I don’t know what suddenly drew me to Ender’s Game. I had been aware of it for some time, and I think when looking into books I might possibly want to read, it stuck out to me for some reason. I think this was around the same time I was kicking around a story idea I had that is slightly reminiscent of the movie Tron: Legacy, and I was wondering how Ender’s Game compared. Well, it turned out that it’s pretty different.
Ender is only six years old when he is picked up to attend Battle School, and he quickly moves up the ranks in the school, commanding his own army by the age of 9. From conversations we see at the beginning of each chapter, those in charge of Ender are determined that he is the only one who can annihilate the “buggers” (the aliens who have fought them in two wars now), which is why they accelerate him through the ranks. They do this, however, by isolating him, breaking him, and lying to him.
I knew this book was about children, so I was very surprised by how dark and gritty the story actually was. There’s also some language in here; it probably wouldn’t bother most people, but I wouldn’t call it kid-friendly. As a story of science fiction, however, this story was very profound. Everyone in charge of the Battle School is xenophobic, they are willing to push a child to limits that would be difficult for an adult, and the child himself is capable of producing great damage that he tries to deny for quite some time. As all good science fiction does, I think the story does a great job of mirroring how we as people are, regardless of the time and setting of the story.
I did have a few small issues with the story. The pacing sometimes seemed strange while reading because the story covers such a long period of time, though once you’ve read the whole story you can understand why certain parts emphasized on and why certain parts were abbreviated. And though I understand why all the emphasis was on Ender, I would have liked to have seen more development of some of the minor characters, particularly Alai, Bean, and Petra.
I also still have mixed feelings about the end of the story. I think I would have liked it better if the book had ended right after *SPOILER* Ender found the bugger queen’s cocoon *END SPOILER* instead of dragging things out a little bit longer to the years beyond. I am curious is Card was trying to wrap things up because he was unsure if he was writing more books, yet still leaving some mystery so that he could write more.
There is also a small subplot in which Ender’s brother Peter recruits their sister Valentine to help him try to infiltrate the Nets with the way people think. It’s both difficult and easy to believe at the same time, like a few other things in the story, but the part that bothers me most is how much credibility Peter still has once the war is over.
I would recommend this book for teens and adults. I think, like all good science fiction, it forces us to take a look at ourselves and what we are capable of and what we are willing to do. And it shows how what we do affects us; we see both Ender and Graff were affected greatly, but in different ways. I might read the sequels, but I don’t feel like I necessarily have to. I’m also interested in seeing the movie adaptation coming out this year and how it will compare to the book.
If you’ve read Ender’s Game, what are your thoughts? What do you hope they will include in the movie? If you’re read the sequels, would you recommend them?