Review: Ender's Game by Orson Scott Card

in a sentence or so: Ender is the best, brightest, youngest, and only hope for victory against the impending war against the inter-galactic foe, the buggers.

Andrew Wiggin is 6 years old when he is invited to join battle school.  he is asked to leave his parents, his loving and devoted sister Valentine, and his down-right scary and hurtful brother, Peter. Andrew, who goes by Ender, knew the government expected big things from him because he is a Third. in a world where two children are the maximum, the government asked Ender's parents to have another child to fulfill the grand expectations of the Wiggin family.  Ender accepts the invitation to go to battle school and says farewell to his family, probably forever.

once at battle school, Ender is manipulated by the teachers and is socially isolated from other students.  most importantly, Ender discovers he is the best. despite the fact he is 6 years old and on the younger side of entering battle school, he sees things in the battle room with formations and strategy that the oldest boys overlook.  Ender is clearly meant to do be a military leader and that scares him. the expectation weighs heavy on his shoulders.  even when Ender succeeds - as people expect him to - the challenges just become harder. more complicated. more isolating. more disheartening.

meanwhile back on earth, Valentine and Peter are staging their own run for success by writing politically insightful and inflammatory statements on the net. Valentine misses her brother Ender deeply. but that doesn't stop her from getting sucked in (part willingly and part unwillingly) to a master manipulation plot devised by Peter.  it is clear that all three Wiggin children are gifted in manipulation - Valentine with manipulating emotions, Peter with manipulating fear, and Ender with manipulating battle scenarios.

i had a hard time telling where this story was going.  we spend a lot of time with Ender in battle school where he struggles, succeeds, learns, grows, and develops into the leader he is expected to be.  we see bits and pieces of what Valentine and Peter are up to back on earth with their political writing and influencing domestic and worldwide policies as 11 and 14 year olds.  clearly the Wiggin children are inordinately bright, but why they are so intelligent is not addressed.  their parents are seemingly standard, so why should all three of them be extraordinary?  i appreciate social commentary and character development, but i just need a plot to propel forward in addition to those elements to hold my interest.

if i could let myself drop the "where are we going?" and "what is the point?" questions, i did enjoy the read.  the conclusion of Ender's Game was a jaw-dropper, and i was pleasantly surprised by the plot twist.  there were training exercises and free-play activities that Ender participated in while at battle school that gave insight into his motivations that were creative and thoughtful.  the whole social aspect of battle school was interesting as well - a taste of Lord of the Flies set in a futuristic space-fantasy backdrop.

fave quote: "I was afraid that I'd still love you." "I hoped that you would." "My fear, your wish - both granted."  "Ender, it really is true. We may be young, but we're not powerless.  We play by their rules long enough, and it becomes our game." (exchange between Valentine and Ender, 237)

fix er up: i became disillusioned when i felt like the plot stalemated, or when i couldn't see direction of where we were going. i imagine this is something along the lines of what Ender was probably feeling, but it was challenging to me as a reader.

title: Ender's Game
author: Orson Scott Card
genre: Dystopian, Sci-Fi

(i read this as a part of the 451 Challenge, Ember level book 1 of 3)

Lisa is a gamer, crafter, fangirl, mother, wife and unabashed nerd who is pretty ridiculous and it's best you know that up front. When she's not binge watching Netflix or crafting into the wee hours of the night, you can find her spending a lot of her time on Pinterest and Twitter.

1 comment:

  1. that is one of the reasons i liked this so much: that you were never quite sure where it was going.

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