Thursday, February 11, 2010

Review - Ender's Game by Orson Scott Card

Ender's Game by Orson Scott Card
published 1977
324 pages

Synopsis from publisher:

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 cutyoung 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 psychologicalbattles 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, that is, the world survives.

My thoughts:

Boy, I forgot how much I enjoy this novel. It's been a few years since I read it, but most of the details came back to me quickly. I am always worried when I re-read a novel that it won't have the same magic - that spark that drew me to the story in the first place. I'm happy to report that Ender charmed me all over again.

It was a delight to reacquaint myself with Ender and Val, Bean and Petra, Dink and Alai - all the kids I grew to love when I first discovered the book. It was interesting this time around to find myself feeling more sympathy for Peter - he seemed wholly villianous the first time around, but on this reading I found I could understand some of the anger, and could see past it to the hurting young man underneath.

Also knowing what comes next in the series, I found Ender's constant refrain that he never wanted to hurt anyone especially heartbreaking. He just wants to be a kid, and yet the choices he is forced to make would break any adult. Watching him wrestle with the struggle between what he wants to do and what he HAS to do was wrenching:

" 'In the moment when I truly understand my enemy, understand him well enough to defeat him, then in that very moment I also love him. I think it's impossible to really understand somebody, what they want, what they believe, and not love them the way they love themselves. And then, in that very moment when I love them - '

'You beat them....'

'No, you don't understand. I destroy them.' "

I have read and enjoyed the entire series, but there is just something about this first book that steals my heart. If you haven't yet met Ender, give him a try. If you aren't sure about Sci-fi, this would be a great place to start. I'm so glad I spent a few more hours in Ender's world.

Finished: 2/8/10
Source: Forest Avenue library
Rating: 8/10

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