ender’s game

Enders Game by Orson Scott Card (Through the Shelf Thursday #13)

Title: Ender’s Game
AuthorOrson Scott Card
Genre: YA Science Fiction/Fantasy
Description 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. 

Date I Finished Reading: July 24, 2013

My Rating: 4 of 5

My Review: (also on GoodreadsAmazon):

Everybody told me I needed to read this book. “One of the best books I’ve ever read”, “My all time favorite”, etc. etc.  I tried to read it about 3 years back, but couldn’t get into it.  But with the movie coming out I finally picked it up again.

The book is an interesting, fun read, and gave me lots to think about.  Under the layer of action that happens in the books Battle Room, and the trials and struggles of the main character Andrew ‘Ender’ Wiggin, Card is laying down little suggestions/questions about morality, society, and what is good and what is evil. I like a book to have at least some depth.

The character building in the book is done well for the three main characters (all siblings): Peter, Ender, and Valentine.  But other than that, most of the characters, in my opinion, are glossed over.  I would have liked a little more information or background on Col. Graff, Petra, and Mazer.  But all that being said, I was pleased to see that all of the characters played a role and helped establish the story.

The relationship between Ender and his younger sister Valentine and his older brother Peter help drive the heart and motivation of the story.  Ender absolutely loves his sister and absolutely hates his brother, and we as the readers do, too.  It brings a connection to Ender from the start.  Card does a nice job helping us understand everyone’s beliefs, struggles and ultimate goals.  I have read by others that Ender has a strong desire for violence and that turned them off in the book.  I personally did not get that from the story, and felt his motivations and decisions – which were very difficult sometimes – were explained and helped us get a full understanding of him.

Even though the relationships had a solid foundation, I struggled with the ages of the characters.  When the book starts, and Ender is carted off to Battle School, he is 6 (or abouts).  It’s not that he’s 6 that was hard to swallow, it was the dialogue and the level of communication that was taking place between Ender and his military figures or Ender and his siblings.  Card certainly helps us to understand that Ender and his siblings are all gifted intellectuals and unique, but even still, as I read the first 1/3 of the book (when Ender is still young) in my mind I was envisioning a 12 or 13 year old conversing.  The author almost forces the reader to envision the characters at older ages than they really are.  Anyway, not to nit-pick, but it was hard to keep track of.

The idea of the Battle Room is intriguing and that that is where a good portion of the action takes place.  My only issue was that I had a hard time envisioning it.  I got the jist, but Card is very thorough with his battle sequence descriptions (to his credit) that it was hard sometime to get the full picture in my head, but I wanted to.  Regardless, the scenes in the Battle Room and other simulators that are brought up in the book help to build an understanding of who Ender really is and sets the stage for future reveals.

One of the things I give Card kudos for and loved about the book was the technology that was used, and the attention to detail.  Seeing as how the book was written in 1985, Card envisions things that have actually come to pass over time.  Very impressive!  I envisioned characters using iPads and surfing the Internet forums and posting to blogs or chat rooms…in a story written almost 30 years ago.

Probably my biggest beef with the story is the nudity. It is not detailed, it is not graphic, in fact there are no specifics mentioned other than to say that people are nude, but it just felt…inappropriate.  I understand that in a military setting, the privacy a person has is limited and people become comfortable with nudity, but I don’t need to read about 6, 8, 10, or 12 year old boy being nude around his comrades, running around the halls nude, or even wrestling in the shower nude. Some may disagree, but I didn’t think it had any necessary relevance to the actual story and was mentioned WAY too often.

Aside from some enhanced dialogue for youngsters and the obsession with naked cadets, the book was a good read.  I wanted to get back to it and see what was happening.  I related to the character and his desire for a simple life, yet shoved into one where he had to sacrifice.  The themes of seclusion and the depths to go for war were very intriguing and made me want to see what was actually going to happen.  The book has some great twists and turns (two in particular) that were very satisfying and that I did not see coming.

While it is not one of the best books I have ever read, it did manage to entertain and make me think.  I will also probably pick up the sequel just to see the direction the story goes (which is becoming less and less common in my reading).

Have you read ‘Ender’s Game’?  What did you think