It pains me to say it, as a hardcore fangirl of science fiction, that one of sci fi s most beloved and highly regarded novels did not do it for me Actually, that is understating it While I m at it, I ll just duck and blurt it out I loathed Ender s Game Deep breaths Let that sink in Let the hate flow through you Good, strike me downI am unarmed Okay Now let s get to it.
Was it because the expectations I had in my mind were unreasonably high and thus were responsible for ruining the book for me No way I make no bones about the fact that Ender s Game, regardless of the respect and popularity it commands in sci fi circles, is an inherently bad novel Why, though, you might ask Why such vitriol for the book Here you are, then 1 Bad plotting It didn t take me long to realise that after I was past Ender s arrival at the Battle School, every literally every chapter thereon until his return to Earth was or less the same thing Battle games, beating the shit out of kids, battle games, switching back and forth to Armies, battle games It was so repetitive that I was exhausted at the end of every.
chapter Page after page after page of six year old, seven year old, eight year old Ender and his buddies zooming about in ships trying to freeze one another s socks off Wheeee 2 Lack of characterisation There are no personalities There are no motivations You never learn anything about the characters except that they are the good guys or the bad guys Ender is brilliant at everything He NEVER loses Not once Bernard, Stilson and Co are the bad guys They re evil baddies cause dey r jealuz of ender s brilliance omg That s it No background, no depth, no internal conflicts No motivation Words cannot express how two dimensional and woefully lacking in personality the characters are.
3 Demosthenes and Locke What the heck was that all about I appreciate Card s prescience about the Nets and blogging before it was around, but come on, this is pushing it a bit too far How, I beg you, how are we supposed to take the idea that a pair of kids end up taking the world by posting in online forums and blogging As if we people of the internet didn t have enough delusions of grandeur already 4 Now, this really gets my goat I had to wait for the last 20 pages to get information that was of any worth to the story at all I m talking about Mazer s Rackham explaning view spoiler the buggger s communications system hide spoiler Spoiler Alert God damn did I hate Ender s Game I checked out and can surely see why I wanted to give it a shot Talk about a cult following of people absolutely smitten with it I even read some where that it s on the required reading list at Quantico I suppose this book could be some kind of manifesto for misfit nerds who waste their life playing video games or a source of legitimacy for motivating tired Marines sick of drilling The book rambles on infinitely about the boy genius Ender and his laser tag in a zero gravity vacuum I also suppose we could kid ourselves into thinking the novel brings to light the necessity of Machiavellianism in conflict or maybe we could discuss the pathetic New Age garbage the book ended with as our annoying protagonist spreads some half crocked neo religion amongst space colonies in which you love the enemy you are forced to annihilate Some sort of cryptic Latter Day Saints plug by the Mormon author There were several other things I couldn t stand about it First of all, like even the best science fiction, the characters were one dimensional card board cut outs This starts with the dorky, self absorbed protagonist Ender himself I can deal with this problem if the plot is cool enough ala Dune Dune, too, often times dealt with children geniuses, however it was explained and made sense in the story We have no idea why Ender and the other children of which 99.
9% were male are so smart Speaking of children, did any of you guys pick up any sort of creepy pedophile vibe in this book How many times were we told of naked little boys Why were there references to their tiny patches of pubic hair Why did Ender have to have his big fight naked while lathered with soap in the shower And the corny Ebonics that the children randomly spoke in WTF The third rate and minuscule insight we were given about the geopolitical conditions on Earth were terribly dated The Warsaw Pact dominated by Russia What a cheap rip of Orwell Lame The side story about Ender s genius two siblings also using Machiavellian tactics to achieve their political goals instead of Ender s military ones by blogging on the internet really didn t add up to beans in plot development if you ask me Of course, Ender is never beaten at anything he does I suppose we are to be awed by his victories but, strangely, his greatest triumph was his stoic willingness to use some sort of super weapon to destroy an enemy wholesale via exploding an entire planet On the cover of my book, it suggests this book is appropriate for 10 year olds What could a child get out this book Boo to Ender s Game This was the first book I picked up and read all the way through in one sitting Technically, it s not a difficult read but conceptually it s rich and engaging They have a word for people our age They call us children and they treat us like mice If you can t understand that statement, you probably won t like this book It s about intelligent children Not miniature adults their motivations, understanding, and some times naivete clearly mark them as children But at the same time their intelligence and inner strength define them clearly as people Their personalities are fully developed, even if their bodies are not.
The book is about war About leadership And about the qualities that make some one a powerful or admirable individual not always the same thing In this book children are both kind and cruel to each other as only children know how to be It is not an easy book for anyone who understands childhood to be a happy time of innocence Even still, the characters retain a certain amount of innocence.
The questions posed by the war, by the handling of the war, are relevant today, as they were when the book was written, and as they have been since the dawning of the atomic age Foremost is the question of what makes someone or something a monster It is an easy read, but not always a comfortable one.
I d recommend this book for intelligent children The sort that resent being talked down to and treated like kids Here is a book that does not talk down to them, but understands and empathizes with them Also I recommend it for adults who used to be that kind of child, even if science fiction is not your usual interest More pure science fiction fans will find it interesting, as will those who enjoy exploring the philosophies of human nature and war This book sets out to make you think.
I read this story quite a while back with no special expectations Like most books I read it just happened to be lying around the house I read it, was hugely entertained, and went on to read three or four of the sequels.
I ve heard since all manner of stuff about the author but what s true and what isn t I don t know and I m not here to critique the man behind the keyboard All I can do is report on the contents of the book and those I can thoroughly recommend you check out.
The main character, Ender Wiggin, through whose eyes we see the story unfold, is a child genius If you re one of those people who wants your protagonist to be an average member of society, typical of his her age and gender step away Ender s story is told because he is very far from ordinary OSC employs a bunch of fairly standard story telling tricks Our hero is underestimated at every turn, he exceeds expectations, we know he s got it in him and we re frustrated by the stoopid people who just won t see it There s a bully nemisis and nobody else but us sees just how nasty he is However, OSC manages to bake an irresistable cake using those standard ingredients and once he starts sprinkling on originality as well, you ve just got to eat it all.
This is sci fi, not hard sci fi, not soft sci fi let s say chewy It has a slightly old school EE Doc Smith feel to it, and you expect someone to pull out a monkey wrench whenever the computer starts smoking, but none of that worried me Given the date it was written there s some quite prescient stuff about the internet here, although shall we say optimistic about the ends to which it s put Card foresaw rather reasoned political philosophical debate and rather less hard core porn Additionally the inclusion of female and Muslim characters whilst not front and centre was fairly progressive for 1985 not ground breaking but certainly ahead of the curve.
This is actually a book with good messages for the time about equality, and one which poses interesting philosophical questions about what happens with races with orthogonal thought processes come into contact, and how far one can or should go in such situations.
There definitely is some characterisation going on We re not talking Asimov s Foundation here where brilliant ideas invite you to forgive cardboard characters The people here are decently drawn and Ender has his own angst involving genius psychopathic siblings that is quite engaging However, it s the stuff that goes on that drives the story The war games in preparation for battling the aliens, the unfortunately named Buggers These war games and Ender s brilliance in overcoming increasingly dire odds are a major theme and I loved them.
And then there s the twist I ll say no on that except that I was too engaged with the story to see it coming, and when it hit me well, I d give the book 6 just for that moment It doesn t work for everyone but it did for me EDIT I have now seen the film which I enjoyed The film skips a lot that s important to the book, but I found it entertaining.
EDIT 2 Orson Scott Card reviewed my first trilogy That s pretty damn cool scroll down the article my 3 emails a year newsletter prizes.
The first thing that bothered me is that the novel sets adults against gifted children in a way that strikes me as bizarre Adults are essentially evil but teachers especially The children are inherently excellent, capable of helping each other in trying to figure out just what the adults are hiding, which is, in this case, a vast and secret war they are tricking the children into fighting for them This was perhaps the hardest to believe of all the things thrown at the reader, and interestingly, it is hidden from you until the very end, though you can guess at it before then.
What disturbed me the most is that the writing is terrible far too much happens internally, inside the character s head it s an emo space opera, basically and one of the most interesting events of the book is nearly buried and the presentation of it is rushed, because it is near the end There are many points in the battle scenes where it is impossible to understand what s happening And the penultimate plot event, where it s revealed all of the games were not.
gamescould have been handled interestingly But the novel was overdetermined, things happening only because the writer wants them too and not because they feel inevitable, and so too many of the arrows point in the same direction By the time Ender meets Mazer, his final teacher, my eyes rolled back into my head at the implausibility of it all And it s worth mentioning the thing no one prepared me for was the bizarre homoerotic subtext built into the book as well, a subtext that is sometimes just a plain old supertext, on display, right beside how women in this novel are to be loved distantly and kept from real knowledge, and turned against themselves, so they can then be used to compel others.
It creeped me out and I m gay.
I m also a former gifted child , and was tested and poked and pushed, all of these things, made to study computer programming when I didn t want to, and I made myself fail out of their program to get away from them But I found no commonality with the gifted children here, not as I have in other stories about gifted children, say, like Salinger s Glass family Also, these kids are all jerks I do hand it to Card for the ideas in the novel blogging Yes It s in here, well before anyone was doing it, and it matters a lot, and in the ways blogging matters Also the idea of an institution that runs on the manipulation of its populace into a distant war with an implacable foe, as a way of controlling people And a society that has no privacy at all, not even in dreams This novel does offer a dark picture of what life is like under these terms Also, the idea of how a hive mind would think differently, without language, and the complications of communicating with someone like that, that s brilliant also.
I wish it had been revised that the battle scenes were clearer, that the movement of the novel s action, the way the buggers are in a race to try and communicate with Ender before he kills them, that this were obvious to the reader, and not a surprise whipped out at the end, so that it could have lent tension to the scenes of the games and manipulation, which were only boring And Ender s decision, to be the Speaker for the Dead, that struck me cold, because in the end, the buggers were only trying to do what everyone else in his life were doing to him poring over what makes him tick and trying to get him to do their bidding The novel contains a rant against style at the beginning, added by Card, called literary tricks by him I think the most interesting thing about it is that given the millions sold, it is proof that story matters than style, even as convoluted and badly formed as this one is In the end what matters is the questions the novel raises and the implications of the questions, and that the novel really is about something at its core, behind all of the badly rendered fight scenes I admire style, don t get me wrong I love it But it would appear you can get by without it.
I was savaged by a miniature poodle the other day wait no, someone protested my review of The Giver the other day If you have any pent up rage from that college lit teacher who forced you to think about books, be sure to stop by and spew some incoherent vitriol my reviews are now a socially acceptable site of catharsis for the insecure.
In any case, one of them made the argument that children need new versions of great books that are stupider, because children are just stupid versions of normal people Happily enough, The Giver is a totally stupid version of A Clockwork Orange or whatever Dystopian book actually, it s a rewrite of Ayn Rand s Anthem Coincidentally, in my review of Alice In Wonderland, I happen to put forth my own philosophy regarding children s books In short they should present a complex, strange, many faceted, and never dumbed down world, because presenting a simple, one sided, dumbed down world both insults and stultifies a child s mind.
However, if someone were to say that this book were a childrenized version of Starship Troopers, I wouldn t sic a poodle on them Both present a human bug war, deal with the issues of death, war, the military complex, human interaction, personal growth, and all that good stuff Also, both authors have their heads up their asses and there must be a pretty good echo in there since they keep yelling their hearts out about one personal opinion or another However, Orson Scott Card doesn t get into his pointless author surrogate diatribes until the second book in this series, so we may enjoy the first one uninterrupted So it s a pretty good book for children, and like romeo and Juliet, it s easy to see the appeal kid defeats bullies and plays videogames to save the world in one of the sequels, they save the world by making angry comments on the internet surprising that one isn t popular here But than that, it s not a bad book in general, so I guess I don t have to bother defining it as dumbed down, or for kids Then again, a lot of grown ups seem like they need their books dumbed down Just look at The Da Vinci Code compared to The Satanic Verses, or Foucault s Pendulum or all three compared to The Illuminatus Trilogy I m pretty sure when it comes to stupid versions of things, adults have the monopoly.
Andrew Ender Wiggin Thinks He Is Playing Computer Simulated War Games He Is, In Fact, Engaged In Something Far Desperate The Result Of Genetic Experimentation, Ender May Be The Military Genius Earth Desperately Needs In A War Against An Alien Enemy Seeking To Destroy All Human Life The Only Way To Find Out Is To Throw Ender Into Ever Harsher Training, To Chip Away And Find The Diamond Inside, Or Destroy Him Utterly Ender Wiggin Is Six Years Old When It Begins He Will Grow Up FastBut Ender Is Not The Only Result Of The Experiment The War With The Buggers Has Been Raging For A Hundred Years, And The Quest For The Perfect General Has Been Underway Almost As Long Ender S Two Older Siblings, Peter And Valentine, Are Every Bit As Unusual As He Is, But In Very Different Ways While Peter Was Too Uncontrollably Violent, Valentine Very Nearly Lacks The Capability For Violence Altogether Neither Was Found Suitable For The Military S Purpose But They Are Driven By Their Jealousy Of Ender, And By Their Inbred Drive For Power Peter Seeks To Control The Political Process, To Become A Ruler Valentine S Abilities Turn Toward The Subtle Control Of The Beliefs Of Commoner And Elite Alike, Through Powerfully Convincing Essays Hiding Their Youth And Identities Behind The Anonymity Of The Computer Networks, These Two Begin Working Together To Shape The Destiny Of Earth An Earth That Has No Future At All If Their Brother Ender Fails Hatrack i think ender s game is the only book i ve read three times for me books often don t have repeat reading value in the same way some movies have repeat viewing value it s probably because a movie takes two hours of your time while a novel, for me, takes a week or longer so for someone like to me read a novel twice, not to mention three times, is really saying something and yes, i realize the inherent snobbery in that statement.
i ve thought long and hard about what makes ender s game so appealing it s got a sympathetic protagonist, lots of great action, lots of heart, and a plausible twist of an ending on those merits only ender s game works it s a lot of fun to read and orson scott card manages to inject some really moral and ethical quandries without resorting to didactism or heavy handedness for example, the manipulations of the battle school powers that be are presented and inspected, but card never explicitly paints them as the enemy they are who they are, for better or for worse, but it s up to the reader to for his or her own opinions same for ender and his merry band of castoffs card understands that good v bad is never as simple as black v white the world and universe are, often than not, varying shades of gray and the folks who inhabit that gray universe, for better or for worse, are who they are they all have a part, they all have a purpose even if those parts and purposes contradict each other ender s game is also a great story of the value and importance of friendship i choke up everytime ender s friends great him over the headset and the kids prepare for the final battle who wouldn t want friends like bean, petra, hot soup and the rest i sure would.
but i think the real appeal for ender s game comes from the belief that we all want to believe that there s something uniquely special about us i think it s safe to assume that most of us have, at one point or another, felt like the underdog, the castoff, the misfit, the misunderstood, or the underappreciated, and that if people would just give us a chance, we d shine in that way ender is very much a universal character he embodies a small part of each ous yes, he is treated unfairly and manipulated, but he s also the smartest kid in the room there s something very appealing about that at least there is for me whether or not i m the smartest person in the room is irrelevant, but i want to believe it and whenever i read ender s game there s a small hope that it just might be true.
This is a novel that blows past conventional ideas like disbelief Apparently humanity, a species whose only real claim to fame is war, now stinks at war, and can only be saved by a child genius who is one part prophecy, one part bad science, and one part wish fulfillment Thanks to this plan, we are treated to a gaggle of super intelligent children who seldom appear particularly clever in fact many behave with adult maturity rather than abnormal intellect and achieve greatness not through any great effort that we follow rather you ll read recaps of their successful efforts , but because the author wants them to achieve these things In this, the definitive edition of Ender s Game, there is almost nothing earned within the plot.
It s a decent story, but for a book with so many events there is very little consequence or risk, and the character development is so linear and stale That last quality is particularly cloying considering that, prodigies or not, most of the characters are children and at least one of them should develop in an unexpected way Instead the unexpected developments we get are humorlessly absurd, like two prodigies fooling the world with a fake op ed column that earns them political power The ending is predictable and deliberately anti climactic, robbing the novel of its one true punch The trade off is, instead of getting the thing the book was building to, you get the opportunity for sequels and spin offs If you liked the infallible, mostly emotionless and paper thin protagonist, then that s a good thing If you were hoping to have the hours you put into the book validated with some real emotion at the end, well, neither this author s definitive edition nor any other is going to help you.
This was a really good book On its surface it is a great story about a young boy who goes through tremendous struggles On another level it is a brilliant psychological character study and an observation of group dynamics On still another level it was an intelligent allegory for violence and bellicosity in ourselves and our society There is a listopia list that calls this the best science fiction novel Mmmmm, maybe I can see why someone would say so I have heard where military organizations have assigned this for cadet reading.
It is very good, certainly high in the running and on a short list of best ever I will read by Card and may read of the Ender series.