Ender’s Game by Orson Scott Card is a novel about humanity’s future war with an alien race and one family whose children were bred to lead it. Upon thinking about it, it makes me think of ‘Harry Potter in Space’ with a darker ending.
WHY I PICKED IT UP:
I actually read this along time ago in college. It has a great title and while the premise might sound a little trite, it’s hiding some spoilers that help it stand out from the crowd. I’m reviewing it because of the movie, which I haven’t seen. I always thought this would make a better video game adaptation than a movie, though.
WHAT I LIKE ABOUT IT:
So, so much. First let me say this book is a total downer, but in the best possible way. If you want something happy, don’t read this book, but if you like to explore the human condition, it’s a must read. It’s pretty much a tragedy as we watch our main character, Ender, try to overcome, then finally embrace his flaw–that he’s too good at everything. Events conspire to lead him to do atrocious things and in the end he’s not sure if he can live with himself. I can’t go into too much due to spoilers, but Card addresses moral themes, themes about growing up, humanity and what it means to BE.
The main action of the book takes place in Ender’s days at the Academy where he learns warfare in zero-g and how to command troops.
I especially love the social commentary on children, video games, and how we train our progeny to replace us.
The list of things I like seriously just keeps going on and on. If you’re looking for literary sci-fi, this is it.
WHAT COULD BE BETTER, IF ANYTHING:
The beginning is kind of rough, dropping us in to the future and explaining things in bits and pieces later. It is better than the alternative, however of vomiting up exposition. It was at first hard to take the threat of the aliens seriously due to their name–The Buggers–but I got over it as the bulk of the novel is about Ender.
The narrative is also chopped up a bit–scenes with the Academy administrator and the brass open each chapter, and some chapters with Ender’s siblings sometimes push the fourth wall and take us away from what is otherwise an almost lyrical novel inside out main character’s head. The good far outweighs the bad for me and I love this book to this day.
RESULT: I READ IT
And I’ll read it again and again. And I’ll read it to my kids. I don’t know anything about this book’s many sequels, but in this one Card does right by being unafraid to make his characters hurt. They’re each wonderfully flawed and it makes for a great read.
Check it out for yourself and let me know what you think!