“Ender’s Game” by Orson Scott Card was amazing. I love to read, but I so very rarely pick up anything resembling science fiction, I didn’t think this would be much different. But boy, was I wrong. I was hooked from the beginning.
When we first meet Ender, we learn he is a Third – population control is very strict and only a select few can have more than two children. This alone makes him stand out. We learn bits and pieces about the world that Ender was born into. We know that the enemies are aliens that have been named Buggers. We know he was brought into the world because his two siblings were so close to being what was needed, and so there is even more pressure on him to be perfect. What we don’t know is what the government is looking for, and what would make Ender an ideal candidate. The distrust that Ender holds for almost everyone is engrained early on. “Sometimes lies were more dependable than the truth.” (Ender’s Game, pg 2).
What I thought was really interesting throughout this novel was the duty that was often preached to Ender. All the terrible things that he found himself subjected to, they were all necessary to help him do what needed to be done. “Human beings are free except when humanity needs them. Maybe humanity needs you. To do something. Maybe humanity needs me – to find what you’re good for. We might both do despicable things, Ender, but if humankind survives, then we were good tools.” (Ender’s Game, pg 35). I thought this was a curious way to look at things. We learn the soldiers that Ender joins are in training to make sure that humanity is prepared for the next time the Buggers attack. In order to make the ideal soldier, children are the test subjects and are pushed to the limit – many are pushed beyond the breaking point. And it is near impossible to know what is a test. “Ender understood more than she said. Manipulation of gravity was one thing; deception by the officers was another; but the most important message was this: the adults are the enemy, not the other armies. They do not tell us the truth.” (Ender’s Game, pg 82). Again, at Ender’s core he distrusts the adults. After everything they put him through, it isn’t all that surprising.
Ender was a fascinating character. His ability to keep going even when everything was in his way was impressive. His ability to stay cool under pressure, and most importantly (in my opinion), his ability to hold onto his humanity and the basic belief that good will triumph – that is what made him so special. “He could see Bonzo’s anger growing hot. Hot anger was bad. Ender’s anger was cold. He could use it. Bonzo’s was hot, and so it used him.” (Ender’s Game, pg 87). I liked this quote; I believe it illustrates well how wise Ender can be.
Would I recommend this book? Absolutely – and to all different types of readers. I am not one to pick up science fiction and I wouldn’t have picked this up if not for it being a gift. But I was so pleasantly surprised by this book. It is well written, Ender is a great character, and the science side isn’t overdone. I would especially recommend this book to other readers that don’t often, if ever, pick up science fiction. I’m eager to branch out into this genre, which for so long I bypassed. That’s how good this book was – it opened up a whole new genre to me.