Ender’s Game by Orson Scott Card. Published 1985. 325 pages.
Ask and ye shall receive. I have so many reviews to get through I figured I might as well do the one someone asked me to do. I also finished this book so long ago I switched notebooks and had to go digging around for the one my initial thoughts were written in.
Ender’s Game was one of the books on my TBR the longest. I’ve had it forever but never got around to it. Then suddenly, all I wanted to read was SciFi, and I figured hey, what a good opportunity to knock this thing off the list?
(It may be beneficial to note I read this book almost entirely in a parking lot before I went to work and while watching Red Sox games on TV).
A few years ago I watched the last twenty minutes of the movie they made in 2013. I had no idea what was going on then (besides the enemy being giant bugs), and it gave my only a vague idea of the end game of the novel. But I’ll tell you what, for most of it I had no idea how the end of the movie was going to set up by first 2/3rds of the novel. Not the faintest notion of how the dots were going to connect.
The dots did connect, eventually, and that brings me to my thoughts on the book as a whole: it was just ok. Orson Scott Card, in addition to being a not-great human being is not the most eloquent of writers. His prose behaves like a block of wood. Not like Plank from Ed, Edd, and Eddy, but a literal, soulless block of wood. And the plot drags on forever in weird places; so much time is spent on the nuances of children fighting in zero-gravity, which turns out to not really matter in the end.
In fairness, I haven’t read much science fiction at all. Maybe it’s supposed to be that way. But I can say for sure it wasn’t doing good things for me.
I also have a major problem with what is one of the key plot points: the kids don’t act like kids even a little. Personally, I’m a huge fan of novels with children as the main character, and I know it can be done very well. I understand the “loss of innocence” is an important theme, but the way the characters acted was so unrealistic it pulled me right out of the story. For reference, Ender is supposed to be something like eight years old at the start. No wonder they were aged up for the movie.
It shouldn’t come as a surprise that my favorite part was the completely unnecessary subplot where Ender’s siblings Valentine and Peter plot to take over the world— literally.
Ultimately, I don’t think it’s all it’s cracked up to be. This novel tries very hard to make everything make sense, to the point where it sacrifices character and prose to do so. There’s better classics out there, better science fiction, too (The Left Hand of Darkness, anyone?). I’d say you’re better off spending time and money on something else.