I have recently finished the action-packed, 324 page novel Ender’s Game, written by Orson Scott Card. Card is known for his fictional series following the character Ender, and some of his other work is quite remarkable, including Hamlet’s Father, and Empire. Ender’s Game was published on January 15, 1985. I wanted to read this book because of its well-known title, but also because while channel surfing I watched the second half of the 2013 movie based on the book, and it piqued my interest.
Ender’s Game is Card’s most notable novel, winning The Hugo Award, Nebula Award, and it was a New York Times Bestseller. The movie based on the book, released on November 1, 2013 featured actors Asa Butterfield, Hailee Steinfeld, and Harrison Ford. I was surprised to learn that the movie was given 61 out of 100 by critics on the Rotten Tomatoes movie review website, because the book is so interesting, and full of detail.
Card uses a writing style that doesn’t just give you the information, but presents the knowledge with small details, giving you more information than you realize. From the start he drops the reader in an unknown location, time, and with unknown characters. You slowly gain more and more knowledge, but not any faster than the characters who lived it. By using this method through the whole book you never hit a dead spot where you could have predicted the outcome from the start. But even then the author still gives us a firm grasp on what is happening within the novel. I think that even though we know the information we are still able to wonder about the book’s outcome.
With these factors combined you get the twisting plot that makes up Ender’s Game. At the start of the book, Ender Wiggin, and his family of child geniuses, is selected by international military forces to save the world from destruction. Before being chosen Ender wears a unique monitor that allows the heads of the military to see things as Ender does. Once the government deems the Wiggins ready, they ship out to Battle School.
Battle School is located on a spaceship far from Earth. Ender feels isolated as he is abruptly taken out of his home to save the world. Eventually, Ender makes a few friends among the recruits and ends his isolation. Inside the battle room, Ender figures out how to maneuver in null gravity, along with another recruit named Alai.
After some training, Ender is promoted to Salamander Army, where he is befriended by Petra Arkanian, the only girl in the army. Ender helps the army by disobeying Bonzo, who hates Ender. Ender gets into a fight and he hurts four older boys who attack him. It is clear to Ender that the teachers are leaving him to fend for himself.
Ender is now made commander of Dragon Army and given a group of soldiers, most of them Launchies. Ender’s army is given an unprecedented number of battles to fight, and they win every one. Bonzo is humiliated when Ender beats his troops. After that, Bonzo attacks Ender in the shower room and Ender beats him, brutally, because he was forced to. Ender is then transferred out of Battle School to Command School.
The Battle School administration conducted an investigation into the attack and the beating in the shower, and whether Ender was put up to it by someone …
My favorite section of this book came from page 241
“I can’t beat them” Ender said softly. “I’ll be out there like Mazer Rackham one day, and everyone will be depending on me, and I won’t be able to do it.”
“If you can’t, Ender, then nobody could. If I can’t beat them, then they deserve to win, because they’re stronger and better than us. It won’t be your fault.”
This is a total “Big Brother” moment as Ender has to regain the perseverance he lost. This section sums up the feeling of, “we can do it” in a way that couldn’t have been better explained. And because of this quote, I think Ender gains that strength he needed to carry on in the next book in the series.
I’d give this book an 8 out of 10. For a novel so short it packed in a lot of detail that laid the groundwork for the rest of the books in the series. Also because there were no solid conclusions to some of the big questions remaining at the end of the book, I wondered what happened to Alia, Bonzo, and the rest of the Wiggins?. The lack of closure left me with an uneasy feeling at the end of the book, but it gave me a reason to read the next book in the series.