Thursday, September 26, 2013

Ender's Game, by Orson Scott Card

Roughly a decade ago I read Ender's Game not by choice, but rather was required reading for my school. Of course, the English teacher I had ignored Ender's Game entirely and chose to focus exclusively on Fahrenheit 451. Of course, both are good books and have excellent points to make, but I remember liking Ender's Game a lot better. Probably because I didn't get as many of the subtle nuances in Fahrenheit 451. The important point of this diatribe is that there is currently an Ender's Game movie due to be released November 1st so I decided to take this as a prime opportunity to go back and re-read Ender's Game and maybe look at the rest of the Ender series at the same time. 

For those of you not already familiar with the story, it follows the education of Ender Wiggin, a child believed to be humanity's last hope in the impending Third War between the humans and the buggers. Ender is taken to Battle School and put through extensive military training and subjected by his instructors to extreme adversity. Throughout the novel the human leaders have strike a delicate balance because if Ender isn't ready for the invasion, humanity will probably be completely wiped out, but if they put too much strain on Ender they may wreck their best chance at survival. It's a very tightly-paced novel and I found myself flying through it. Definitely worth a read before the movie comes out in November. 

To Scott's credit, what I think he can really write well is children, especially dialog between children. As I mentioned in my review of The Lost Gate, for whatever reason Scott is really able to nail down the attitudes and mannerisms of adolescents and put that into word form. Some people would argue that the kids in Ender's Game don't talk like kids normally do, but I counter that it's exactly how kids talk when there are no adults around. As much of a stereotype as it is at this point, you really only need to go onto X-box live to hear thirteen year olds shout racial slurs at each other, and in a way I feel like that's almost exactly the sort of people who would get picked for Battle School. 

As a book, Ender's Game has meant a lot of things to a lot of people, although I only really know this from the introduction. As I'm not a trained literary critic I very seldom go beyond the surface text into all the hidden nuances and shades of meaning. Either that or I'm just thick, take your pick. For me, Ender's Game has always been a really good sci-fi pulp adventure that relies on a lot of familiar, if perhaps a little well-worn tropes. The bug war, which we seem almost destined to have, massive space battles, and a world government formed from the threat of extraterrestrial attack. However, and for reasons I can't really divulge without spoiling the book, Ender's Game still has its own unique charm that makes it stand out from the regular sci-fi pulp. 

I would definitely recommend you all check this book out before going to see the movie. I'm hoping the movie will do the book a great deal of justice, but as always I am wary. 

- Kalpar  

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