Title: Ender’s Game (Book 1 in Ender)
Author: Orson Scott Card
Publisher: Tor Science Fiction
Release Date: July 15, 1994
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 the world survives, that is.
I can’t believe that I haven’t read this book previously. I know that I mainly read young adult fantasy, but I have read science fiction before, and loved it. This is no exception. It was phenomenal, leaving me breathless with anticipation and emotion for the characters, especially Ender. The entire world is different in this book, and so in order to read it, your mindset has to change. Because in this book, a six-year-old is considered a soldier, a commander even. But yet the twisted little mind games that go on are freakish, shocking, and amazing. At the same time that I felt understanding for the reasoning, I disagreed completely, and that was before I even knew the whole story! Everything is limited by Ender’s perspective, other than small excerpts from adults’ points of view, and so the ending especially was upsetting; by seeing everything through Ender’s eyes, he is the one that the reader is most attuned to and has the most affinity with, and so I at least took on a protective stance as a reader. I couldn’t believe what was going on, and yet it seemed completely realistic because of the author’s insightful and attentive detail to human reaction, thought, and interaction. The best part about this book had to be how everything that occurred within it, I could picture so clearly because of the similarity to reality and the very human-ness that the characters have. No one can accuse these characters of being flat. Even if they seem one-dimensional at first, like Peter and Valentine do, you come to see pretty quickly how deep their characters extend, coming to life on their own.
Other than the characters, the book was still amazing. The detail was amazing, and I was completely absorbed by this other world, this future Earth. It was strange at first to understand certain things, like the students’ desks, but the way the author wove details like these into the story made it possible to understand them quickly and clearly. They were accepted things, explanations unnecessary. The only devices and places that needed explanation were the things that Ender needed to come to understand because they were strange to him, and so the reader learned along with the main character, perfectly in sync. Additionally, the plot was intense. The simple majesty of Battle School, and the fact that it was so normal for the kids there, an honor, is incredible. It was stuff like that that was difficult to accept as a reader, but soon became second nature to absorb as I continued to read. With every foreign concept, new technology, I became more a part of Ender’s world. The author couldn’t have done a better job.
Needless to say, I highly recommend this book, even if you don’t like sci-fi. All you need is a sense of adventure and a bit of empathy, and you are well on your way to becoming a fan of Ender and his world. With the way the book ends, I’m sure that anyone who reads this book will want to read the rest in the quintet, as well as the other series that has to do with Ender, and to watch the movie. All of these are on my to-do list! So I hope you read this book – As one of the last books I read in 2013, it was AMAZING, and I look forward to the rest of the series.
**Note: I only recommend this book to readers over the age of 13 due to violence and somewhat shocking concepts of violence (i.e. child soldiers).