by Orson Scott Card
Genres: Science Fiction, Young Adult
Format: eBook (352 pages)
In order to develop a secure defense against a hostile alien race's next attack, government agencies breed child geniuses and train them as soldiers. A brilliant young boy, Andrew "Ender" Wiggin lives with his kind but distant parents, his sadistic brother Peter, and the person he loves more than anyone else, his sister Valentine. Peter and Valentine were candidates for the soldier-training program but didn't make the cut—young Ender is the Wiggin drafted to the orbiting Battle School for rigorous military training.
Is Ender the general Earth needs? But Ender is not the only result of the genetic experiments. The war with the Buggers has been raging for a hundred years, and the quest for the perfect general has been underway for almost as long. Ender's two older siblings are every bit as unusual as he is, but in very different ways. Between the three of them lie the abilities to remake a world. If, that is, the world survives.
I haven’t read Ender’s Game since high school. On re-reading it as an adult, I found it just as page-turning and thought provoking as I did the first time. The biggest thing that stood out to me were all the paradoxes.
Sometimes lies were more dependable than the truth.
– Orson Scott Card Ender’s Game pg 2
The biggest paradox was the contrast between the brothers Ender and Peter. To completely defeat an enemy, do you need to understand and empathize with them so well that you know what will really hurt them? To bring complete peace, do you need to be the kind of person that would think of all the ways to destroy peace in the first place? I had never thought about the fact that even good characteristics can become evil simply based on how we use them. Empathy can be used just as effectively to hurt others as to help them.
“In the moment when I truly understand my enemy, understand him well enough to defeat him, then in that very moment I also love him. I think it’s impossible to really understand somebody, what they want, what they believe, and not love them the way they love themselves. And then, in that very moment when I love them—”
“You beat them.” […]
“No, you don’t understand. I destroy them.”
-Orson Scott Card Ender’s Game p. 238
Ender’s Game also had me pondering why we even fight wars in the first place. On re-reading it, I empathized with the aliens that attack earth even more this time. Is a lack of communication and understanding the only real reason for war? Ender’s simple, childlike way of viewing how pointless war is makes for a really good question because it’s so simple. Why CAN’T we leave each other alone?
I’m doing it again, thought Ender. I’m hurting people again, just to save myself. Why don’t they leave me alone, so I don’t have to hurt them?
– Orson Scott Card Ender’s Game pg 115
Ender is such a likable character. This story wouldn’t have worked without telling it from his point of view. His actions paint him to be ruthless and uncaring. But seeing his thoughts and dreams made me realize that he is a very caring and smart person who’s biggest goal in life is to really just be left in peace and have friends. And the fact that these dreams are so close but just out of reach kept me turning the page waiting waiting waiting for when (and really if) he would ever get them.
As driven and smart as Ender is, you can still see his innocence because the way he views the world is not the way that adults do. It was fascinating to read this first as a teen and now as an adult. I saw the ending from Ender’s point of view the first time and I was confused along with Ender. This time I saw the ending from the perspective of the adults and was saddened that I could see what Ender couldn’t.
Overall, this was an unforgettable novel that every fan of science fiction should read.
Content Rating: Medium, for violence, some language including one use of strong language (the n word.)