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Ender’s Game, by Orson Scott Card: a Novel review

Synopsis:

Earth has been attacked by an insect-like alien species called the Formics.  Having mastered interplanetary spaceflight before the attack, Earth is able to locate a Formic base on an asteroid called Eros… the discovery and original attack turn into an all-out war.  A war that humans narrowly win due to Mazer Rackham making a spectacular hit to the main ship.

To stave off another invasion the peoples of Earth create the International Fleet.  Their mission is to train gifted children to become commanders to fight in the next Formic War.

Andrew “Ender” Wiggin is what the children of Earth call a “Third”.  When most families are only allowed two children due to overpopulation the Wiggin family is granted an option for a third child due to the fact that their first two children showed such promise for Battle School but fell just short of qualification due to other issues (Peter Wiggins has sociopathic tendencies and Valentine is too sympathetic and emotional).  The government hopes that Ender will be different.

And he proves himself at the age of six after his tracking chip is removed.  After an incident with a fellow student the IF Battle School Headmaster Colonel Hyrum Graff comes and collects Ender sending him into Battle School as one of the youngest ever attendees.

Things don’t go well for Ender at Battle School.  Smaller and younger than any of the other students he is bullied and teased just as he was on Earth.  Strategically isolated, Ender’s situation becomes nearly unbearable to the young boy. It is only when he begins to show that he can hold his own that he begins to earn some respect.  When he is unexpectedly promoted to the head of Dragon Army (an army that hasn’t existed in years due to rumors of being “cursed”) Ender must make a choice…

Does he stay and fight like he’s always been taught?  Or does he leave Battle School and the impending war behind him?  What secrets is the International Fleet hiding behind all of the mystery and intrigue…and battle games that are going on at the school?

General Information:

-Genre: Science-Fiction, Coming of Age Story, Military

-Author: Orson Scott Card

-Number of Pages: 324

-Main Characters: Andrew “Ender” Wiggin, Peter Wiggin, Valentine Wiggin, Alai, Bean, Dink Meeker, Petra Arkanian, Colonel Hyrum Graff, Mazer Rackham, Major Anderson

-Where to Read: support local booksellers (many can order items that may not be in stock) or look for it at your local library!  If you enjoy audiobooks look for it wherever you get your audiobooks such as Audible or Libby (through your local library)…

-Page of Reference in RP1: 62

Review (contains spoilers):

The author aside…this is one of my favorite science-fiction books.  I’ve read it several times due to the dystopian nature of the novel paired with the moral dilemmas that are presented in the text.

Things like:

Should children be fighting in war?  Should children be trained for war?  How much do you tell your citizens?  Where is the line between someone being a living breathing human…and someone being completely expendable?  Do the needs of the many outweigh the needs of the few?  And what is the other side of the story?  Is there another side?

So much of this story is so beyond messed up.

Its bad enough that children are being taken at the age of 9 or younger to train to fight in a war that they truly are not to be told anything about.  But then to turn around and not tell them that the simulations are real!  The tests are not just video games…they aren’t just tests.  They are actual battles.  The fleets they are commanding at the age of 12 or 13 are actual real people fighting actual real aliens….and are dying because of it.

Where is the line?

Where does the desire to be protected from an entity (that we find out was just trying to communicate but couldn’t in a way we understood and vise versa) start and end?

Who should be used to protect ourselves?

There is so much to truly think about in the book.

Ender is one of my favorite characters, and not because he is the main one though being able to see how he thinks and functions due to that is a plus.  Its because, no matter how far they push him…how far the go to make him into a robotic machine…he still holds close to his humanity.  He is the ideal candidate for what happens to him, but because he is compassionate and human, he is also most likely to be broken by what occurs.

Bean is a close second.  I’ve been told I will love the Ender’s Shadow series (I’ve never read any of the other books after this one and I’m looking forward to it now).  That series is all about Bean and what he was doing behind the scenes to help out and protect Ender.

Honestly, Card did a great job with the characters.  They all have a depth to them that is hard to achieve when you are dealing with children.  Children often come off as flat or one noted.  But even when one of the kids is mainly mean (Bonzo or Peter for example) there is always something more to them and their story.

I highly recommend this book if you ever get the chance to read it.

If you like audiobooks the Ender’s Game Alive! is the version that I recommend.  It is read by a whole cast instead of a single narrator, so it is like listening to a radio play.  It was one of the best ways to experience this book and is available only on Audible, but it is free with your subscription as an Audible Original.

Review:

Rating: 4.5 out of 5.

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