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Monday, February 18, 2008

Ender's Game


Author: Orson Scott Card
Challenges: YA Challenge, Sci-Fi Experience, Margaret A. Edwards Challenge
Rating: 4.5/5

Ender is a gifted kid. Really, really gifted. How gifted? At the age of 11, the fate of humankind rests on his ability to command an army.

This book is a study in army psychology as Ender is recruited at the tender age of 6 for the elite Battle School, where children are trained to fight against the Buggers, insectoid aliens who have twice invaded Earth and nearly wiped out humanity.

Ender is a genius among geniuses. Being prepped to be the commander of an army means that he is constantly up against mind games and impossible odds meant to force out his brilliance. His happiness is never is a part of the equation, so Ender spends a lot of time lonely, suffering, and in pain.

Ender has to fight for acceptance in his peer group, and before he has even had to time to enjoy the tenuous new friendships before he is promoted ahead of his classmates to one of the Battle School's armies, where he has to fight to prove himself yet again. Eventually, he is promoted to the commander of a new army, where he the rules are constantly changed to make the battles nearly impossible for Ender to win.

Large parts of the book are taken up by detailed descriptions of the null gravity battles that the students spent their times fighting. For this, and other reasons, this book reminds me of one of my favorite sci-fi classics, Starship Troopers. (Other similarities: Bugs in ST, Buggers in Ender's Game, similar philosophies about warfare).

For example:

He slid forward along the star, hooked his feet on the lip, and flipped himself up to the top wall, then rebounded down to E toon's star. In a moment he was leading them down against the south wall. They rebounded in near perfect unison and came up behind the two stars that Carn Carby's soldiers were defending. It was like cutting butter with a hot knife. Rabbit Army was gone, just a little cleanup left to do.

I really really enjoyed the majority of this book. I was hooked into it (it kept up me up reading late the other night). Ender is a interesting character, and the way he develops into a leader through his many trials is fascinating. The mind games they play on him are relentless, and even when forced to do things he finds abhorrent, he finds a way to keep himself from losing his humanity.

My only quibble came with the ending. In my head, I had the ending all worked out, and then I felt kind of let down by the direction it ultimately took. Despite that, I will be picking up the sequels at some point, because I want to see what happens next to Ender.

8 comments:

Chris said...

Well, Orson Scott Card just happens to be my favorite author, so I'm so glad you enjoyed this one! My favorite book of his is the sequel to this one, Speaker for the Dead. But be warned, next time you meet Ender he's fully grown. You can also go with the Shadow Series which starts with Ender's Shadow...that book retells Ender's Game through the eyes of Bean and it's awesome too. You can't go wrong with Orson Scott Card though...I've read nearly every book of his and everything the man writes is good! Glad you enjoyed EG!

Kim L said...

chris-I'm looking forward to reading Speaker for the Dead. I'm not quite sure what to expect from it, but I'm hoping I enjoy it! I like his writing style.

Becky said...

OSC is one of my favorites as well. I love, love, love his work. I hope you enjoy Speaker for the Dead. I loved it. It is very different from Ender's Game, but different in a good way. They are both excellent novels.

Framed said...

I bought both "Ender's Shadow" and "Speaker for the Dead" because I liked "Ender's Game" so well. He also wrote a fantasy that I loved "Enchantment." I have a couple more of his books to read that are not sci fi. He really is a good author.

Nymeth said...

Another great review of this book...I really must read it soon!

You've made me curious with that comment about the ending...hopefully I'll find out what you mean soon enough.

I second Framed's recommendation of Enchantment...it's a wonderful book!

Kim L said...

becky-I'm hoping I like it. I loved so many things about Ender's Game... so if the next book is good too, then hopefully I'll like it even better.

framed-I agree. I think he is a great writer, and very creative too.

nymeth-yeah I don't want to give away the ending, but if you read it, I'll be curious to hear what you think of it as well.

Debi said...

Great review, Kim! You know, I never really got far enough in my head to even contemplate how the book might end...I was just so emotionally invested in it that the "thinking" part of me was just taking a back seat.

Nymeth said...

I have read this book now, and the ending was actually my favourite thing about it! Well, the very last chapter. I'm not sure if by ending you mean that or what came before. I'd love to hear why you were let down and why it made me look at the whole book in a new way, but I don't want anyone to accidentally stumble upon spoilers...so I could e-mail you if you're interested in discussing it.