of the book. In a world where the strong prey off the weak, and the weak create “crews” in order to survive, Achilles is one of the strong because he is big and mean, but he also walks with a limp. Bean (also an orphan), convinces his crew leader, a girl named Poke, to pick a larger “bully” to convince to be part of their group so they can protect themselves from the other bullies. When they pick Achilles, because of his limp, Bean recognizes their mistake instantly. Achilles is smart enough to understand the plan and go along with it, charismatic enough to take the reins of leadership away from Poke and – because he is also a sociopath – eventually murders her because she saw him in a moment of helplessness.

Nikolai Delphiki is Bean’s best friend at Battle School. Nikolai is older than Bean and they bear a stunning resemblance, which is what first draws them to speak, and eventually become friends. Nikolai is nowhere near as brilliant as Bean, though he is smart enough and competent enough to be in the Battle School – but this does not deter these two from becoming close friends. Nikolai is very humble, seeing and understanding Bean’s brilliance but not envying him for it at all… instead he feels protective towards Bean because he is so small, and they joke that Bean is his little brother.

Petra Arkanian is one of the few girls at Battle School, and part of Ender’s inner circle of friends. Despite having a tough exterior, Petra really is the heart of their group of friends. And though she and Bean have a season of distrust between them in Battle School, she becomes a main character in the later “Shadow” books and one of Bean’s closest friends.

 

This is one of my all-time favorite books. And I can’t think of a better one to get to end Six Degrees on for the time being. As always, you are more than welcome to play along, and can find the rules of the game HERE.

~ jenelle

5 Comments

Deborah O'Carroll

…Wow. O_O I wish you the best in your moving! Hope it won’t be TOO hectic.

BEAN! I LOVE BEAN! :D Sometimes I just can’t decide whether I like Ender’s Shadow or Ender’s Game better… Probably whichever I’m reading right then. ^_^

Awesome post! :)

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jenelle

Thanks! I think it will probably be just hectic enough. LOL

Yes, Bean is my favorite! I definitely like Ender’s Shadow more… but they are both extremely well-written. I love that Ender’s Game is such a marvelous picture of various different types of leaders, but in the end, I think Bean is just a more sympathetic character, and Ender in Ender’s own head is kind of depressing… so I like seeing him through Bean’s eyes better. :)

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DJ Edwardson (@djedwardson)

Back to the midwest. Oh, how cool. In more ways than one. I bet you’ll love having proper winters!

Interesting that this story goes backwards to tell Bean’s side of things instead of forward from the events of Ender’s Game. I haven’t read this one because I was rather put off by Ender’s Game. I found myself not caring much for Ender…or really most of the main characters. Bean was one of the exceptions, though.

I’ll miss your posts in the interim, but I agree that something had to give and the blog is a good choice.

Have fun storming Wisconson!

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jenelle

Thanks! Yes, I’m SO looking forward to snow… real snow. Huzzah!

Yeah, I read Ender’s Shadow first, and I just love it to pieces. It is such a different tone and a different perspective on the events of Ender’s Game… and Ender himself is just better when you get to see him through Bean’s eyes, because Bean is just a better character to have to travel around with on the whole. I definitely recommend it.

Also, certain things like the crude language used by the kids are somehow less jarring or offensive when it’s coming from kids who live in a survival-of-the-fittest scenario without the influence of any parental figures whatsoever… as opposed to in Ender’s Game where I just keep wanting to know why the parents aren’t stopping their kids from being evil little jerks.

And… one of my favorite lines ever is in Ender’s Shadow. Bean gets to Battle School, looks around, sees the way that the older kids are teasing the younger kids… the same scene that Ender walked in on at first and felt like he needed to “rise to the top” or “beat his way to the top so no one could hurt him” and Bean’s reaction as he watches the younger kids get all flushed and flustered that: “They didn’t know love when they saw it.”

Ahhh. Chills. I think that’s beautiful. And I love the way it reflects how distorted Ender’s view of others can be.

Because, unlike Ender, Bean DID live in a world where murder occurred. He’s seen true hatred. Battle School to him is not a place where he needs to protect himself… it’s a place where he can at last find safety, security, and be accepted for his skills and intelligence instead of just judged by his size.

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Jack

I read Watership Down this summer and loved it. It is an amazing book. I had trouble putting it down. I need to see if I can find the movie somewhere.

I’ve again been debating the idea of reading the Ender’s Game books. I am sure I’d like them, I just need to find time to pick them up again

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