Saturday, June 18, 2011

Book Review: Ender’s Game by Orson Scott Card

Publisher: Tor Science Fiction, July 15, 1994 (originally published 1985)
Pages: Paperback, 324
Series: #1
Buy it on Amazon

From Goodreads: In order to develop a secure defense against a hostile alien race’s next attack, government agencies breed child geniuses and train them as soldiers. A brilliant young boy, Andrew “Ender” Wiggin lives with his kind but distant parents, his sadistic brother Peter, and the person he loves more than anyone else, his sister Valentine. Peter and Valentine were candidates for the soldier-training program but didn’t make the cut—young Ender is the Wiggin drafted to the orbiting Battle School for rigorous military training.

Ender’s skills make him a leader in school and respected in the Battle Room, where children play at mock battles in zero gravity. Yet growing up in an artificial community of young soldiers Ender suffers greatly from isolation, rivalry from his peers, pressure from the adult teachers, and an unsettling fear of the alien invaders. His psychological battles include loneliness, fear that he is becoming like the cruel brother he remembers, and fanning the flames of devotion to his beloved sister.

Is Ender the general Earth needs? But Ender is not the only result of the genetic experiments. The war with the Buggers has been raging for a hundred years, and the quest for the perfect general has been underway for almost as long. Ender’s two older siblings are every bit as unusual as he is, but in very different ways. Between the three of them lie the abilities to remake a world. If, that is, the world survives.

My Rating: (4.5/5)

Ender’s Game is one of my favorite books of all time. I thoroughly enjoyed reading this book and it helped me out of a reading funk I’d been having for a while so I suggest it if you’re having one, too. I wasn’t too sure about it when it was recommended to me, but I took a chance and I’m glad I did.
Ender is a great character, and even though he’s a young child, he’s more like a little adult. He’s a genius, but not because he spews scientific equations or anything. He’s more like a creative thinker: a sensitive strategist in every situation he’s in whether it’s figuring out how to handle school bullies or figuring out how to keep his brother from killing him. For most of the book he’s a loner though not exactly by choice and I think we can all identify with that at some point in our lives.
Both Valentine and Peter are great characters as well, and I love that Orson Scott Card goes back and forth between what Ender is doing at school and the shenanigans his siblings are conjuring at home. Peter, by the way, is the perfect villain because not only is he a genius, but also seems to sometimes be evil and sometimes alright and as Ender’s brother, you’re never sure if you can trust him.
This is a great book for lovers of science fiction but I would also recommend it to readers who haven’t reach much sci-fi before. Some of the space gravity lingo is difficult to understand but it’s usually explained very well. The aliens are not a main feature – they are mostly just referred to, so if you’re squeamish about things like that, no problem. And finally, if you love deep character development, I know you’ll love Ender, too.
[Note: Ender’s Game is the first of a series, but it’s also a great standalone book as well. The books that follow are completely different (example: the next one is set 3,000 years after this one), but of course you can indulge if you want!]


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