Ender’s Game by Orson Scott Card (1985), 336 pages per Amazon, but my copy ends on page 226
Ender was conceived because the ruling authority thought he just might have the right characteristics to be able to lead the fleet in the Bugger Wars (the buggers are aliens). He advances through the training years ahead of the norm. There’s endless debate about the best way to push him to excel, but all Ender knows is that they make his life hard. He’s good at this stuff, but he doubts himself and resents that his destiny was chosen for him.
I don’t remember why I decided I should read this book, but I bought it to read during the June 2008 read-a-thon. That seems about one hundred years ago. Over the impending years, I’ve had two brothers-in-law bugging me (heh, that pun was unintentional) to read it whenever the subject came up. I challenged myself to read it in 2011, and now, at the end of 2012, I’ve finally fulfilled that goal.
I was caught up in the fast-paced story from the very beginning. Ender is very human, and reading the (apparently begrudgingly written) introduction by the author helped draw me in, too. Card, there, talks about how some readers criticized the book, saying Ender (and the other characters) didn’t talk or think like children, but Card’s response that when he was a child he heard himself speak not as a child but as a person, which I thought was a very good point.
I really loved this book. I definitely see some ways Ender’s Game might have influenced The Hunger Games, or at least some parallels between the two. Ender is incredibly sympathetic.
Now, just a couple criticisms. I liked the references to religion early on, but I was disappointed that it wasn’t addressed more.
The political aspect of the book really reminded me that it was published in the 1980s. Not all bad, but it definitely dated the story.
I’m frustrated about one bit at the very end, and again it’s about religion. Card creates a new religion, and it apparently takes off, but there’s really no reasoning given for its huge popularity, and as described, it seems to be one small ritual, not a full-blown religion. The way he persisted in talking about it was a real turn-off to me. I’m guessing it’s set-up for the next book in the series, but it feels tacked on and awkward in this book. He either needed to explore it more or take it out. This was almost enough to sour the book for me, but really, the rest of the story shines clearly enough to overpower this. And maybe I’m alone in feeling so about this aspect of the book? Or maybe my opinion will change if/when I read book 2, Speaker for the Dead?
Rating: 4.75 stars
Ender’s Game won both the Hugo and the Nebula award.
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