04 December 2012

Book Review: Ender's Game - Orson Scott Card

Ender's Game (Ender's Saga, #1)Ender's Game by Orson Scott Card
My rating: 3 of 5 stars

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, that is, the world survives.

Ender's Game is the winner of the 1985 Nebula Award for Best Novel and the 1986 Hugo Award for Best Novel.

This novel has won a couple of heavy-weight awards, and over the years friends of mine who also enjoy sci-fi could not believe that I hadn't read this classic book which is, by all accounts, a real doozy.

Well, I finally picked it up and have been cruising through it for that last week or so. I say cruising because that's all the pace I've been able to muster with it - up until around the three quarter mark. That's when the book suddenly grabbed me and the last 25% was easy.

The first 75% deals with Andrew "Ender" Wiggin and his selection and early training as a potential military commander with the space forces defending Earth and our solar system. There have been two previous invasion attempts by the "Buggers" and a third is coming. The powers-that-be have spent years finding and grooming future commanders from an early age and have identified Ender as the best hope yet.

After he is graduated from up to Command School things really pick up. This is when we finally get to learn a bit of the historical stuff around the story, like who the Buggers are and what humanity has been doing to combat them. This is the kind of story that I had been waiting for!

The final 25% is fantastic and ultimately defines who Ender really is - and his destiny. I found that I had really connected with Ender throughout the story and I guess that this is why the book has been so successful; great characterization.

I really liked it overall but was frustrated with my lack of interest at the start. The conclusion makes up for all of that, however.

If you liked Ender's Game then you're in luck! There are more books that follow in the "Enderverse" series, a parallel series, a prequel series that has only just been begun, and even a movie has been announced. Whew, success indeed!

A deservedly popular book. I'm glad I finally got around to reading it.

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