Thursday, August 23, 2012

Book Review: Ender's Game by Orson Scott Card

Book: Ender's Game by Orson Scott Card
Genre: SF
Rating: ★★★★★
For: Book Club
From: The library (though I have several copies of my own)

This book is one that has a secure spot on my all time favorite list. When it came to my attention that most of the book club hadn't read it yet, I campaigned for it to be on the line up this year! Thankfully, they all seemed to agree and voted it  in.

I hoped to get a re-read of it done before book club, and I made a pretty good effort and had it "mostly" read by the time we met last Thursday evening. The book flew by for me, once again, and I enjoyed remembering the story and all the things I love about it. (I finished up those last few pages as soon as book club was over.)

Quick summary for those unfamiliar with the story.... it's about a young kid, only six years old, named Ender. He is born as a third child at a time when third kids are not allowed. However, they let his parents have him on the condition that if he turns out to fit all the parameters of a someone who could go to Battle School and learn how to command the war, they would give him up to the government to do so.

Well, of course it turns out that he does turn out smart and perfect and so as this young genius kid (who nobody likes except his sister) he ends up at a space station school were he basically plays games that teach him fighting strategy and how to be ruthless and how to make quick decisions, etc. All this with the end in mind that he will participate in the real war against an alien race the world knows as the Buggers. (Think the Skitters from Falling Skies!)

When I read this for the first time back in the 80s I was blown away by the story. I had never read anything like it. I was reading it at time before email, before iPads, before blogging... and now considering all that stuff is in there, it's fascinating to see it all happen. (The book was actually written in the late 70s which makes it even more impressive.) I was reading it before The Hunger Games, The Maze Runner, Divergent, Delirium, Matched and all the other recent popular dsytopian books. Back then we called it plain old science fiction, but it was unlike any I'd read before.

I had never read a book where a kid acted like an adult, where he came from a world that expected him to be so smart and where he was basically FORCED to act like an adult. I also was fascinated with the video game aspect of things... how the games were so real that in fact it was hard to tell the difference sometimes... which is another thing that has come true for us in this time.

I also simply enjoyed the storytelling and the writing. It continues to grab me even on this my third time through the book. (I think I read this for my second time when I recommended it to my son about ten years ago.) It's harsh and blunt and violent and yet you feel for this kid, and you root for him and you ache for him, so that emotional element I'm always talking about yearning for is all in least for me. And when I read it for the first time, the ending absolutely blew me away. Maybe I'm a stupid reader (this could be a topic for a post some day, because I'm coming to terms with the fact that it's most probably quite true!) but I did not expect it to end the way it did, and it made me a little crazy... for a long time!

I will admit the political parts, as always, tend to baffle me and go over my head. I think this is why, though I've read and enjoyed them, the sequels to this book haven't been ones that I've promoted and talked about much.

But this book, I think, ends up on all my lists (see my Top Ten lists!) probably only second to The Book Thief!

Bottom line: I know that this is one of those books that people either tend to love or hate. Obviously I'm in the love camp. Have you read it. Which camp are you in? Love it, or hate it?

P.S. Have you heard there's going to be a movie? Wow, that took them awhile!

This kid will be playing Ender. I think he will fit the part perfectly,
even if he is actually a bit on the old side now.

P.P.S. This book could actually sort of be considered part of my Utah Book Month reading since the author was raised here, in fact just down the street from me I'm told.


  1. I've lost count how many times the daughter has read this one. We already had a worn copy and now...I will have to find a back-up copy. the husband was sure to put the book in her hands, but I have yet to read it (other than parts read to me). I am going to remedy this, especially while our copy is still holding all its pages.

    great post!

    ~L (omphaloskepsis)

    1. L: I hope you can get to it soon. I'd love to know what you think.

  2. You're not dense! And you effectively captured your love of this book. :)

  3. Whoa!! This book is second only to THE BOOK THIEF in your list of favorites!?!? I definitely did not get that from book club. But you explain it well here. I enjoyed it quite a bit and am glad that we read it for book club.

    1. Jessica: It just seems to be the one I list second most in my top ten lists prompts... like it fulfills almost all categories for me. Not sure I'd say it's my second most favorite book of all time... but.. maybe?

  4. I love this book too. I think Movie will be awesome.

  5. I need to reread this book. When I read it before my dog had just died, so it didn't really work. I just remember I read it because of the timing.

  6. I did love this book :-) and look forward to re-reading it someday. And don't worry, the ending took me COMPLETELY by surprise as well!

    I hope that the movie is good... and I wonder if they're going to put in some of Ender's more violent / self-defence moments? Those are some of my favorite parts of the book, but they apparently stirred up quite a bit of controversy, so who knows.

  7. I might consider reading this book I like sci-fi ...

  8. I love this book so so much! I'm planning on re-reading it before the end of the year because it's been way too long.

  9. I love this book too, for all the reasons you state. I never liked the sequels as much, that focused more on world events/politics. I was delighted to hear that the author wrote a book following Ender closely again, but I haven't read it yet! (Ender in Exile).

  10. Hey, I was hoping to get your opinion on this Ender's Game song I wrote, one fan to another. The music video is here .




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