It’s the distant future, and Earth is recovering from a war with an alien race of bugs. Earth narrowly won that war, and ever since, they’ve been preparing for their next encounter with the alien species, determined that they will win decisively, once and for all. Earth’s strategy? To create and train young geniuses as commanders for the next war. Ender Wiggin, a boy of six years old, is the latest recruit by the military, the last hope for Earth. Will Ender, with all his battle skills and intelligence, be able to save the world?
A thought-provoking science fiction classic that has aged well and is easily enjoyed by people of all ages and backgrounds.
It’s hard to talk about Ender’s Game without talking about the author’s outspoken (and distasteful) views on gays and gay marriage, so I quickly want to say that I do not agree with him in the least. It should go without saying that just because I read and review a book on my blog does not mean I subscribe to the author’s beliefs, whatever they may be. But it probably needs to be said every once in awhile, so there it is. With that out of the way, then, let’s get onto the review.
Ender’s Game is a smart novel about a young boy who is forced to abandon his childhood, to grow up much too fast. There’s a lot of pressure on Ender’s shoulders—specifically, the weight of the entire world. The book goes into the seemingly sadistic tactics the adults around Ender use to groom him into the perfect commander. They isolate him and take away any and all sources of pleasure in his life. It’s so heartbreaking to see what Ender, just a child, is forced to go through, yet it’s hard to argue with the results. They shape Ender into an amazing commander, but the question that the reader is forced to ask is whether the ends justify the means, especially with the twists in the end of the novel.
While the perspective of the adults around Ender is certainly interesting in Ender’s Game, it’s Ender himself who is the main narrator. The reader gets to see Ender grapple with what he is becoming, worried that he is becoming the bully he most despises. His voice is mature, yet believable—after all, he is a genius. His inner monologue is really fascinating, as he must face issues of ethics and complex adult moral themes, which makes this book just as appropriate for adults as teens.
Much of Ender’s Game relies on strategy, on how Ender defeats the increasingly difficult odds he’s facing time and again. This could have very easily been boring; in books, I often skim long action sequences because it’s not usually what I read for. But the battles Ender participates in are so much more than just the action; the reader sees his brilliance as he always finds his way out of no-win situations. The author did a great job making Ender believable, talented, and emotionally deep all at the same time.
If you’ve brushed Ender’s Game off because it’s science fiction, it’s worth reevaluating that decision. This book is so much more than its genre; it has themes that readers will want to think about long after the last pages are turned. The author’s distasteful views aren’t reflected in this book at all, and it’s hard to deny that this is anything but a modern classic.
Other books by Orson Scott Card: