A couple weeks ago I was browsing my extensive “to read” list at the Lexington Public Library, where I work. As I was looking, my co-worker saw Ender’s Game on my list and promptly expressed her shock and dismay that I had never read this great science fiction classic. All I heard for the next ten minutes from every co-worker we encountered was, “How have you never read Ender’s Game!?”
Now I must admit that, by the time I finished it, I was asking myself in the same horrified manner, “How have I never read this before!?”
In case you haven’t read the book yet, Ender’s Game is the story of a boy known by his nickname, Ender. He was born into a world where couples are allowed two children, but where a third child may be born under government contract. The government and military are desperately searching for the perfect child to become the perfect general that might save humanity from the threat of the Buggers, an alien race at war with the humans. As such, they allow couples to have a third child under the agreement that the government may take the child away to train in the military if they show promise. Ender is such a Third, and at the age of six years old, he is taken to a space military academy.
There he is educated and tested. Those governing his life test his mind in ways he can’t even imagine, and he proves himself to be everything they ever hoped. A child genius that is compassionate enough to lead, but strong enough to do what is necessary; but nothing is as it seems, and throughout this story Ender is pushed to the limits of his psyche for the good of humanity – if that’s really the reason.
I won’t give away anymore, but suffice to say that this book has a twist or two, and it might just break your heart.
Ender is a balanced mix between his brilliant but psychopathic older brother and his brave and compassionate older sister. His genius brings him both resentment and strong bonds of friendship from his peers. I don’t care you are; anyone can relate to Ender. The reason he is such a good leader in the story is the same reason you’ll love him as the reader.
This is one of the few books I have found that can keep me interested even when there is no action going on. Much of the story is about Ender and what goes on in his mind throughout his training. It’s about how he solves problems, how he relates with his peers, and how he overcomes the authorities that struggle to manipulate his every move. At least that’s what you think, until you get to the end and suddenly you see how everything that has happened comes together in a beautiful but tragic story.
I finished this book in two days because I couldn’t put it down. I finished its sequel, Speaker For the Dead, in three more. It is a simply written story, with no verbose imagery or flowery language. Ender’s Game is gripping because of its story, because of the growth of the characters, and the heart wrenching ethical dilemmas that Orson Scott Card is so good at creating.
I give this book five stars, easy. I imagine I will read it many more times in my life, and I’ll probably still be discovering lessons hidden in this story fifty years from now. Ender’s Game wholly deserves its status as a classic of science fiction. In fact, I would call it a classic of fiction, as I don’t think you need to be a sci-fi fan in order to love this story.