Ender’s Game Review

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.

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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.

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7 Comments

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7 responses to “Ender’s Game Review

  1. I’m so glad you liked the book! It is definitely a page turner.
    It seems like I prefer books of the same genre as you but since I knew Ender’s Game was being made into a movie and all my older children and husband have read the book (and series), I felt that I should finally pick it up.
    You are so right about the story not necessarily being sci-fi. It is just a great story in and of itself. Though a bit long, I think it is important to read the introduction. I felt Mr. Card’s back story was very interesting.
    Just a little aside. I found a couple typos in your post though I was not bothered by them at all. I know you wanted to get this review out before you start on your next book. 🙂

    • Ha well… no one’s perfect haha. I have to be honest – I wrote this in a hotel room after a full day out in the sun, with toddlers jumping on my bed… I basically pressed “publish” without proof reading just so I could get back to vacation! I’m sure when I read over it when I get home I’ll be kicking myself haha! Thanks for reading!

  2. Haley

    I’ve decided to do this challenge with you. I read a lot, but not necessarily anything worth reading—basically anything free on the Kindle.

    I enjoyed this book. You really got drawn into Ender’s life by being so involved with his feelings. You felt bad for the kid and how the adults were using him – to a good purpose but – cruelly. There were some parts in the beginning I didn’t quite understand (the monitor in his neck, was Ender genetically engineered?, I don’t remember hearing his “real” name until near the end) but I too loved the Battle School. I hope the movie can execute the zero gravity battles. I wasn’t a big fan of Ender’s brother and sister’s political storyline. I didn’t feel like Peter’s attitude and behavior would have proceeded the way it did. I did see the plot while in Command School coming but I am intrigued by the ending and wonder if the next books delve into the safe place Ender is looking for.

    This book reminded me of Christian Cantrell’s Containment. About a colony on Venus that relies heavily on the incredible intelligence and creativity of its youth but also uses them harshly. Goes a little over my head with some of the science but enjoyable and understandable nonetheless.

    • Oh I’m so happy you read along with me, and I’m glad you enjoyed “Ender’s Game.” I agree, I felt terrible for Ender the whole time! I don’t think he was genetically engineered (his parents had to get permission to have him since he was a “third”), but I think they implanted the monitors after they were born. I didn’t really like the brother and sister’s political story either, but it did allow the ending to wrap up nicely. I hope you’ll read the next book along with me 🙂

  3. Kathleen

    Congratulations on the first review…. Now I must read it. I am reading Selena now , it’s good so far

  4. I’m assuming by book club feel you mean we can reveal things in the comments that you don’t want to reveal in the original review. If not…then you will want to delete this post. (I’m also hoping this is fair warning to anyone that hasn’t read the book yet)

    I had this book on my shelf waiting to be read and decided to read it with you. I’m a little behind as I finished it last night.

    The first thing that struck me was how similar Ender’s character is to my husband. And I’m sure many other Marines. He is a fairly violent person when you get down to his core, but at the same time, he is sensitive and craves gentle affection. As I’m sure many who are close to Marines can identify with he choose a career where his personality flaws, as most of society would see it, can blossom. Ender was so worried about being a sadistic killer, he didn’t see the value of his violent nature. He didn’t have the guidance he needed to help him understand that to be able to defend yourself, even to the point of killing the other, makes you stronger not weaker. Even having a rush of pleasure and adrenaline from winning, from being the one that walked away, does not mean that you are sadistic or sick. It means that you truly understand the words, “kill or be killed”.

    The next thing that struck me was the shaping and conditioning of children into soldiers. It is as if the human race came full circle. Back to the days of fostering your son out to a knight so that he may be trained and shaped early. To give him the best possible advantage by letting him go. To a much lesser extent the military does the same thing. This book is on the reading list for Marine Corps. Young, impressionable children, albeit not as young as Ender, that have earned the title of Marine are reading this book and others with the sole purpose of shaping them for war. The books they will read, the lectures they listen to, the training they receive is all with one purpose. Take your suppressed killer nature, the one your parents and society told you was bad and unnatural and learn to control it, to harness it and in return help us as a nation win.

    Before I knew it wasn’t a game, I couldn’t help but compare many battle scenes to The Warriors Ethos by Steven Pressfield. The pilots and fighters survival, even Ender’s survival was not the point. Playing fairly or by some kind of rules was not the point. The point was the survival of the human race. The point was the many over the few.

    If you completely ignore Ender’s mental status you can see how brilliant the entire plan was. A child, even a genius child, will be more willing to take risks and will focus on winning over all else if he thinks it is a game. A simple video game that resets every day. This also ties into the current debate of violent video games…does it make children desensitized to death and killing? Orson Scott Card certainly didn’t think so. Ender’s mental state when he realized that he sent actual pilots and fighters to their death, that he had completely wiped out an entire race, is a clear message that a child can tell the difference between killing a living being and a video game.

    I loved the book and can’t wait for the movie. I am wondering about Harrison Ford as Colonel Graff…I wonder if they will shape the character to the public’s opinion of Harrison Ford or if they will allow all of his doubts, and even his starting to unravel at how he is treating Ender to show.

    Overall a FANTASTIC read and hopefully a great adaptation to the screen.

  5. Kathleen

    I finally finished Ender’s Game. Wow, that was wild. I had trouble with feeling so sad for the kids. It felt like child abuse and brainwashing … It is interesting to explore mankinds nature and I understand the need for survival during conflict. The ending was redeeming and I am so glad I stuck with it. Now I remember why I like science fiction…check out The Dune Trilogy, they are great books!

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