Sunday, November 24, 2013

Ender’s Game by Orson Scott Card

Why I read this book?

Believe or not until this year I didn't really know about this book. I was not a adept science fiction reader and I have to thank The Sword and Laser book club for changing that. Then this year (probably influenced by the upcoming movie) a lot of people around me starting talking about the book and after my boyfriend bought a copy of the book and really liked it I decided it was time to see for myself what the whole thing was about.

What's the book about?

In a (distant?) future the Earth was attacked by an alien race, the Formics (as a scientist I find their name quite amusing, especially after they way of live is described) and although the Human race won the last battle, the fear of the aliens coming back is a constant. However, the strategy has changed and the military now recruits kids instead of adults in order to form them into the ultimate soldiers. Ender Wiggin is one of these soldier kids and apparently he might also be the answer to all of our problems.

What about the main character?

Ender is a third child, and this fact is mentioned several times as it marks his psyche a lot. He is inevitably compared with his brother Peter (a hot tempered boy with more issues than you care to know) and his sister Valentine (a girl consider to be "too empathetic" and hence useless in battle). Brightness seems to run in the family, since all three of them are above average, but Ender is seemly the only one with the right balance, albeit he does not think the same way. Because he is very young (6 years old when he starts) his brain is very adaptable so he responds to new situations faster than an older person would. He is extremely gifted in strategy, not only in battle but in day to day situations, which will make him seem a bit heartless at certain times when he is just awkward.

Final thoughts

At first I thought I was going to give this book a 4, but it was the twist at the end, charged with so much, with so many unexpected feelings (mine and the characters) that made this an exceptional book for me. In a way, I even enjoyed the characters of Peter and Valentine, particularly when their stories grow stronger; they weren't just side characters and I liked that. It made me a bit sad that their role was cut off from the movie, as I was disappointed to see that they rushed Ender's passage through Battle and Commander School, but I guess making it into two movies would've been too much of a risk. 
Independent of Scott Card's world views, I think he made an amazing job in building this world and the characters; creating characters that are meant to be kids and forced to act like adults can't be easy, but the book delivers this beautifully in a manner that empathy comes easily.

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