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January 11, 2013 / minusbar

Book Review: Ender’s Game, by Orson Scott Card

Book Review: “Ender’s Game” by Orson Scott Card

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Sometimes I am quite grateful for the long stretch of time I was inactive in reading Sci-Fi and Fantasy novels. Because of this long hiatus from the genre I’m able to pick up hundreds of classics and discover them for the first time. “Ender’s Game” is one such title that I’ve just now gotten around to reading. In case anyone else reading this review had been living under a rock with me, here’s a quick look at the synopsis:

“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.”

Alright, this is a reasonably short book and makes for an enjoyable quick read. At its core this book is a coming of age story about a young man who is forced to grow-up unfairly early. The book grapples with many psychological aspects of Ender Wiggin being thrust into this adult-minded world at such a young age and having to deal with being disjointed from the others children around him due to his brilliance. Grooming a leader is neither an easy or a gentle task, and his internal struggles as he copes with these situations is quite enjoyable. Despite Ender’s many strengths, he still remains relatable to readers as we are shown his fragility and are reminded that he is in fact only a young child.

I enjoyed the storytelling style used by Orson Scott Card. The book switches between using a narrative tone for long durations then briefly cuts to dialogue in sections. This writing style made me feel like I was seeing multiple perspectives to the same scenes. I enjoyed the way these styles where used as a tool to give scenes more layering.  The vocabulary of the novel was very easy to follow and I was able to get comfortable not think too hard about anything except for the thought process of the characters I was reading about. This was especially nice I had just finished reading a high fantasy book that constantly challenged me by forcing me to remember obscure name after name.

There was only one thing about this book that continually seemed to bother me. All of the children that participate in this elite program are supposed to be the brightest and most fit for leadership, so why then do they adopt such a terrible Ebonics-like slang language when speaking amongst themselves? It’s not too distracting after a while, but when I was first starting the book it bugged (or perhaps in this books case “buggered”) me. I feel a collection of the best and brightest children would speak more grammatically correct.  This is just a minor annoyance in otherwise perfectly enjoyable read.

Overall, I can see why this book is considered a Sci-Fi classic. However, I wish the book would have elaborated further on the buggers…  But hey, what are sequels for? If any of you out there have not read this book, and you are looking for an enjoyable book to glue your nose in for a day, I suggest you check it out. The book wastes no time getting to the plot, so you’ll be engrossed in the story from the very first page!

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