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.
Cover art – John Harris Rating – 3/5
I like the cover for this book because it’s got just enough space and sci-fi in it to hint at what the story is about. I love how the title, particularly the S and the E curve to fit around the planet rather than covering it. I wish there was more room in between the letters of the title and the author’s name though. It’s a nice, cool cover, I just wish it was a bit more specific to the story. I appreciate that it doesn’t try to show any characters though because I think that would have been tough.
Ender’s Game is a little overwhelming to me. It’s unlike anything I’ve read before – space, battle training, and endless political mind games. This book is very sci-fi and it’s like what you’d get if you crossed Star Wars and a game like Battleship. I know it’s a much-loved book, but Ender’s Game made me feel a bit dumb, and my favorite part was the end where everything came together. It just took so long to build up to it. I would imagine that reading this in the 80’s was mind-blowing because the internet wasn’t something everyone had and video games were a relatively new thing.
- chapter openings – The little peeks into Graff’s game plan are very interesting. I like seeing how confused the leaders are much of the time, how desperate they are for Ender to succeed. It’s nice to see that, despite how morally reprehensible their actions may be, the leaders do questions themselves sometimes.
- training games – The games they use in Battle School to train kids like Ender are pretty cool. They’re interesting, gravity-defying strategy puzzles that are designed to challenge the smartest of the smart. The games are well-described and fun to read about. I have such a clear vision in my head of the battles taking place and it looks like a lot of fun.
- Bean – I love Bean’s attitude, especially toward Ender. Bean doesn’t hesitate to tell Ender that he knows what he’s doing to Bean, and that it won’t hurt him. Bean is clearly the Ender of his group – the most clever, the 1st to adapt. I think Bean is kind of like the Neville Longbottom of the story – he seems like he’s the weakling, but he proves himself to be a great advantage to the team. If they hadn’t found Ender, I think Bean would’ve succeeded in his place.
- twists – The last 4th or so of this book is really exciting because it’s full of action and twists I never saw coming. After the 1st twist happened, I thought oh, ok, that’s pretty cool. I wasn’t expecting more at all, but what I consider to be the biggest twist wasn’t the one that left me shocked. SPOILERS AHEAD! I think it’s cool that they were actually fighting the buggers the whole time, but it didn’t really make much of an impact on me. It fit with their carelessness of people’s lives that they had a little boy thinking he was playing a game while he was actually paying with lives. What did shock me is when Ender finds the Giant’s bones and the abandoned tower from the game he was obsessed with completing. I just can’t believe that place existed the entire time.
- allegory? – I think that’s the right word…anyway, everything about the political war on Earth was confusing. This book was 1st published in 1985, and written in the 70’s – now history class is my kryptonite so I have no idea what was going on in the world at the time or what the political climate was. Still, I have this feeling that I’m missing some kind of complex allegory that links the politics in the book to the politics in real life in the 70’s. All the references to Locke, Russia, and the Warsaw Pact made me feel dumb in a way that I don’t think would have happened if everything was all a fictional world with its own politics.
- time span – Ender is, I think, 6 when the book begins and we follow him closely for the next 5 years. But it’s really hard to tell how much time is passing and how old Ender is. He doesn’t exactly act his age. He’s in Battle School for years and that’s where a big chunk of the book takes place. It’s just tricky to keep on top of his age. Sometimes we’re seeing day-to-day, and other times we’re skipping weeks or months at a time.
- Valentine + Peter – The sections of the book describing the political scheming of the siblings Ender’s been isolated from just do not interest me in the slightest. They each take on a different online personality in order to sway the public’s opinion on things related to the war and to government, and I found it to be dull. I suppose it’s meant to show what’s happening on Earth while Ender’s away since it will eventually affect other planets.
- anger – I wish someone was angrier about Ender’s situation and the whole let’s take kids away forever to fight our battles thing. I wish Ender wasn’t so level-headed about the whole thing. Instead of being in a blind rage over his loss of control over anything in his own life, Ender just reasons through it and does what everyone expects of him. His parents aren’t mad, Peter only cares because he’s jealous – there’s just no one looking out for Ender except the people who need him and need his brain. It could have easily been some other kid.
- Perhaps it’s impossible to wear an identity without becoming what you pretend to be. – pg. 231
- What will happen if I pass the test today? Is there another school? Another year or two of isolation, another year of people pushing me this way and that way, another year without any control over my life? He tried to remember how old he was. Eleven. How many years ago did he turn eleven? How many days? – pg. 291