Orson Scott Card
Tor Science Fiction/Science Fiction
Release Date: 1985
In order to develop a secure defense against a hostile alien race’s next attack, government agencies breed child geniuses and train them as soldiers. A brilliant young boy, Andrew “Ender” Wiggin lives with his kind but distant parents, his sadistic brother Peter, and the person he loves more than anyone else, his sister Valentine. Peter and Valentine were candidates for the soldier-training program but didn’t make the cut–young Ender is the Wiggin drafted to the orbiting Battle School for rigorous military training.
Ender’s skills make him a leader in school and respected in the Battle Room, where children play at mock battles in zero gravity. Yet growing up in an artificial community of young soldiers, Ender suffers greatly from isolation, rivalry from his peers, pressure from the adult teachers, and an unsettling fear of the alien invaders. His psychological battles include loneliness, fear that he is becoming like the cruel brother he remembers, and fanning the flames of devotion to his beloved sister.
Is Ender the general Earth needs? But Ender is not the only result of the genetic experiments. The war with the Buggers has been raging for a hundred years, and the quest for the perfect general has been underway for almost as long. Ender’s two older siblings are every bit as unusual as he is, but in very different ways. Between the three of them lie the abilities to remake a world. If the world survives, that is.
Ender’s Game was chosen for this month in preparation for another book club movie field trip. The book has a pretty rabid following and the cast has some big names, so I expect it will have a blowout release weekend– who knows after that?
The most surprising thing about Ender’s Game was that I didn’t hate it. I put off reading the book until the very last minute, just because it just sounded awful to me. While pleasantly surprised that I didn’t hate it, I didn’t exactly find the book engaging. For fully three-quarters of the book, I could have put it down and walked away without a second thought. I didn’t care about the characters; I wasn’t wondering where the story would go next. There is a small section near the end where it all comes together and you must find out what happens next, but it is over much too quickly and then the story devolves into set-up for future books.
When pressed to describe Ender’s Game, I would say Lord of the Flies in space. That pretty much sums it up. Kids do bad things when they are left unsupervised. Those bad things make you stronger, unless they kill you.
My verdict: Skip it. It is just okay. That’s all. Very popular, but just okay.