Published: Atom Books 2002 (originally 1985)
Genre: Science Fiction
Rating: 5 Stars
Synopsis: Ender Wiggin is battle school's latest recruit. His teachers reckon he could become a great leader. And they need one. A vast alien force is headed for Earth, its mission: the annihilation of all human life. Ender could be our only hope. But first he must survive the most brutal military training program in the galaxy...
Probably one of the best books I have ever read - an oldie, but a goldie.
I first read Ender's game years ago, when I was about eleven. So parts of it were essentially my childhood dreams on paper, á la Hogwarts. There were so many parts of this book that I loved, and it's probably one of the principal reasons I'm a fan of science fiction.
Ender is a profoundly gifted six-year-old child at the start of the novel, the third child in a society where only two children are allowed, but who has been commissioned by the government as a potential soldier because of the promise shown by his brother and sister, Peter and Valentine. I thought that Peter and Valentine were really interesting characters, and I loved the descriptions of their intelligence and disdain for what was taught to them at school because, wary as I usually am of saying it, it's so true for gifted children and nobody realises about asynchronous development. I'll talk more about Valentine and Peter later.
A large part of this book centers around war games, but they involve flying. Flying in null gravity. If your inner nerd didn't get excited about flying games, I don't know who you are, I don't know what you want, but I will find you and force you to re-read it. The war games are intended to train the students of the Battle School for command or support of the military fleet to defeat an enemy alien race called 'buggers'. Young geniuses are chosen from Earth and brought into space to be trained until they're eighteen and ready to fight for the survival of the human race.
I LOVED the tactics Card devised for Ender to flawlessly implement. There is a certain pleasure in watching the hero's plans develop beautifully, never mind how unrealistic they are. The details of of group dynamics in the armies, manoeuvres, toon bonding and tactics are exquisite. And the writing technique was incredibly enjoyable. There are so many elements which combine to make for a brilliant reading experience, among them the relationships depicted between the characters, especially Ender and Alai and Ender and Bean. It's sometimes easy to forget that they're only children, albeit hugely gifted ones.
Ender's Game was written in 1985, before the internet came to power. So it was brilliant to read what he'd written about the 'nets', even though they were described as considerably different from what we know today. During Ender's stay at Battle and Command School, his older brother and sister Peter (12) and Valentine (10) set out to master the nets - and the world. I absolutely adored this part of the book, because it utterly fulfilled my childhood dream of taking over the world through writing. (Everyone has that dream - right?). It's probably no longer realistic to take over the world that fast through the internet because of the endless sea of bloggers (don't I know how hard it is to get one noticed), but it was perfect to read about.
The final war with the buggers was really well written also. Surprisingly enough, I didn't see the twist coming, although others did. If I'm completely honest, I didn't like the few days after the battle. But that's not because of a fault with the book, it's because I care so much about Ender and no Card what are you doing? Upon the second reading I actually grew to like the conclusion a lot more because I understood why it had to happen.
Oh Orson Scott Card, I really wanted to reader-worship you. But you're a homophobic bigot, and I just can't respect you for that. Nevertheless, this book is an exciting, well-written masterpiece and I highly recommend it.