When I first read Orson Scott Card many years ago, I was somewhat apathetic toward his work. It might have been that I read a companion book rather than the main story, or perhaps I was just reading it at the wrong point in my life. Either way, my opinions about his writing have changed drastically.
For anyone considering reading “Ender’s Game”–read the author’s introduction. Card has a sense of humor. He acknowledges on the first page that the majority of readers probably won’t bother to read the introduction anyway, before going into some of his thought processes when writing the book.
“Ender’s Game” is set on a futuristic Earth that is threatened by the Buggers. In order to prepare for the Third Invasion, genius kids are trained from a young age in tactics and warfare at a specialized Battle School.
The protagonist, Ender Wiggin, leaves his family to begin training at the age of six. As his training progresses, Ender faces obstacles that none of the other kids have had to deal with, and eventually comes to the realization that he is being trained to become the commander of Earth’s forces for the Third Invasion. He struggles internally with his own alienation from his peers, and that he is forced to dealing with bullies in a cruel manner out of self-preservation. Meanwhile, the inevitable conflict with the Buggers is approaching sooner than Ender could have suspected…
My favorite characters were “Locke” and “Demosthenes.” These were the screennames of Ender’s brother and sister, who hid behind seven proxies in order to achieve political fame on the internet. The world grows to respect their political opinions without realizing that they’re just a couple of kids. The anonymity that the internet offers with regards to age was an amazing discovery for me in junior high and high school, and I had some great discussions with people who assumed that I was far older than I was. The “Locke” and “Demosthenes” scheme was absolutely brilliant, and I loved every minute of it.
One of the biggest complaints that a lot of people have with the book is the fact that the kids are too mature for their age. I didn’t have a problem with this; I thought that their age made them suitable for the type of tactics that commanding an army against the Buggers required, because it is a lot like playing a complicated video game. Meanwhile, despite the overall impression of maturity that the kids try to convey, there are a lot of times in the story where their childhood emotions shine through.
I felt at first like the ending was a bit anticlimactic (mostly because I knew what was going to happen from reading Ender’s Shadow), but I hadn’t expected the whole Speaker for the Dead thing, which was mind-blowingly awesome. I couldn’t think of a better way that the novel could have ended, and it made me think that there’s a lot more to Card than I originally gave him credit for.
Rumor has it that there’s supposed to be a movie version of “Ender’s Game” coming out in 2013. I’m a bit skeptical as to how it would play out in a movie format, but I do know that the book is excellent. I’d highly recommend it for anyone who enjoys science fiction or is just looking for a good read!
I read this book as part of The 2012 Science Fiction Experience hosted by Stainless Steel Droppings and the Speculative Fiction Challenge hosted by Baffled Books. “Ender’s Game” was a dual-winner of the Hugo and Nebula Awards, which is quite an achievement, and as so I am also including it in the Award Winning Books Reading Challenge hosted by Gathering Books.