Tor | 1999
If you haven't read Ender's Game, go. Go read it and then come back. I'll wait.
Okay, good. Now you know what you need to know to read Ender's Shadow, which in my opinion is actually better than Ender's Game. That last statement may perhaps be blasphemous, but I've decided I don't care. As much as I like Ender Wiggin and appreciate his struggles and his story, I find I like Bean that much better. And that Card, fourteen years after Ender's Game was published, decided to go back and write Bean's story, tells me that I'm not the only one with affection for Bean.
This is a parallel novel. This concept is so awesome to me, I don't even know where to start. Basically, Card went back and wrote Ender's Game again, only from the perspective of Bean. Through him, the reader gets that much more information about Battle School, the plans of Graff and the other teachers, and how the war against the buggers plays out. We get to see how Ender's rag-tag army was created and we get to understand more about how the political situation on Earth is playing out. We get to see a strong-willed, strong-minded character we root for even through his sometimes misguided behavior. We get to know Bean, an important character in Ender's Game, in his entirety.
Looking for the perfect holiday gift for a sci-fi-loving kid on your list? Ender's Game and Ender's Shadow, bundled together. And let me also suggest, that no matter whether a reader professes to like sci-fi or not, these books cross-over and transcend genre. Give them a try. You'll be glad you did.