Wednesday, August 29, 2012
Ender's Game by Orson Scott Card
(Summary taken from the author's website: www.hatrack.com):
ndrew "Ender" Wiggin thinks he is playing computer simulated war games; he is, in fact, engaged in something far more 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 fast. But 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 more 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. Newsday said of this novel "Card has done strong work before, but this could be the book to break him out of the pack." It was. Ender's Game took the sf world by storm, sweeping the awards. It won both the Hugo and Nebula, and rose to the top of national bestseller lists. Copyright © 1985 Orson Scott Card
Wow. I knew this book was sci-fi when I started reading it, but I didn't have a clue as to what it contained. It is very heavy. It is full of action and violence, with war, and with some deep intellectual thinking. As a mother I hated it. I hated it because I have a six-year-old, and I can not imagine letting someone take her away to space to train for war. I can't imagine being ok with never seeing her again. And then seeing how they treated him at six years old. I know these are very smart children, but they are still children, and I think they should be treated as such. To allow these children to treat each other this way, in fact to engineer it to happen that way, is awful. They had so much stress and responsibility at such a young age that it made me sick.
As a reader, though, I did like this book. It is very well crafted and written. Besides the higher up officials that speak at the beginning of certain chapters, in a different font, the character development is really good. I felt like I knew Ender inside and out, and I remember from my own childhood meeting people like his friends in the book. I never really knew who to trust as his friends, but I think that is part of the draw of the book. The higher up officials become more well-known as the book goes on, and they, too, begin to come to light. There are many twists and turns that I didn't expect in the book, and it definitely made me want to keep reading. It was a bit of a slow read for me, but it wasn't for lack of motivation, it just isn't an easy read. There are military terms and physics, and things like that, that require thought before going on. I was very surprised by the twist at the end. You know me, though, I tend to just read and not really think about what will come next. The very end with the giant (you'll understand when you have read it), was a bit of a stretch for me, but I guess it was fitting.
There is a lot of language in this book. I was hoping it would be good for my ten-year-old, but no such luck. Along with the language there is a lot of bullying and violence and death (it is a war). Also, I don't think he would understand it at this point anyway. He'd like the video game aspect of it, but wouldn't understand the physics or the intellectual arguments. Mr. Card correctly predicted many things, and it was kind of creepy. For example, the nets on the computers and the portable desks that had something similar to email on them (today's tablets). Crazy! I do recommend this book with the previous warnings. It is geared more toward boys, I think, but I'm glad I read it. I don't know if I'll read the other books in the series, though.
Rating: PG-13+ (Language, violence, death, war)
Recommendation: 14 or 15 and up. I'd suggest parents read it first before allowing their children to read it. Parents know their children best and can tell whether a child could handle it or not.