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Ender's Game by Orson Scott Card

  (252 ratings)

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Book Information  
AuthorOrson Scott Card
TitleEnder's Game
SeriesEnder
Volume1
Year1985
GenreScience Fiction
 
Book Reviews / Comments (submitted by readers)
 
Submitted by chokipokilo 
(Mar 21, 2009)

After reading/hearing endless praise for this book from readers ranging from junior high school to thirty year-olds with degrees in literature I decided that I would make "Ender's Game" my first attempt to break into SciFi.
First the redeeming qualities. This is an easy read and doesn't take too much intense focus to capture the details. Card's history as a playwright is evident in his use of dialogue, which I consider to be a worthy style of writing, especially since you don't get bogged down in description. This leaves the reader free to imagine the world more on their own and fill in the descriptive gaps. There's also a good deal of action, mainly in the Battle Room, which is clearly Card's main reason for writing the story in the first place.
That leads me to where Ender's Game fell short for me. First, writing a novel about a concept of a battle simulation instead of characters is, in my opinion, a terrible place to start. While the Battle Room was well thought out, the plot certainly was not. For characters we get a boy genius, and his sister and brother (also prodigies). Not a bad start, except that the extent of the genius of these children is simply too much. Most criticism I've read for Ender's Game is based on it being unrealistic. For me it's not the the book is unrealistic, that's why you read SciFi and fantasy in the first place. The problem is that the unrealism hurts the story and the advancement of the characters. The three child prodigies are flat out too smart. It's one thing for an intelligent child to succeed easily over their average peers, but in this case Ender is so genius that he succeeds in everything he does with very little actual effort. He easily dominates everyone at Battle School, despite the fact that it is a school for geniuses and most of the children he's contesting have a wealth of age and experience advantage. Besides unrealism this also makes for terrible rising action, as the character really doesn't struggle at all. Sure Card tries to pretend he's struggling with being accepted...at first...and that he's nervous about retaliations from other children. These problems are just as easily overcome as the Battle Room challenges, leaving not a hint of suspense throughout the story. I think it would have been better if Ender lost some games and had to work harder and go through trials and failures. Given that he's supposedly at a school exclusively for other child-geniuses, it really wouldn't make him any less of a super-prodigy if he was simply able to barely keep up with his older, more experienced opponents instead of surpassing them with little to no effort, and it would have made the story much more engaging.
I see that a lot of readers say they relate to the characters, and I can only assume they mean Ender since he's really the only character in the book. I find that hard to believe. More likely, these people want to relate to the character Ender because of some inflated sense of grandiosity that plagues most teenagers. Only a handful of people in history really relate to Ender; Alexander the Great and Albert Einstein are a couple of examples, since they had that same level of genius that defied any sort of rationality. As for me, I couldn't relate to Ender at all, probably because I'm not a genius and have no illusions as such.
I don't know if Card has ever heard of rising action or climax, but his novel was devoid of either. The end came too abruptly and in exactly the same fashion I had begun to expect at that point. No sense of suspense whatsoever. Besides that, this book seems to be written for children but with scattered grown-up themes. The writing is simply too basic, and it astounds me how many adults with experience in real literature recommend this book.
As for the political storyline of Ender's brother and sister, I think it should have been taken out of the novel completely. It barely relates to the main plotline in any way. Card chose for this portion to take the easy route and not include any of the actual politics being described and simply tell us that something is happening because of Peter's plan. He could have deleted about seventy pages and simply said, "the children used their genius and the internet to become powerful names in the political structure." That one sentence encompasses the whole chapter, which, as I've stated already, is basically irrelevent. I'd recommend to anyone reading the book to skip that absurdly long chapter altogether.
In the end I felt Ender's Game is underserving of all the hype it gets. Little plot, no buildup or suspense, not much in the way of pros, basic writing style, unnecessary and lengthy storylines, and an impossibly unrealistic character. If you have graduate junior high school I'd skip this one.


Submitted by Renee 
(May 15, 2007)

My name is Renee and I am a high school student in San Diego. Reading Ender's Game was an assignment for my English Literature class and,honestly, I never would have read the book if it were not. But, I came to understand the story and its characters and enjoy it enough to recommend it to others.
Orson Scott Card is obviously a good science fiction writer because several of his books have been awarded the Hugo and Nebula awards. Ender's Game has rightfully won both of those awards. I enjoyed the book because it was very different from other books I have read. For example, the children in Ender's Game were extremely mature for their age intellectually and their thinking process, but still very childlike in the way they treated their peers. When Ender's 10 year old brother was first introduced, I had to look back and check the children's age because in reality it is unusual for someone so young to have so much rage and jealousy.One thing Card could have improved upon was how he explained the politics. There is a government system reffered to throughout the entire story, but the author never gave enough of an explanation for the reader to get a good understanding.
Although the story takes place over 6 years, it seems to be fast paced because there is always something interesting and different happening so that the reader never gets bored. The characters are very well developed and the 3rd person point of view allows the audience to understand the characters' personality and therefore to become more connected to the book. The characters are not developed through impersonal descriptions, but rather through how they handle their experiences and through their thoughts; which helps to build a solid, instead of a hollow connection with the reader.
The author uses many literary techniques; a few of which are, flashbacks, magic realism, and side story. Throughout the story, Ender has many flashbacks of the different stages of his life which are accompanied by thoughts and emotions that permit the audience to follow Ender's character development. Magic realism is a technique in which events are described realistically, but with strange customs and beliefs. Although many things in Ender's Game are unfamiliar to the
readers; the book takes you into a new reality where you are able to accept the alien threat, differing foreign affairs, and children with no sense of innocence if just temporarily for your enjoyment of the novel. At the beginning of every chapter there is a side story, or narrative, between two varying officers that gives information to show the reader a new side of the story and foreshadow what will happen later in the book; this keeps the reader interested and guessing at how the side story will tie into the major story.
Ender's Game has something for many types of people. The story and the characters are very complex, which allows for a flexible audience in which many different people will enjoy many different aspects of the story. Action lovers will enjoy all the combat and Ender's "win all battles at once" attitude, strategists will like the quick wittedness of the children, and the sensitive types will be sympathetic with Ender until the very end when his troubles are satisfactorily redeemed.


Submitted by Willis, The 14 year old reader 
(Aug 28, 2005)

I first read this book at the age of 9 and it enthralled me. I couldn’t believe that I had never hear of Card before. I have reread this book about 5 times until I could finally have the horror of sending a 6-year-old boy into space, planted in my mind. While reading this book you are treated to a couple of moments where you hear Graph speak about breaking Ender, which was depressing. I have read all the books and this one is overflowing with compassion and understanding of a 6-year-old boy trying not to go crazy with having every person in the world wishing they were him.


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