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Ender's Game (The Ender Quintet) Paperback – August 15, 1992
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Ender's skills make him a leader in school and respected in the Battle Room, where children play at mock battles in zero gravity. Yet growing up in an artificial community of young soldiers Ender suffers greatly from isolation, rivalry from his peers, pressure from the adult teachers, and an unsettling fear of the alien invaders. His psychological battles include loneliness, fear that he is becoming like the cruel brother he remembers, and fanning the flames of devotion to his beloved sister. Back on Earth, Peter and Valentine forge an intellectual alliance and attempt to change the course of history.
This futuristic tale involves aliens, political discourse on the Internet, sophisticated computer games, and an orbiting battle station. Yet the reason it rings true for so many is that it is first and foremost a tale of humanity; a tale of a boy struggling to grow up into someone he can respect while living in an environment stripped of choices. Ender's Game is a must-read book for science fiction lovers, and a key conversion read for their friends who "don't read science fiction."
Ender's Game won both the Hugo and the Nebula the year it came out. Writer Orson Scott Card followed up this honor with the first-time feat of winning both awards again the next year for the sequel, Speaker for the Dead. --Bonnie Bouman
- Publisher : Tor Books; 1st edition (August 15, 1992)
- Language : English
- Paperback : 256 pages
- ISBN-10 : 0312853238
- ISBN-13 : 978-0312853235
- Lexile measure : 780L
- Item Weight : 12.8 ounces
- Dimensions : 6.25 x 0.72 x 9.35 inches
- Best Sellers Rank: #803,461 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)
- Customer Reviews:
Top reviews from the United States
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I prefer books to movies simply because I feel I could learn more. And because movies are more easily censored. It is unfortunate. And also, I want to decide what I can and cannot handle in a book. Not the PC police.
And in fact, I bought the hardcopy HOPING it was the original because I don't want censored changes in my books now that kindle books are more popular (and easily changed). But alas, it is not to be.
Edit: BUT JUST FYI, the kindle book is written with the original lines for some reason. The audiobook is the new updated censored version. I have both. Just keep in mind.
Does this book really need another review? Probably not. Clearly, Ender’s Game is the mark of an excellent sci-fi read, so a lot of people probably agree with my assessment of Card’s work. But let me just say, any book that has aliens (check), really really ridiculously smart children (check), a fast-paced and interesting plot line (check), action and battle and war! (check), and beautiful writing (check), should be read.
Basic premise of the book: future dystopian world undergoing population control. The world has been attacked by aliens and humans were so scared, they decided to track down and wipe the aliens out. But they realized adult reflexes were too slow and their decisions weren’t ruthless enough. So they created a battle school to find the smartest, most ruthless and most strategic of kids, and so they found Ender. To train him, they used games simulating battles they were actually having in space and they were amazed at the choices he made. Through video games, they were able to make Ender into a perfect military leader.
I won’t tell any more than that because I don’t want to spoil the book. But if you find yourself thinking “why is this kid so freaking important to these battle school leaders”, at least you will understand going in. Definitely read it. I’ve read it twice now and it still amazes me.
The librarian eventually nabbed me, and asked what sort of books I liked reading. For some reason that I still can't explain to this day, I thought that all the "cool" kids read science fiction. So that's what I said.
"Then you should read this book," she told me, handing me a fairly worn copy of 'Ender's Game,' and telling me that she loved it enough to re-read it every year.
I wasn't thrilled with it, to be honest. The cover seemed kind of hokey. It smelled funny (hey, I was a kid). I had no idea what a "Hugo" or "Nebula" award might be. But the bell was ringing, testing would begin shortly, and I was kind of stuck for options. I checked out the book, and went on my way.
I've always been a fast test taker, and so about an hour into a three-hour test I was done and bored. I opened the book and started reading. And a two hours later I was done.
Up to that point, I'd read tons of books—mostly of the "Tales of a Fourth Grade Nothing" and "Encyclopedia Brown" variety. This was the first "grownup" fiction I'd ever read. And I was hooked. I went on to read everything I could find by Orson Scott Card. I wrote tons of short stories as creative writing assignments, all featuring Battle School or Ender himself. And I took what was a sorta-hobby of writing short stories and "books" (very short books, I assure you) and ended up turning it into a lifelong pursuit.
And, like the librarian, I've taken to re-reading this book every year. I've given away more copies of this single book than I can count. And I've owned every English-language version of it ever released. It's a benchmark, life-shaping book for me.
'Ender's Game' was the book that taught me that books could be what you do for a living. And for that, I'm incredibly grateful. My only regret is that I can't give it more than five stars.
Top reviews from other countries
The character of Ender is a bit overpowered. He's very strong for his size and super intelligent. He hardly ever fails and he makes enemies because he's so perfect. There is however a lot of depth in his character and he is clearly in pain. The novel lacks any good tension and the climax is a bit disappointing. For a book with so many accolades it fails to meet my expectation.
The characterisation of the book manages to be both simplistic, but at the same time deeply inconsistent. The children - and bear in mind this book deals largely with prepubescent-to-pubescent children - tend to near-robotic rationality, interspersed seemingly at random with sporadic outbreaks of normal childlike behaviour.
People are either monstrous, such as Peter, or Ender's various bullies, or they are saintly, like the much-persecuted Ender and his sister. The only middle ground is occupied by Ender's parents, who swiftly depart the scene in a display of too-convenient moral cowardice, and Ender's tutors, who's abuse and neglect of Ender is supposed to transform him into some sort of super-leader by isolating him from his peers and forcing him to develop his talents.
In reality, Ender is being saved by an extremely strong dose of author fiat, as actions which would actually stunt a child's intellectual development (stress hormones, social isolation and fatigue) somehow magically cause genius to sprout.
Frequent mention is made of Alexander, though the author's historical illiteracy is such that he does not appear to have actually read Arrian, appearing to not realise that Alexander was raised in an environment of immense wealth and privilege, amongst a cadre of young men he could trust deeply, while being closely tutored by the finest mind of his age, as opposed to being largely isolated from those he was supposed to lead, allowed no personal possessions, subject to harassment and violence and repeatedly subject to stress and fatigue.
The one similarity with Alexander shared by Ender is the weakness of his opponents: Ender seemingly being the only boy amongst his peers capable of adapting to zero-gravity fighting and optimising one's positioning around the mechanics of the game they play. It is perhaps unfair to criticise Scott Card on this, as he lived in an era before mass online gaming, and likely did not know exactly how efficient large groups of people given a competitive incentive are at developing novel ways of doing so.
Humanity's adversaries are inanely named "The buggers", a reference to their insectoid origins. This absurd title quite neatly destroys any menace or gravitas they might hold over the reader. The reasons for the conflict are expropriated from Joe Haldeman's Forever War: the hive mind species's inability to communicate with an individual, while the insectoid nature and the hive mind are taken from Heinlein's Starship Troopers (both dramatically superior books)
The books utterly break down in the last stage, as Ender begins to properly prepare for fighting the enemy proper. Scott Card's complete lack of knowledge of either the theory of zero-g combat nor the basics of air warfare is laid painfully bare for all to see. The reader winds up being told of Ender's genius, not shown it
The final setpiece degenerates into a farce, as Ender's genius for reading people's dishonesty suddenly fails him at the most convenient and implausible moment, and earth's greatest tactician defeats the buggers with a massed frontal assault with obsolete ships, breaking the enemy line by sheer force of deus ex machina to deliver their payload of doomsday weapons onto the enemy's homeworld, wiping out the bugger queen's who have been conveniently concentrated in one place, despite their knowing that humanity has literal planet-killing weapons on their warships.
The elongated epilogue and setup for the second novel is actually far more readable, and partly contribute to the book's second star.
Even though the book primarily revolves around issues of militray / command training, of what it takes and how this could change - the trainees in the book generally start at the age of three or so, joining the academy at around 6 or 7 years old - there is enough societal commentary to make the reader not only focused on the military take pause and think.
Issues of how society is likely to deal with overpopulation, of an uneasy post Cold War world, that is on the verge of returning there, family ties, etc. are all obliquely addressed and add some real richness to the book.
On the military side the author manages to capture some pretty classical post Vietnam US principles, while at the same time relatively presciently describing unmanned combat (even if this is not always clear from the book). As such the book does a good job of examining some of the issues arising from the slow but inexorable change from manned to unmanned systems in warfare - possibly one of the reasons, why it is so widely read in military circles (for those more interested in the subject, Wired for War: The Robotics Revolution and Conflict in the 21st Century is a good non-fiction complement).
The book is part of a series (with Speaker For The Dead: Book 2 in the Ender Saga (The Ender Quartet series) and Xenocide: Book 3 of the Ender Saga (The Ender Quartet series) following) but can easily be read as a stand alone volume.
I would definitely recommend it to all sci-fi fans (especially those prefering a military slant of the genre) and definitely to all readers interested in military / strategy matters more generally. The fact that it is a truly engaging book in addition to being so genre defining is of course an added bonus :)
However, although I thought the story well-written, I didn't totally enjoy it - at it's heart it's about the emotional abuse of children, and in the end that soured something of my reading.
A classic science fiction book that's worth picking up, but one perhaps appreciated more than enjoyed.