“Ender’s Game”—A Book Review

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Ok, let me start off by saying, I get why people love this book. I get the psychology and mental aspect of being a soldier in the midst of a war. But, it’s just not my cup of tea.

Ender Wiggin is a Third, the third child born in a society where the limit of offspring a couple can have is two, unless they have been granted special permission from the government. Ender, like his older brother and sister, is genetically gifted—meaning, he is a child genius.

At the fragile age of six, Ender was handpicked by the government to attend battleschool aboard a spaceship, where he will receive military training. The smallest of his group, Ender has been separated out from the beginning, making him a continuous target for bullying.

For some reason, the government thinks that Ender is the key to human survival. For the “buggers” (aliens) are preparing to strike Earth again, and if there is any hope for the survival of humanity, we need a fierce Commander. Constantly pushed to his limits, Ender will be tested and challenged to extents unimaginable.

Can he save us?

 

Again, I state, I understand why certain people would absolutely LOVE this book. I’m just not one of them. I really tried, but I found most of it pretty boring. I absolutely appreciated the “mind-fucking” aspects, but overall, I just didn’t really like it.

I found the “battle” scenes boring because they weren’t descriptive enough for me to get a clear picture in my head. And in general I don’t like the whole “military” thing anyway, because I am much too stubborn of a person to ever allow anyone to completely control me in any way. In being a “good soldier”, you completely forfeit all ability to think or act for yourself. And I don’t agree with that. I guess I can understand why it would be necessary while in battle to never question your authority figure, and blindly do everything they tell you to do, but I just couldn’t do it.

“No one with him to tell him he must eat, he must go to practice, he must sleep. Freedom. The trouble was, he didn’t know what to do.”

And the fact that they are taking all of these kids and turning them into their own personal tools…it’s just f*cked up.

“Human beings are free except when humanity needs them. “

“Individual human beings are all tools, that the others use to help us all survive.”

“Frightened children are so easy to win.”

 

I do think the book sends a good overall message with this line:

“So the whole war is because we can’t talk to each other.”

Isn’t that pretty much the cause of most disasters? From personal relationships all the way up to world wars, communication is usually the key. One party always tends to have their head so far up their own ass that they lose their ability to see reason. Such a simple thing, listening, yet no one really seems capable. 

And at first, Ender was a very free thinker:

“All he had to do was watch the game and understand how things worked, and then he could use the system, and even excel.”

He was brilliant. He knew how to read people and machines and figure out how to trump them against all other logic. Every time the “teachers” threw a curve ball at him he figured it out. He had a kind heart, but was ruthless when he needed to be. He quickly figured out their game, he just couldn’t seem to stop it. Also, I would like to point out the irony of them turning these kids into soldiers to “save humanity”, when in doing so, they are basically stripping them of their humanity.

“I’ve got a pretty good idea what children are, and we’re not children. Children can lose sometimes, and nobody cares. Children aren’t in armies, they aren’t commanders, they don’t rule over forty other kids, it’s more than anybody can take and not get crazy.”

“The power to cause pain is the only power that matters, the power to kill and destroy, because if you can’t kill then you are always subject to those who can, and nothing and no one will ever save you.”

To push one kid that far, it just pissed me off. They made Ender into something he wasn’t and didn’t want to be. They broke him and killed his spirit to achieve their goal.

“There was no doubt now in Ender’s mind. There was no help for him. Whatever he faced, now and forever, no one would save him from it.”

So, I guess it’s because I don’t have a military mindset and am completely hard headed, but Orson Scott Card’s celebrated book Ender’s Game just wasn’t for me. I will see the movie, because it has an outstanding cast, and I’m hoping that maybe the visual representation will help me get a better feel for what was actually going on during the battles, as the text just didn’t quite get me there.

Thus, for my own personal rating I will give it three out of five stars. I feel the writing could have been better, but it did keep me reading.

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2 thoughts on ““Ender’s Game”—A Book Review

  1. Dillie-O says:

    I’m not sure if Ender wasn’t able to stop what they were doing to him, but he needed to do it in a fashion they weren’t expecting or could counter, hence the “ender” nickname that he unwittingly inherited as a child. They needed Ender to go beyond anything they were even thinking, since ultimately they needed him to eliminate a race that they didn’t even fully understand.

    [spoilers for those that still haven’t read the book]

    I wonder in the end if Ender ultimately kept his humanity that the military was so eager to break. Ender always won his matches according to his rules, not to how the military wanted (or maybe expected) him to win. Also, the Hive Queen herself said that the reason Ender had been able to exterminate them because Ender himself knew the Hive Queen, knew the Formics so intimately that he new precisely how to terminate them. It was this utterly intimate understanding of his bullies that led him to come back and finish them off when he could (and to some degree wanted) to walk away. It is this intimate understanding of people that leads him out in the universe.

    If you haven’t read it yet, I’d highly recommend “Speaker of the Dead” which is the next book in the series. Ender is older in this book, and you can see a lot of his character that has been preserved years after the Formic war as he attempts to atone for his previous sins.

    • I just can’t make myself read any more in the series at the moment. Maybe if the movie is really good, I’ll want to continue.

      When I say wasn’t descriptive enough, I mean mainly with the battles. I just couldn’t really picture everything that was happening. It was just a bunch of rambling to me :\
      Like I said, though, hopefully the movie will clear it up for me.

      And yes, while Ender did win most thing on his own terms and not the military’s…he still did it on military terms b/c he chose to continue to play the game. Even after it was completely wearing him down on Eros, he still continued to play. He kept letting himself get talked into doing things he didn’t want to do. Again, perhaps if he hadn’t have been so young it wouldn’t have bothered me as much.
      Also, I’m much to hard-headed to let people control me to that extent, so I guess it just really bother me when other people allow themselve to be controlled in such a manner. (and this is coming from a girl dating a soldier :\)

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