Well – I managed it! One book in one week – only 51 more (is as many weeks) to go!
Don’t worry – this review contains very few spoilers, so if you’re inspired to read the book, the storyline won’t be ruined for you.
This week’s reading was Orson Scott Card’s Ender’s Game – a captivating science fiction novel about a young boy who defies all odds in an attempt to save the world. Andrew “Ender” Wiggins is 6 years old when the book begins, and he is hand selected to attend the prestigious Battle School – a school that aims at training the world’s elite troops, officers and commanders. We know – although Ender does not – that he has been selected to follow in the footsteps of the “greatest commander” from an intergalactic war, and is promoted as the possible savior of Earth and humankind. Ender comes up against many difficulties – training at the Battle School, the treatment from his teachers and fellow students – but his biggest trial is his own self doubt, and the limitations he places upon himself.
Armed with nothing more than his own drive to succeed (and an ample amount of brains and intuition), Ender rises through the ranks of the Battle School, mastering (beyond anyone’s expectations) every task thrown his way. Ender is graduated early from the Battle School, and sent to Command School, where he is being shaped to lead the International Fleet in their long-standing war with an alien race. Ender’s innate leadership abilities – coupled with his superior and unorthodox battle tactics – lead to him become the greatest tool the I.F. has ever seen.
Card’s story is captivating, surprising, and frightening at times. It’s easy to forget that Ender and his peers at the Battle School (as well as his plotting genius siblings back home) are only children, and young children at that. All their experiences, all their emotions, and the lives they are fated to lead are inconceivable and incomprehensible to those of us who experienced a childhood. Ender is not only expected to shoulder the great responsibility of being a troop (complete with the knowledge that he must take life), he is being asked to command others to not only take life, but sacrifice their own. The reader sees a young boy struggling with and against his nature – he is a genius, a superior tactician, and has the ability to save the world, and yet he is still a child, with the desire to be kind and innocent.
I loved this book – it was a fantastic way to start off my reading challenge! The story was easy (and enjoyable) to read, and I found myself being sucked into Ender’s life – sympathizing with his fears, his sorrow, his anger, and his excitements. The political backdrop of Card’s novel – the war between worlds, as well as the tension between allied countries on the planet – is exceptionally interesting, and contributes an underlying tension in Ender’s life. The first half of the book sees Ender at the Battle School – this was my favorite part of the novel. Watching Ender battle other students in the battle room, his teachers in the classroom, and his own nature, made Ender a character that a reader could not only sympathize with, but care about. This portion of the book was interesting, exciting, funny at times, and terrifying at others. The second half of the book, particularly right after Ender leaves Battle School, drags a bit, but the story turns around to be exciting and dramatic. A surprising plot twist left my jaw dropped as a read and re-read the climax of Card’s novel.
I recommend this book to anyone looking for a great story. While I may enjoy sci-fi movies and TV shows, I’m not really a fan of sci-fi books (I prefer historical fiction and fantasy). I only chose this book because I am looking forward to the movie, but I am so happy I did choose it! Now, I know some people are going to look at this review and say, “sounds interesting, but sci-fi isn’t really my thing” – Ender’s Game will change your mind, I promise!
Your turn – if you read Ender’s Game with me (or have read it in the past), please comment with your thoughts on Card’s novel. Remember, I’m trying to promote a “book club” kind of atmosphere, and would love to hear your thoughts and feelings – even if you disagree 100% with my assessment. If you are curious about my feelings on something specific – just ask.