This week I had the absolute pleasure of reading “Ender’s Game” by Orson Scott Card. I had seen the movie adaptation prior and due to the book’s popularity, I was aware of the major plot twist. I thought that it may ruin the first time reading experience for me in some way but was pleasantly surprised. Avoid the mistake of assuming you have the full idea of “Ender’s Game” if your only exposure to the story is through the movie or a short review such as this.
This is a book that you struggle to put down once you start reading and when you get to the end, you want to pick up and immediately begin on the next entry in the series. Ender’s journey, the creativity used in developing the war games, and the descriptions of zero gravity battles being had by spacesuit clad children makes this story a sci-fi legend. Forcing adolescents to become uncharacteristically mature and putting them in charge of real battle to make the quick judgments and moves that were impossible for aged veterans is a wonderful premise for a story.
This is one of the best science fiction books I have ever read.
A quick summary:
The book follows Ender from an extremely eary age, through to the end of his career in which he is still a preteen. When Ender was born his destiny was predetermined. He was to command the fleet responsible for saving humanity.
Where his promising siblings failed to make the cut due to being either too heartless like his brother Peter, or too caring like his sister Violet, Ender’s parents were allowed a third in the population controlled society. This was in the hopes that he would be a mix of the previous two children.
Ender’s character is heavily developed while in Battle School, where his skills are learned and sharpened. Quickly rising above the other recruits and proven to be exceptional at developing new strategies, Ender is eventually awarded his own army which wins the war simulations repeatedly. His flawless score in the games are not earned easily, as his internal struggle to avoid being like Peter clashes with his focus on becoming an effective leader. To become the perfect tool for the military Ender learns when to be violent, and that sacrifices are necessary. Coming to terms with those realities pull at him constantly.
While Ender’s siblings on Earth manipulated their way into leadership and politics through the use of anonymous online personas, Ender used his genius to become the best military strategist and commander that had ever existed. He moves on from Battle School to Command School, where he believes he is being trained to be “The” commander of Earth’s forces. Only after Ender completes his final test is it revealed that he has been tricked into eliminating the entire race of the buggers. Unknown to Ender, the fleet he controlled and commanded during the final test was not a simulation, neither were the many battles leading up to this point. Command school as it turned out was not a place to train Ender to become The Commander, he had been the entire time.
In his depression for having commited genocide, Ender joins his sister and a group of colonizers in forwarding humanities’ expansion into the stars. While scouting for a suitable place to form a new settlement, the location of a dormant queen egg is revealed to him. Ender begins his search for an appropriate place to establish a new home to regrow the species when Ender gains the understanding that the buggers had only attacked Earth with a misunderstanding that the people were sentient.