Review: Ender's Game by Orson Scott Card

Title: Ender's Game
Author: Orson Scott Card
Series: The Ender Quartet (#1)
Page Count: 324
Publication Date: July 15th 1994
Publisher: Tor Science Fiction
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.

Ok, so the reason I picked up this book was no, not because it had rave reviews on Goodreads, not because it's required reading in some US military schools, and not because the cover was gorgeous.

It's because of Red Rising.

This is probably the dumbest reason I've ever picked up a book. Seeing the cover of Red Rising, there was a bit of advance praise on it, and it states, "Ender, Katniss, and now Darrow." I'm sure you've all seen it. Well, because I'd heard amazing things about Red Rising, I really wanted to fully understand it when I read it. I mean, they bothered to put that one quote on the front of the book, it must have had some importance. And heck, I had time, I had already read the Hunger Games, so I may as well do this thing right and first read Ender's Game as well.

I went and picked it up.

I am now a blender of feelings. Time to explode.

Let's talk about the plot.

So, basically, you've got this Ender Wiggin kid, who's a strategic genius, and the book describes how he becomes more of a strategic genius and a pretty good leader too. Ender goes to Battle School and goes through strategical and tactical training, and the final goal is for Ender to command the International Fleet and destroy this alien race.

I have a lot of respect for Ender. As does everyone else in Battle School. Literally, there's a paragraph like,

"He had the respect of everyone, and he was treated with deference in his evening practices. Commanders came to study what he did. Other soldiers approached his table at mess at asked permission to sit down. Even the teachers were respectful. He had so much damn respect he wanted to scream."

That's mainly because Ender is SO DAMN GOOD at what he does. They feature some pretty good strategy and tactical planning, which I enjoyed reading about. Every time Dragon army kicked some more butt I was like "Hell yeah! Your ass is draggin, your ass is Dragon!" It's not only strategy, but Ender is insanely intelligent, clever, independent and good at solving his own problems. Sometimes he's too good. He "accidentally" killed a guy. Actually two. With his bare fists.

Some characters, when they're really good at everything, they're annoying and unrealistic. But Ender, despite being all that he is, doesn't live a perfect life. He has to deal with lots of problems, and he does so in such a mature, intelligent way that I can't help but like him.

However, some of the other main characters were not as interesting. Like Valentine. Valentine is Ender's older sister, and she's supposed to be a genius as well, but I never saw that in her. She's flat. She seems kind of pathetic. All she can do is care about Ender.

Peter, on the other hand, was also tiresome, but in a different way. Peter is the eldest child and he's this cunning, nasty, all around I-want-to-kill-you kind of person. Sometimes, a well-written book can really make that personality work. Ender's game didn't. At some point I was like, "Ok, I get it, Peter's a terrible person, let's friggin' get on with it."

Valentine and Peter were mostly just personality shapers for Ender. However, they were involved in this online plot to gain power and respect. Basically they created fake writer's accounts for themselves, posted articles on the internet, and influenced people's opinions with their articles. I thought it was pretty cool, and their efforts escalated into the commencing of another war. I was like, "Whoa! Peter and Valentine actually did something!" but all I ever got to read about this new war was a one sentence talking about Ender and friends hiding in their quarters. That was it. So uh... Peter and Valentine were pointless? There's more than 40 pages of buildup about the fake writer's plot and all it comes down to is one sentence. Really.

Plotwise, battle school was fun to read about. Especially battle school slang, which was one of my favorite things. For the first 260 or so pages, I was entertained. However, it got duller after that. Ender falls into depression. Because he had spent his whole life detesting and being bullied his older brother Peter, Peter is exactly the person Ender does not want to be. Like I mentioned before, he's a killer. The thing is though, what with battle school and leading an army, Ender's personality does end up becoming rather Peter-esque. Alas, this is a massive internal struggle for Ender.

But  it was a little boring to read about. Yes, he's a child, and I would probably be depressed and frightened of myself, but COME ON no one wants to read about this kid feeling sorry for himself. There's a lot of it. It gets tiresome. Then, Ender goes to earth, spends three months there, and we get to read about him bemoaning his life to his stupid sister Valentine.

And after Ender stops mourning his life, he goes to Command school and does. boring. shit.
I mean, it's still tactics, but as Bean so wisely said,

"You know, this game isn't as fun as it used to be."

The ending. God. I was looking forward to the whole confrontation with the aliens in the big epic finale or whatever, but the truth is revealed and it's so anticlimactic that I just die. I'll not say anything more, but it is disappointing.

The remaining 25 or so boring pages are about the aftermath of the wars and human colonization. Yes, I know that it's dull, necessary content, but you know what's worse? Throwing in a truckload of philosophical garbage. It's all about, "Oh, the buggers were not so different from us," "I shall honor them in death," and "They have forgiven us." Perhaps there was an important message embedded in there, but I felt it could have been more well communicated, and could have given the book a more memorable conclusion.

Overall, I'm half-liking, half-unsatisfied this book. I was enjoying it up to the halfway point, but I felt let down by the rest of the book. Anyway, I still want to like it, so I may read the other books in the series some time in the future. I might recommend this if you've got time on your hands or if you've read Red Rising and want to know who the hell Ender Wiggin is. Last thing: Ender doesn't really deserve to be on that quote.

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  1. I really followed this review even though I've only seen the movie. In the movie, they did a really good well of showing how much respect he had AFTERWARDS. Maybe there's a difference? He only got respect once he showed aptitude.

    I'm glad that there was some action but it sucks that it was boring. I know that I found myself going "WTF is this ending?" It just didn't make sense in line with the rest of the story. An author cannot pull a 180 like that with no warning. IDK, IMO I didn't find it clever like some. I found it really weird.

    Amazing review, girl!

    1. Thanks Nova! I haven't yet seen the movie, but I really didn't like the ending, so I'm probably not going to. It's disappointing how the book was good throughout and then the author just ruined the book with the ending.


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