Monday, February 27, 2012

Book Review: Ender's Game by Orson Scott Card

About 15 years ago, my step-sister E, with whom I share a lot of literary likes, recommended Ender's Game to me. I bought it, but I never read it. Over the years I heard wonderful things. It was suggested for my book club 2-3 times but never picked. I wanted to read it, I knew I would probably like it, but I just couldn't ever read it on my own. Finally, we had the right mix of people at book club and it was chosen! And I did love it.

Ender is an extremely precocious 6-year-old who has been chosen to be trained to possibly be the next great military leader, hopefully on par with Alexander the Great (who was a General when he was only 16 after all.) Earth has been attacked twice by aliens they call the buggers, and while it did survive, everyone knew that our technology, weaponry, and tactics are not up to par with the buggers'. And so Ender is the solution to the tactical problem. He is taken from his family to a battle school in space, where he is an outcast, but also a brilliant tactician, rapidly coming up with new methods and skills and navigational moves. But will he survive the mental games? Will he be in time? What will the buggers bring to the table next time? Can Ender really save everyone? What will happen to him, and to us all?

This book of late has been marketed as a young adult novel, although it was originally published as an adult novel. I can see how it would be a great book for high schoolers to read and analyze. It was a terrific book discussion for our book club! The questions of morality and psychology in the book are top notch. Is it moral to basically take this child and make him into a killing machine? Even if it will save all of mankind? What about war in general? I don't want to spoil the book so I can't even discuss a lot of the issues that arise, but it has been a topic of discussion in my house for several days as well.

The book is a fast read, I zipped through it in about 5 hours. Even though the short story was written in 1977 and the novel published in 1985, it doesn't feel very dated (except for references to a Second Warsaw Pact). Normally I not only don't read science fiction, but I avoid it. Ender's Game however transcends genre. It was a terrific read that I would recommend to anyone.

I bought this book over 15 years ago.


Jeane said...

I loved this book. Wonderful that you've finally read it. That's a long time to sit on your shelf!

Carolyn Abiad said...

I love Ender's Game. I think classifying it as sci-fi puts people off. It really isn't what I consider hard sci-fi, besides the fact that it takes place in space. Ender could just as easily have been at boot camp on earth and had the same experience.

Jillian said...

I used to hate scifi novels, but my brother and guy friends pushed me to read this one. They keep saying they love it so much! And they're not even "readers!" So I had to read it. I loved it. Since I read this I've been open to other scifi novels. Glad you loved it!