Tuesday, April 5, 2011

Ender's Game by Orson Scott Card

Plot: A young boy named Ender is taken to Battle School, where he learns to hate "buggers", aliens that attacked humans generations before, and, more importantly, how to fight them. However, Ender is isolated from the other boys as part of a complicated scheme to mold him into the ultimate war commander. He suffers from loneliness, extreme pressure and responsibility, and physical and mental overload. How far will the military go in their efforts to manipulate him into an efficient, unstoppable killing machine?

Comments: It took me a long time to read this book. Much longer than I'd anticipated. Oh, it's just another fantasy book, won't take me but a moment. That was definitely wrong. This book is very difficult to read. Not only is it an intriguing story like nothing I've ever read before, but it's also a powerful tale colored with manipulation, strategics, and child geniuses and soldiers alike. Ender's separation from his family and cruel experiences under military control fill me with pure pity, and I want to apologize to him for all the things he was forced to sacrifice, just to fight a war. I love the friends Ender makes because they make him feel happier, and I hate the immense pressure the military piles on and on until I'm sure Ender will break. You definitely have to take sides in this book.

This book has a good message about violence and humanity. Throughout the story, Ender struggles with understanding who he is and distinguishing himself from his merciless, cruel brother. He doesn't want to kill, doesn't want to be violent at all, but he is never given a choice. Manipulated and influenced heavily, I feel like Ender has no identity by the end of the book - he is only a shell filled with what they want him to be. I wonder who could live with themselves knowing they were destroying a young boy's soul and ruining his life. Yet another lesson, in this elaborately entwined story.

The plot was incredibly interesting and captivating, though the setting stayed rather the same for most of the time. There was quite a bit of confusion, however, while reading this story. Because it's set in the future, with extremely advanced technology and concepts, I wish the author had explained it all a little better, rather than amass everything together and hope you eventually understand. For example, the desks are apparently some kind of electronic computer that can do a seemingly infinite number of useful things. However, I imagined regular wooden desks through the first half of the book, which made several things rather confusing. Also, all the detailed explanations on movement and strategy in the zero gravity rooms were often hard to follow or imagine, having never experienced zero gravity before.

Overall, I think this was a great story. Engaging plot, detailed characters, and important messages. My way of thinking has been changed by reading this book.

Rating: I rate this book a nine out of ten.