I had never read Ender’s Game before now. There, I said it. Sci Fi in general has never been my thing, I was always into crime and horror for my extraordinary fixes. That being said, I read everything back in the day and cannot believe after I loved the hell out of Wrinkle in Time nobody ever threw this book at my little noggin and told me to get my read on. Anyway, I did read it now so here’s what I thought.
Ender Wiggin is chosen to attend Battle School, an elite training program meant to make leaders and soldiers out of children to go into space and fight the intergalactic buggers. Along the way, Ender makes friends and enemies, but must always depend on himself to get through. Will that be enough?
What I Liked
This book focuses on high concept themes of respect, selflessness, and doing the wrong thing for the right reason. Ender pretty much gives up his life for an ideal, for a end goal that he believes will make his life worth something. He gives up everything and through his own resourcefulness he attracts attention and respect from those around him. One could argue the success of the argument the book makes, but not that it does raise the questions effectively.
In a world where fake sports like Quidditch exist in fiction or where video games are a billion dollar business, it is hard to be impressed with Card’s vision of zero gravity sports, but if you consider when his ideas came about it is hard to not be impressed by the ideas. Also, the world building these sports give to the narrative often pays off in interesting ways as the reader is introduced to the games and then how Ender subverts them within the story.
What I Did Not Like
Yes, this book is divided by chapters, but within those chapters time jumps and flops around, sometimes within paragraphs. I may be a lazy reader, but the opening conversation by unknown speakers gave a greek chorus effect that took me out of the story. Then in the middle of the narrative we get a long chapter about what Ender’s siblings are up to that pays off later, but not for any important reason beyond unifying the themes. Unifying the themes seems to be more important than story, often to the detriment of the story.
Card requires one character, often the ghost like greek chorus at the beginning of every chapter, to tell us about how characters feel or are acting. Ender has a constant inner dialog that runs counter to his actions at times, giving the reader glimpses into the calculating mind of a sociopath that runs more on logic processes than with thoughts. The logic processes are then superseded by jumps of creative logic when in battle that we do not see in Ender’s normal behavior. Every other character in this book beyond Ender are even weaker than he, requiring the reader to wait and be told how each character feels about a certain action by Ender, more reactive than proactive to the central character in a way that felt false.
Who Would Like It?
Boys age ten to fifteen. Get them before they become too sophuisticated in character and plot and can still identify with a young narrator that likes to beat the crap out of people. This is not to say no one else will enjoy this book, as I think every demographic will find something to enjoy, but the target audience is the little boys that have not yet read the Hunger Games.
Was it Banned?
As late as 2012, Ender’s Game has been challenged, almost getting one South Carolina teacher fired after a parent objected to it as “pornography” after an in class reading [Forbes].
While the book does have adult situations and violence, there are no sexual overtones that could be deemed pornographic. Let’s be honest, any child young enough to enjoy this book and sit down and read it all will not be the violent type. However, be warned that the book does have a message that can be muddled as most problems in this book tend to be solved with violence. While that violence is shown as causing great stress to the characters and used as a last resort, it can be seen as glorifying the acts.