on February 28, 2007
I'm not a huge fan of s-f, but I have a very wide range of favorite authors/books. My favourite authors range from Tom Clancy to Aleksandr Solzhenitsyn; Chuck Palahniuk to Michael Chrichton. This book is, bar none, my favourite book ever. I first read this book 13 years ago when I was 12 and I reread it at least once a year. It is a brilliant look into the inner workings of extremely gifted children that becomes a heartwrenching portrait of a boy whose intense compassion for his enemies is both his greatest advantage and his most self-desructive personality trait. When I first read this book, it was so engrossing that it kept me, a 12 year old boy, inside for 3 days during the summer at my cottage on Lake Huron. The book was in my hand non-stop until I turned the last page. If you haven't read this book, shame on you and fork over ten bucks for the best damn read you'll have this year!
Ender Wiggin is a very unusual boy -- he's a brilliant tactician, a genius, and a despised "third" in a future that only allows two children. He's also six years old.
And despite the fact that Orson Scott Card's sci-fi classic is about a little boy learning how to be a warrior, "Ender's Game" is a pretty gripping and sometimes grim adventure story. The descriptions of children being taught out how to be cold-blooded warriors is pretty creepy, but the well-developed future world that Card comes up with is pretty awesome.
After a fight with a gang of bullies, Ender Wiggin is approached by an army officer who wants him to join the elite Battleschool, where kid geniuses become soldiers -- basically because aliens are about to attack Earth AGAIN and may end up wiping out the human race. His brother Peter is too wild and cruel, and his beloved sister Valentine is too mild-mannered.
Ender accepts, and quickly finds himself in a dog-eat-dog space school where he soon becomes loathed for the special treatment the teachers occasionally give him -- when they aren't observing his every move. And it soon becomes obvious that Ender has a natural ability that exceeds that of most of the Battleschool recruits: he instinctively knows how to outmaneuver his opponents and protect himself in a fight, even if he annoys some of the "army" commanders who don't like being outshone.
Back on Earth, his brother and sister try to alter the increasingly unstable politics of Earth by subtle manipulation of the public, a situation that may bring the ruthless Peter into greater power. And as Ender reaches the end of his training, he faces both the buggers and the knowledge of what he is capable of.
"Ender's Game" is kind of an unusual space opera, because the actual war between humans and buggers is not front-and-center until the last act of the story. Up until then, it's about following Ender and his equally unusual siblings as they develop prematurely into adulthood -- these are genius kids who can reshape entire worlds, but you're not really sure that they SHOULD.
Card writes in a detailed but brisk style, with pretty realistic dialogue and some ugly dark spots (the description of Peter flaying a squirrel... for no reason). Ender's time at Battle School and Command School feel rather slow at times, only for things to blossom in the final laps of the novel -- Card suddenly turns all our feelings and expectations on their heads. The tragedy of children turned into soldiers becomes even more tragic as we discover what the war is actually all about.
As you'd expect from Fascist Hogwarts In Space, there are a lot of kids at Battle School who are developed to certain degrees. But the center of the story is Ender himself -- and despite being a tactical genius with loads of natural ability, Ender never seems like a Wesley Crusher. Like a boy destined to be a Spartan warrior, his inborn skills are what will keep him from ever finding peace. His childhood is sacrificed for war.
The other part of the story rests on Peter and Valentine -- Valentine is too nice, while Peter is gradually revealed to be a ruthless genius who works anything and anyone for his goals, which may or may not be self-serving. It's oddly fun to see the growing influence of "Demosthenes" and "Locke" on the cruel government.
"Ender's Game" is an intelligent, gripping space opera with an undercurrent of intense tragedy -- it's kind of slow at times, but the strong writing and intriguing main trio keep it afloat.
on July 5, 2013
I originally read this book in high school English class. Being forced in school ruins the experience, you're not allowed to take what you want from the book, instead you're forced to analyze it in meaningless ways. Until I got to the end. Without giving anything away, the ending was the connection to a small part of my life at the time, playing Starcraft. Ten years later it was still the one thing I remembered about the book and is the reason I bought it on Kindle.
In the years since high school I've experienced a lot of sci-fi rooted in reality; Starcraft, Halo, Gears of War. They always tend to have one thing in common, lots of technology and science. Ender's Game is different in this way, although its undoubtedly Sci-fi its told in a completely different way. It's a very personal story, a story of a boy forced to grow up in a way he doesn't want to, for reasons he doesn't fully understand. The Sci-fi is in the background, you know it's there but it's nothing but the landscape the real story takes place in. I'm very glad I decided to give it a proper chance.
on May 19, 2013
I expected something like the Rho Ship and Hunger Games mixture, but I was wrong. It is about special children in particular Ender. You cannot help but feel for his frustration at the bullying and his courage to defend himself. And yet there he is in a military school learning how to become a leader to defend the world from invaders when he knows that adults couldn't do it. You sympathize with the dilemmas and ethical issues that he is forced into. You forget at times that he is only a child. Interesting how three children from the same family all have a special trait which have an impact on the history of Earth. Story captivates right from the beginning and you cannot put the book down. Nice plot double twist at the end which opens the door for the future expansion of the story. Well worth while reading especially knowing that a movie is coming out. Isn't it obvious who Harrison Ford will play in the movie! Mazer?
on February 19, 2006
For years I've wanted to read this book; it is considered one of the classic works of SF. Recently I did, and surprisingly enough, I wasn't disappointed.
It tells the story of Andrew Wiggin, the Third child of a family living in a future, overpopulated world where families are restricted to only two offspring; except where traits of extraordinary intelligence in the youngsters leads the government to believe that a budding military genius might be in the offing, one who can lead the armies of the Earth in a hopeless battle against a ruthless Alien species. Andrew, nicknamed Ender by his loving sister Valentine and despised by his sadistic brother Peter, shows so much promise that he is whisked away at the tender age of six to an orbiting Battle School by military men unsure whether he will even survive the training, let alone actual battle.
While author OSC maintains a sparse descriptive style with the surroundings, he concentrates on filling out Ender into a living, breathing person of many facets who we feel deeply for as he is thrown into a grinding military program out to wring the last bit of humanity from him.
I loved how easily this book read, while at the same time presenting some serious ethical issues and allowing us to truly enter the mind of a child progeny and experience his arduous journey along side him. I'm not the only one as well; my wife, curious as to what was keeping my nose in the book for long stretches at a time, perused the first few pages and then delved headlong into the book right behind me. I ended up fighting for reading time just so I could finish before her!
Ender's Game is a terrific read; being touching, rollicking, and insightful all at the same time.
on June 11, 2013
This book is amazing. I'm re-reading it and totally absorbed just like when I was a kid seeing it with fresh eyes. It paints a great picture and really lets you relate to the characters w/ some self-reflection by Ender as well as the omniscient points of view of the "big brother-like" administration.
Excellent for understanding government propaganda and the mind of a (brilliant) child reacting to traumatic life events.
Coming out with a movie in the Fall/Winter of 2013.
on August 9, 2015
Some time in the future, humanity encounters an alien race known as “buggers” and faces two disastrous wars. In preparation for an anticipated third attack, mankind decides to pick the very best of its youngest, and train them to become perfectly unbeatable militia. In “Ender's Game”, Orson Scott Card tells us the story of such a time period and of one boy genius in particular: Ender Wiggin - who rose the ranks, out-manoeuvring computer games and zero gravity battle simulations.
Quite possibly the best part about this story was the plausibility of the main protagonist. A hero is not presented to us to accept without question. We see a weak boy stand up to a sadistic older brother and a class bully. We see a small boy fight a mean classmate and a cruel commander. We see a strategic boy use everything from a common enemy to an appeal for help to make friends in a strange world. And at every step of the way, we are allowed to follow his most private thoughts and reasoning for his behaviour, as every breath becomes a small fight for survival till the next breath comes along.
Equally captivating is how this story constantly shifts tones, and presents characters - sometimes as helpless 6-year-olds plucked out of their homes, and sometimes as brilliant individuals that all of mankind is right to pin its final hopes on. Every boy goes through the gamut of emotions from heartbreaking homesickness to glorious victory. Adding a touch of grounded reality to this fantasy is the cyberspace world of Peter and Valentine as Locke and Demosthenes; a political story that runs its arc and meets its counterpart military story of Ender in the end.
The final days on the mysterious planet Eros bring together - in a grand conclusion - the epic tale of Mazer Rackham, the much dreaded Third Invasion, and a secret message at The End of the World. From ages 6 to about 11, this is the story of Andrew “Ender” Wiggin; the greatest battle commander; the “Speaker for the Dead”.
I bought the paperback. A paperback is not the easiest thing to wield, so I also bought the kindle version. I always make sure that it is Text-to-Speech Enabled and it helps to be X-Ray Enabled.
Then to my surprise the kindle version offered Whispersync for Voice so I could not pass the opportunity. The Whispersync starts out on the first page of the book and bypasses the introduction. I read the introduction from the paperback and found it be backing up from where the kindle started.
The kindle version also has the beginning chapter from the next book in the series (Speaker for the Dead) this section also works with the Whispersync.
The reason I mentioned the introduction is because it is as important as the book it's self. It gives a background of the author and a quick how to write a novel course. Orson Scott Card said that the introduction can be passed but I would not do it.
I know this is not really focused on the military; however he nails many of the situations. From commander's intent to training and target of opportunity I felt that I was in the BNCOC and ANCOC while reading the story.
The story takes place in the future. The enemy attacked humankind twice and maybe a third time is on the horizon. We are looking for a great leader as the ones form the past to carry us to victory. The question is how to go about finding and preparing the person for the future. We are more interested in Andrew "Ender" Wiggin's relationship to family, and the people around him. The big picture is finding out whom / what we are.
on September 10, 2012
Andrew "Ender" Wiggin kept his government-issued monitor on until the age of six. That was a year longer than most. Many of the other kids are jealous, especially his older brother, Peter. When the bad boys at school corner him, Ender does what he has to. Shortly thereafter, Colonel Graff arrives at the Wiggin home and offers Ender the chance to attend Battle School.
It has been about eighty years since the last war with the buggers. The buggers almost managed to wipe humanity out of existence. Since then, the government has been trying to make officers for the next war; a war that could happen at any time. Battle School is where children are trained to become commanders. All the children are organized into armies and they compete in zero gravity war games.
Unknown to Ender (but well known to readers), Graff intends to make six-year-old Ender into the best battle commander in history. The future of humanity could very well depend on Ender becoming a perfect killing machine. Ender is bright, in perfect health, highly intelligent, and imaginative. To Ender, winning is everything. (To quote part of the book: "Ender Wiggin isn't a killer. He just wins - thoroughly.") To some others in the military, Graff is often too cruel to the children, especially to Ender. But Graff is doing what he believes is necessary for the preservation of the human race. Ender realizes early on that Graff is isolating him from the kids by using every low-down trick in the book - and several NOT in the book. The mind games are nothing new to Ender. He was used to dealing with Peter, who is a master manipulator. As Ender thinks up more and more amazing strategies to win the war games, he is also shaping himself into the very weapon Graff wants so badly.
***** FIVE STARS! This is one of the most impressive novels of our time (imho). The author takes a nascent child (Ender) and places him in a military school to (basically) sink or swim. Due to the exigencies of an upcoming war, the person in charge of Battle School (Graff) is unstinting in his mistreatment of all the children.
This story has already become required reading in some high schools. Teachers enjoy having their students debate on whether Graff is guilty of mistreatment of children or if his actions are justifiable. Another point of debate is the emotional and psychological toll on young Ender.
Though the story mainly focuses on Ender, some time is given to his brother and sister who are still back at home. Those Wiggin siblings are as intelligent as Ender, but instead of strategy they have more manipulative and/or persuasive abilities.
All-in-all, this is an excellent story for Science Fiction fans of any age. (Fans of Robert A. Heinlein will especially enjoy this tale. The meticulous thoughts and beyond-his-time-ideas can be found in this story too.) Un-Freaking-Believable! *****
Reviewed by Detra Fitch of Huntress Reviews.
This isn't the first time I've read this novel, but I'm engrossed and impressed by it every time I do. The subject matter covers the human condition, the ethics of war, what it means to be sentient, and what it means to be a child or an adult, touches on what people are willing to do when ther are (or at least feel they are) backed into a corner, and it does it all in a spectacularly entertaining way.
I have to admit, as much as I don't like the author as a person, the man sure can tell a good story!
Though the book is called Ender's Game, the story does not just follow Ender, but also gives us a glimpse into the lives of his siblings, at first deemed failures according to the purpose that somebody else gave them, but who find their own feet and end up changing the world in their own way, but a no less profound way than Ender himself did. Their stories are separate from Ender's and yet are still tied up in the events of his life, playing their parts.
I hear a lot of people dislike the use of the term 'buggers' for the alien race in the novel, saying that it's too reminiscent of, well, our use of the word 'bugger' for someone who engages in sodomy. I've heard people say that it's a childish use of the word and inappropriate to what's going on. Frankly, I think it serves its purpose well there. Name one society in human history that has not tried to denegrate their enemies, given them cruel and childish epithets in an attempt to raise local moral and to inspire a feeling of confidence in "our side." Ender himself thinks early on in the book that the buggers probably have their own pejorative terms for humans. It's the way we work. It's not pretty, it's not kind, but it's one of the ways we band together in times of crisis. The use of the word 'bugger' doesn't seem out of place at all, and I think a lot of these people have to remember that just because we have the same word, it doesn't mean that the words have the same meaning.
The book isn't perfect, though. No book is. Sometimes I wonder if Orson Scott Card wrote about child geniuses partly because they create interest and partly because he simply didn't know how to write interesting "normal" children. Having genius children sound like adults is a good way to write intelligent conversation between characters without having to suffer the accusation that you can't write realistic children. I've seen a few people fall into this trap. Card avoids some of this by having the children still give out fairly childish insults, like "fart-eater," but some of the feeling of avoiding writing real kids by writing genius "adult-sounding" kids is still there.
Still, I wouldn't pass up reading this for anything. It's a wonderful book, exploring many aspects of the philosophy of humanity and war while not bogging down the story in meaningless speculative conversations. Highly recommended novel. If you haven't read it yet, you ought to read it soon.