Monday, July 1, 2013

Ender's Game: a review

By Orson Scott Card
http://www.hatrack.com/
Info: Tor Science Fiction, copyright 1994, 324 pages)

Once again, the Earth is under attack. Alien "buggers" are poised for a final assault. The survival of the human species depends on a military genius who can defeat the buggers. But who? Ender Wiggin. Brilliant. Ruthless. Cunning. A tactical and strategic master. And a child. Recruited for military training by the world government, Ender's childhood ends the moment he enters his new home: Battleschool. Among the elite recruits Ender proves himself to be a genius among geniuses. In simulated war games he excels. But is the pressure and loneliness taking its toll on Ender? Simulations are one thing. How will Ender perform in real combat conditions? After all, Battleschool is just a game. Right? 

~Barnes & Nobel Description~

A review in 10 words (or thereabouts): A war of adults, an army of children.

The Breakdown
Ender Wiggin's life started out with troubles.  He was the third child of his family when, legally only two were allowed.  His older brother Peter was terrifyingly vindictive and cruel.  And life at school was no walk in the park.  So when a government agency recruits Ender for training at Battle School to save the human race against an alien race that threatened to destroy Earth in the past, Ender agrees.  And he thrives, proving himself to be a master tactician and commander in the many games the teachers put him through.  But Ender soon realizes he is part of a bigger game.  A deadly game.  And the survival of the Earth is resting on his shoulders.

The Awesome
From the science fiction angle, this book is truly amazing.  Sure there are aliens and space ships.  But the core of the story is a philosophical tale about human nature.  About good versus evil.  About the loss of childhood and the murky waters of the greater good.  All of that wrapped up in an engaging, fast-paced, emotional story about a young boy.

The Not So Awesome
This is a hard book.  It often left me literally hurting.  It asks and raises big questions and drives you absolutely crazy throughout.  These are children.  The teachers are evil.  And there seems to be no reprieve.  Which, of course, is the purpose of the story, so it was only not awesome because it was so awesomely executed.

I can't believe it took me this long to pick up what many consider a premiere science fiction classic for teens.  I'll be very interested to see how they portray this particular story on the silver screen (http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=5nm7p8cf5dg) .  If it leaves me squirming in my seat, uncomfortable, I will consider it well done.  Ender is a reluctant hero, and I think that's what makes him so appealing.  And I would definitely recommend this to both scifi lovers and haters.


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