The book Speaker for the Dead, by Orson Scott Card, is a gripping and intense story about understanding other life forms. Intelligent, friendly aliens are kept behind fences and denied any contact with humans except the minimal amount for them to be studied. When their knowledge about humans gets out of control and the aliens start learning more than they would know naturally, the planet and everyone on it is forced to rebel against the interplanetary regulations to keep all the inhabitants alive.
This book brings up the point that humans seem to think everything else exists only to be studied and learned about. The aliens aren't seen as aggressive or threatening to humans, but they are denied knowledge of anything that humans know about. Meanwhile, the humans learn interesting things about a new species and give nothing in return. Speaker shows how contempt for other intelligent creatures, human and alien, can blind people from the truth. The book also does a good job of showing how unreasonably selfish people can be at times.
I loved this book. Once I got into it, I couldn't put it down until I finished. The plot is slow at first as the characters and setting are introduced, but picks up speed quickly enough that the book doesn't become tedious. The characters interact with each other and the plot realistically. I highly recommend this book, even for people who usually don't read science fiction books. It's easier to understand after reading Ender's Game, the first book in the series, but everything is explained well enough that Speaker can be read independently.
Review written by Bob