Wednesday, April 13, 2011

Ender's Game by Orson Scott Card

Ender's Game by Orson Scott Card
Sci-Fi (Now it's considered YA, but originally, it wasn't)
Spoiler: A little
Rating: PG
Coffee Beans: 2/5

I’m not quite sure how I feel about Ender’s Game right now. I just finished it on Sunday and I waited a little while for everything to sink in before I decided to tell you my thoughts. I know it’s supposed to be this awe-inspiring, best-book-of-all-time story, but I wasn’t left with that impression. It could be that I’m not that big of a sci-fi fan (except for Dune and Myst), but I think mostly it was because I don’t think the story was well told.

For starters, me, as the reader, was thrown into a world I know nothing about with terms that left me clueless, and was given a mysterious conversation between two unknown people about something I knew nothing about. This abuse was done to me before every chapter. This alone left me scratching my head, trying to figure out what was going on.

Then, when I was introduced to the MC – Ender (short for Andrew), I find out that he’s 6-years-old and a genius. It was strange reading a book with the MC being a toddler. But Card played a sly trick in making Ender and all the children in the book geniuses, that way it was easier to relate to him, and I found myself forgetting his age.

Eventually (by about chapter 4 or 5) I felt pretty comfortable with what was going on in the storyline (although the mysterious conversations at the beginning of each chapter still left me puzzled). The book takes place in the distant future, on a population-controlled Earth after the Second Invasion of the Buggers (an alien breed of giant ant-like creatures). The human race won each invasion, and now they’re preparing for the third, and hopefully final, battle.

Kid-geniuses are taken from their families at a young age and enrolled in Battle School in outer space. The government has been breeding and testing and hoping that their savior will be among one of the enrolled, and they think they’ve found him in Ender. Ender leaves behind his parents, sister Valentine, and older, evil brother, Peter (Card does an a-ma-zing job of making me hate Peter from the first time he’s introduced into the storyline.)

Ender’s amazing and special in every way possible. He’s strong, smart, fast, resilient and perfect. Whenever a problem is introduced, he figures out a way not only to fix it, but annihilate it. And I think that’s why I didn’t really care for Ender. The author tried to give me little things to like Ender, to feel sorry for him—his brother is evil, he’s all alone and isolated, people hate him because he’s perfect, and so on. But all that did for me was make him an unbelievable character.

The book covers a time span of about 20 or so years, with the majority of it hovering over the 6 or 7 years of Ender’s life in Battle School. While there, he’s trained to be the best commander in existence, Earth’s last and only hope of defeating the Buggers for good. Ender knows this and goes with it, even though he’s afraid it’s turning him into something he doesn’t want to be: Peter. But he trudges on. There’s a lot of manipulating that goes on. A lot of lying. And a lot of Ender being the perfect military machine, never fighting back or saying no to the things he knows are wrong, even though it’s destroying his 10-year-old self on the inside.

Card spends the next 4 or so, pretty detailed, chapters on Valentine and Peter back on Earth. They’re trying to take over the world. Literally. They create online persona’s who take opposite sides of politics and discuss current events--mainly Russia’s plan to dissolve the Warsaw Pact.

And guess what? Yup, you got it. It works. Peter takes over rule and miraculously becomes the leader of the known world, leaving his evil, manipulating, squirrel mutilating self behind. Bull pucky. A sociopath like Peter wouldn’t be able to, physically or mentally, change that much.

But, Valentine and Peter’s online persona’s and what they fight for takes no significant part in the book (other than Card needed a reason for the nations to be on the verge of war—which, hey, would happen anyway—which, looking back on the story, I don’t even see as being relevant. It’s almost like he needed this one small thing to happen, and he concocted this unneeded, elaborate scheme to get it done. Sorry, I rambled a bit there.). Even when all their “hard work” pays off, it is only mentioned once towards the end, and I think what Card used it as could’ve been accomplished without that part being in the book.

Another thing that bothered me was the POV that Card told the story from—everyone’s head at once. I know that it’s accepted in writing, but I don’t recommend it. I was head-hopping so much (the majority of the time in Ender’s, though), I didn’t connect with anyone. Also, there was A LOT of narrative. Which--to me—is boring. Give me dialogue, I say!

Whew! Glad I got that off my chest. I won’t tell you the end, in case you want to read it for yourself. Overall, it was okay. I don’t think I’d read it again, though. Nor would I recommend it to a friend. But, now I can say, “I’ve read Ender’s Game, and it was ‘eh’ *shrug of shoulders*.”

--Me

2 comments:

  1. Orson Scott Card is a bigot. Reading this book infuriated me as I was unprepared for it. "Bugger" is a British slang term for homosexual. So the entire plot is literally this homophobic rant on how only through the culling of genius children will humans have the ability to overcome the threat that homosexuality presents to mankind. And when he saves the Bugger queen...that's just Orson saying that gay people are inferior to humans and should be pitied.

    ReplyDelete
  2. Seriously?! And I just thought it was a bad book....

    ReplyDelete