Ender’s Game (1985) – Orson Scott Card

This book won both the Hugo and Nebula awards. It is usually rated very highly in “Best of Science Fiction” lists and reviews. It is well written and easy to read. Some parts of it are exciting, other parts are emotionally moving. A lot of praise has been heaped on it. But something about it just didn’t work for me.

Ender is only six years old at the beginning of the story. He is just a young child and it is (mostly) written from his point of view. Being a child and undergoing the experiences he does is one of the main themes of the story. It’s the fact that he is a child that is supposed to make his treatment all the more shocking. Yet for me, he doesn’t feel like a child. He is too intelligent, too calculated, too strategical to ring true. I realise he is supposed to be advanced for his age but I couldn’t connect with him.

Another thing I wasn’t sure about was the “games” or battle training Ender goes through. They were too similar and predictable, in that you know Ender will win again and again. The scenes are well written by the author; you can picture the boys on Ender’s team performing their manoeuvres. There are some great ideas in here. I don’t know. Maybe it’s just me. This is just one person’s opinion after all. But that’s what I want these reviews to be – my reaction to the book, how it made me feel. And this book left me wanting.

I did really enjoy the ending though. I thought it was a very clever idea and it got me thinking about things that had happened earlier on in the story. I don’t want to give too much away so I’ll close here. I want these reviews to be as *spoiler-free* as possible.

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4 thoughts on “Ender’s Game (1985) – Orson Scott Card

  1. It’s on my to read-list, but I fear I’m not going to like it: the set up sounds unbelievable: why would children be better soldiers? Is that explored/explained enough in the book?

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    • It’s not really explained as far as I recall. I got the feeling it was a get-them-while-they’re-young device. But the whole idea of seperating the children from their families is quite scary. Card does explore this theme in the book. It’s a short read by the way.
      It’s interesting that this book always appears highly placed on Best of SF lists. I’d be interested to hear what you think of it.
      Thanks for your comment.

      Liked by 1 person

  2. I recently read CJ Cherryh’s Cuckoo’s Egg, another Hugo contender from the same year, and it’s almost exactly the same set up and twist ending about a warrior child. Cherryh’s is more internal and better, I think, though I read Ender so long ago, but it made me realize that Karate Kid (another “train the kid-warrior” story) came out around the time Ender and Cuckoo were being written and it made me wonder if Card and Cherryh just ran with that idea, or if the concept was some shared ’80s American cultural response to something. End of Cold War; a nation can rest and process its traumatizing loss of innocence from the previous half century.

    Probably stretching that too much, but what a coincidence.

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    • ‘Cuckoo’s Egg’ sounds interesting. I love your review of it. Similarly themed works of art coming into being around the same time. I don’t know about coincidence. Synchronicity? Zeitgeist? A reaction to a loss of innocence sounds like a good call. E.T., too?

      Liked by 1 person

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