310 of 349 people found the following review helpful
The Epitome of Science Fiction,
This review is from: Ender's Game (The Ender Quintet) (Mass Market Paperback)
This was a book recommended to me by a friend who also happened to tell me the ending before I read it. Remind me to give him a nasty stare!
Anyway, this book starts off with a rather long introduction which the author wrote himself about his influences and motivation for writing Ender's Game. The author has had the idea of a Battle Room since he was sixteen. Only much later did he piece together the story of Ender and his mission to save the earth.
Ender Wiggin is a special boy. He is the youngest (6 yrs old when the story starts) of a family of child geniuses (Peter being the eldest, then Valentine). This story is set in the future where aliens (called Buggers because of their physical and mental traits) have tried to invade the earth twice. Twice the Earth defeated them, but at great cost. The government is scrambling to make sure this never happens again by training the next set of star fleet commanders from childhood.
In this futuristic world, only the government could sanction the birth of a third child (for population control reasons). In a way, Ender was born for a purpose. Peter and Valentine were both tested for giftedness and they both possessed it; however, he was ruthless and evil, and she was too soft and kind. Ender was a perfect balance of decisiveness and innocence, and so chosen from the beginning to go through Battle School. It is in Battle School that Ender learns military strategy and the history of wars between the Earth and the Buggers. It is also in Battle School that Ender makes friends and molds the perfect platoon leaders.
What's really unique about this story is that Ender is forced to grow up so quickly by the "adults." The teachers of the school and high government officials all have one thought in their minds. And that is to eliminate the alien threat at all costs. Even if it means sacrificing the health and sanity of a child. Ender is subjected to so much isolation and abuse throughout the story, that I felt really bad for him. He has to learn to think like an adult through the eyes of a child. His biggest fear is becoming like his brother Peter (who, in Ender's eyes, is a cold blooded killer -- keep in mind that we're talking about the thoughts of a child who hasn't even reached puberty) is slowly becoming a self-fulfilling prophecy as he matures. The ending of this story is just amazing. I will not give it away!
I recommended this book to a 13 year old boy before having finished the book. Now I'm thinking twice about my recommendation. Although this book's main characters are children and centers around the premise that child geniuses will save the world, there are a lot of adult themes and references to ancient history that probably only an adult would appreciate. I believe references to the Warsaw Pact, the League of Nations, Locke and Demosthenes will confuse the younger readers. Also the themes of murder, deception, isolation, rules of engagement in battle might be viewed as inappropriate by parents for their kids. With this in mind, I urge the reader to consider the maturity of the intended audience before recommending this book even though this is a terrific story.
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Showing 1-10 of 10 posts in this discussion
Initial post: Sep 22, 2010 7:59:29 PM PDT
M. Richardson says:
Hey, I really like this book as well, but... the "epitome" of science fiction?
How much science fiction have you read?
In reply to an earlier post on Sep 22, 2010 9:26:11 PM PDT
Alvin Tanhehco says:
Hi, thanks for leaving a comment. It's been a while since I wrote this, and many books I've read since. You're right that it's probably not fair to say that it's the "epitome" of science fiction, but it probably is fair to say that it is the epitome of the whole Ender series. Happy reading!
Posted on Oct 17, 2010 5:13:35 AM PDT
Thanks for a very good, clear review, and for not giving away the ending. 8)
I started reading adult-level SF when I was 10, though I didn't discover Ender's Game until college. If I'd read it at age 13 (or 10), I would have loved it. True, at that age I wouldn't have understood some of the references, but I wouldn't have found them confusing; I'd simply have absorbed them. It wasn't until years after I read Silverberg's The Man in the Maze that I learned it was based on the Sophocles play Philoctetes, but I nonetheless had enjoyed the Silverberg work as its own story -- and later enjoyed reading Philoctetes with the Silverberg retelling in mind.
I seem to recall hearing that a junior high librarian called Ender's Game the school's "most replaced" book ever. I recently recommended it to my 11-year-old nephew, and I bet your 13-year-old friend (I just realized this is a 2002 review -- he's now 21!) thought it was terrific.
Posted on Sep 17, 2011 2:51:00 PM PDT
S. Reingold says:
I like how you reviewed the book, but the last paragraph startled me... A 13 year old is more than capable of handling the references in this book. And children who love reading (I think I might have read this at the same age!) are intrigued by references they don't know, not rebuffed. It makes them get off their butt and want to look up Demosthenes! We certainly don't need to coddle younger readers.
Posted on Dec 18, 2012 8:15:33 AM PST
I don't think you should worry too much about recommending it to a 13 year old. I read it when I was 12 based on a recommendation I got in Barnes and Noble, and it's become one of my all time favorite books. I'm pretty sure it didn't scar me. I think if a kid is patient enough to get through the beginning and has the reading skills it takes to get through the book, they'll probably understand the deeper implications of the novel as well.
Posted on Apr 23, 2013 12:24:49 PM PDT
Last edited by the author on Apr 24, 2013 1:50:36 AM PDT
Enopoletus Harding says:
How is a world with coercive population control measures "futuristic"? The idea behind coercive population control measures is older than the 18th century and has been refuted for well over two hundred years. As the world population growth rate peaked some fifty years ago, coercive population control measures are in no way "futuristic".
Posted on Jun 2, 2013 6:13:49 PM PDT
For a bit of perspective, that 13 year old would be 24 by now. How did they turn out?
Posted on Jun 3, 2013 6:32:39 AM PDT
Posted on Jul 10, 2013 8:35:16 AM PDT
L. Remmell says:
Well if the young 13 year old or teenagers do not know about Locke, The League of Nations (the precursor of the UN), the Warsaw Pact, they can easily research that on the internet or in the library. It is called learning.
Posted on Aug 25, 2013 5:36:56 PM PDT
Abhigyan Dasgupta says:
Good review! In case you're curious, Orson Scott Card originally wrote this with adults in mind. It was an extension of his original novella/short story that he required in order to set the rest of the Ender series in motion (specifically, Speaker for the Dead, which is the "real" book in his mind). However, if you read his introduction to Speaker for the Dead, you'll know that he also does not find it surprising that Ender's Game was so loved by teenagers, mostly because it is also a bildungsroman about children and growing up, among many other things.
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