My feeling, which I gather is pretty similar to the view of a lot of people, is that Ender's Game is the best of the bunch, the trilogy that follows is reasonably good but essentially very different, and the whole Bean series... well, I think I gave up on it after the first book, which I found pretty implausible and not engaging enough to be worth it. It was trying to tell a parallel story to Ender's Game, but that just threw its own inadequacies in comparison to EG into sharp relief. It was pretty well-named -- a mere shadow of the original.
Among people I know, opinion is pretty evenly split on whether Ender's Game
or Speaker for the Dead
is the best book in the series.
Personally, I prefer Speaker
to Ender's Game
is also one of two OSC books to bring me to tears at the climax; the other is Lost Boys
.) I like Xenocide
but I don't love it. Children of the Mind
is just there. I think those two books would have been better (and stronger) if published as a single book at half the length.
I didn't like Ender's Shadow
, and I dropped the series until I was asked to review War of the Gifts
(a missing story set at Christmas during Ender's Game
) which was utterly and irredeemably awful.