Ender’s Game – Ender’s Saga #1 – Orson Scott Card

Ender's Game

Release date: First publised: 1985
Publisher: Tor
Age Group: Adult
Pages: 324
Format: Paperback
Source: Bought

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. 
Ender’s Game is the winner of the 1985 Nebula Award for Best Novel and the 1986 Hugo Award for Best Novel.

Review:

I had heard a lot about ‘Ender’s Game’ by Orson Scott Card before, but as with most classics, I hadn’t been able to read it so far. When I was visiting New York however I saw it in a book store and felt compelled to finally give it a try. I am usually more of a Fantasy fan than a Science Fiction fan when it comes to books, especially when space opera is the general theme. I haven’t read many that I really like, let alone loved. Ender’s Game was the first Space Opera novel I really loved. Though I have to attribute that to the deep psychological feel of the book more than anything else. ‘Ender’s Game’ was heartbreaking but brilliant.

Ender is a character that will probably appeal to a lot of people. He’s smart, ok, scratch that, he’s a genius, he has a level of understanding that far exceeds his age and at other times, he’s just a little kid missing his sister. It’s easy to feel compassion for him, especially since he’s the victim of bullying for the most part of the novel. But somehow he knows exactly how to deal with it. At first, it’s clumsy, using violence, but gradually he begins to think of strategies, trying to undermine his enemy instead of hurting them. That makes him all the more brilliant. It is heartbreaking how most of this attitude, and in general how strong he is when it comes to taking a hit mentally, is because he has been bullied by his brother his whole life. I’m pretty sure his brother loves him, but he’s just afraid to show it because Ender is a Third, the third child in the family, where there normally can only be two. Ender sees this from his own perspective, remembering mostly all the horrid things Peter ever did and drawing his conclusions based on only that. It broke my heart.
I have to admit though that Peter was pretty scary. It’s like he is a beast stuck inside a child’s body, with a kind part that’s in constant struggle with that beast. At different times in the novel, different parts of him win and we see that there’s more to Peter than meets the eye at first.
Valentine is the opposite of Peter, equally smart, but with a kind side that wins most battles against the beast. That’s what appeals to Ender so much. Ender is stuck in between these two personalities with equal amounts of beast and kindness. He’s smart enough to know he wants to be the good guy and he sees that goodness in his sister. He wants the kindness to win, as it does with her. But Ender is his own person and whatever he wants, he’ll always be Ender, not Valentine and not Peter.

What’s so great about this book is the depth. In every aspect the author has succeeded in creating so much more than in your usual book. We get to know so many hidden parts about the main characters throughout the book, that it makes this an interesting journey into the psyche of human beings. We also learn so much about the alien invasion, especially at the end, things that change your perspective again and again. And Ender plays a big role in this. He’s not one to just accept the things they throw in front of him. He’s smarter than that.

If you think about it, this is a pretty cruel book. Ender is only a child but the stuff they put him through and the action he takes under that pressure is horrible. For a 6 year old he’s done some terrifying stuff. But that’s just what they want from him, and that’s the real sad thing. Ender is never able to be a child. In a way he was programmed to never have a childhood. He was destined to grow up fast and hard. The author had a heart wrenching and sad way of describing this, through Ender’s eyes, but also through the eyes of his superiors. They are the ones that push him, that take his childhood from him and even they have their doubts sometimes, wondering if they are pushing him too far.
This book was equally parts brilliant and sad. It tells a fascinating story about a possible alien invasion seen through the eyes of a genius child, ‘bred’ to save the human race. It also portrays the lengths humans will go through to save their asses. Even sacrificing a child’s life and morals to get what they want.

The writing is beautiful, compelling and easy to read. It won’t take you long to get through this book, the story itself is great and the writing makes it all come to life wonderfully. If you want an intelligent book, love Space Opera and you’re not afraid of a book that challenges your moral believes, than ‘Ender’s Games’ must be your next read.

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Posted on October 9, 2013, in Orson Scott Card and tagged , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , . Bookmark the permalink. Leave a comment.

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