A sci-fi classic that I have been interested in for a while now, and bumped up on my reading list because I heard there was movie coming out! And I love it when books get turned into movies, regardless if it turns out good or bad. Of course, after I finished reading it, I realized the movie isn’t until much later this year so I needn’t have rushed. Oh well! I’m glad to have read this book anyway, even though it wasn’t exactly everything I dreamed it to be, it was still good.
Ender’s Game takes place in the far future. Humans are involved in a sort of turf war with an alien race of insect-like creatures, and the humans are seriously outnumbered. The war is close, but now humanity’s only hope rests upon the shoulders of one genius six year old boy — Andrew “Ender” Wiggin. Ender is a “third” — in this future, there is a population policy where only two kids are allowed per family, except in cases where the government deems the family to have good genes and can have a third child. Ender’s older brother and sister are brilliant geniuses as well, but not good enough for the government. However, Ender checks out and is taken to Battle School, where he is to be trained for years to become a commander that will hopefully defeat the aliens once and for all.
So, the story sounds a little funky and in some ways, it is. It has strong themes in childhood, military, human relationships and is a coming-of-age story as well. I really loved the messages this book brought about regarding these themes. I thought they were interesting and thought provoking, especially watching Ender’s personality change throughout his years in Battle School. He went from being a pretty nice but sheltered boy who was bullied and picked on, to a tough, no-nonsense kind of boy. The other characters were interesting as well, and I wish there was more on Ender’s brother and sister, Peter and Valentine. They were secondary characters who had their own plot too, but I felt there wasn’t much about them. It was a shame because the three siblings’ relationship is so complex and interesting. They both feared Peter, and as for Peter, I couldn’t really tell if he loved his siblings or wanted to kill them.
Other aspects of the story were kind of strange from a realistic point of view. For example: you definitely have to understand that Ender and the rest of his battle school classmates are not normal six, seven, eight, etc. year olds. These are geniuses that the government has monitored for years, or the government has persuaded certain families to give birth to. Ender and his classmates certainly do not act like you would expect of children. Many times I forgot they were even children! There is a little explanation throughout the book as to why the government/military can only use children for commanders, which kind of made sense from a philosophical or theoretical point of view. But then later, you’re like, “But … he’s six!” (Or eleven, or however old he was at the time).
Overall, I enjoyed this book. It does feel kind of dated when you’re reading it, the same way you can read a Jane Austen novel and know it must be old because of the language used. I don’t think I enjoyed it enough to continue reading the series — maybe, if I get free copies or something — but I do look forward to the movie and seeing how they will interpret everything on the big screen.