November 24, 2013

Ender's Game by Orson Scott Card (Review)

Title: Ender's Game
Author: Orson Scott Card
First published: 1977
Add it: Goodreads, The Book Depository
Rating: ★★★☆☆

I was expecting to love this book, as everybody who have read it are just crazy about it, beginning with my BF. Well, this didn't happen. Why? Well, let's begin with the plot.

The book tells about a future in which children are trained to command in space wars, because their minds are still flexible and sharp. So they are all monitored, and the most suitable are chosen and sent to a battle school for further training. Ender is one of them, although not quite, because he is the chosen one best of the best, and he is pushed to his limits in training, as the invasion is supposedly approaching and he is to be the commander in chief of the whole fleet.

Reading this was a very disturbing experience for me, because it's all about children wars. Now, I think children can be awfully creepy and violent, and giving them real weapons is the worst idea ever. Letting them solve their problems by themselves inevitably ends up in a Lord of the Flies kind of situations, and I really, really don't like it. I also found it hard to believe that children at 6 can have some genius tactical plans, and pass as adults on the Internet at 12. And they are all deadly serious, always! Creeps.

Well, maybe it's just me, and nobody else has these problems, I don't know. I see how this book has a lot of great stuff that people like. Take scientific predictions, for example: there are tablets, drone warfare and Internet politics, all very believable. Wonderful, considering it was written in 1977! There is also null gravity, aliens, spaceships, and much more. It just didn't hold together for me very well because of the creepy children.

I read the book as a preparation for the new movie, and now when I can compare them, I think that movie is actually better (gasp!). They left out some of the pathetic gibberish, and made some really nice special effects. I know, I know, I'm not very demanding, I just like a beautiful and entertaining picture on the screen! :)

There was some hype lately about Card's homophobic views, so let me assure you there's nothing of this in the book! One of its main ideas is actually the necessity to reach out and understand those who are different from us, quite the opposite!

In my book:
It's a good, solid Sci-Fi, just didn't work for me.


  1. I read this book when I was, I don't know, 16? or something maybe, back then I wasn't a very critical reader and the plot twist in the end made ALL the difference. After a re-read I do agree that the concept of children is the weakest part of this story, no matter how big geniuses they are, for us "common folks" it is still impossible to imagine that kids talk and think like that. But overall I do appreciate this story and I have four sequels at home as well.

    Author being a douchebag is of course a different matter and sometimes it's difficult to separate creations from creators, but I try! :)

    1. Oh, the twist in the end was GOOD, I can't argue with that, and it nearly made all the difference. But then they got to philosophy and politics again, and the effect was kind of spoiled... I wonder what possible sequels can there be for this story? Are they different?

    2. These are something called The Ender Quinted and I think these are very loosely linked sequels. The Speaker For the Dead, which is the next book, should take place many years after in future, then there is Xenocide and Children of the Mind. If I'm correct these should all focus on aftermath of the end of the first book and some have said that a few of those "sequels" are actually better (and more "philosophical") than the first book. I will read the 2nd book during 2014 Sci-Fi Experience event, I think.

    3. Hm... I'm not sure I like how he does the "philosophical" stuff... I'll wait for your review of the 2nd book and decide if I want to read it then :)

    4. Hehe, I wouldn't probably go for these books very eagerly either if it wasn't for the fact that I own physical copies at home :)

    5. I completely agree that the kids did not feel realistically young. I reviewed this for the SF Experience a couple years back, and ignited something of a debate around that topic. I actually thought the weirdly mature/intelligent kids undercut the message about child warfare, because they didn't *feel* as young as they supposedly were.

      Jumping in here on the discussion about the sequels--I've read the next three and I did find them very different from Ender's Game. You know the tone of the last chapter of Ender, once they get to the colony world? The following books are much more like that, definitely very philosophical. I actually liked them better, but if you didn't enjoy the philosophy and politics, they may not be the best choice...

    6. Yes, I guess the should have even more of a game feel. I agree that the seriousness spoils the idea a bit. Also, I don't think the author knows kids well. It's very difficult to write them plausibly! I didn't like the last chapter at all, it was too pathetic to me, so I guess I'll skip the sequels. Or watch the movie if they shoot one :)

  2. Yes, I thought the kids were a bit creepy, but then I realised that they're all genetically engineered to basically be geniuses. It's like their minds mature faster than their bodies. I can understand your feeling about the book, though.

    1. Well, it was not precisely genetic engineering, they just had a good combination of parent genes. Parents are not modified, just the "good ones" are allowed to make more children)


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