Written By: Orson Scott Card
Published By: TOR
Page Count: 324
Published: July 15th, 1994
Link to Purchase (Amazon)
Of all the sci-fi books ever written, few can claim to have the status that ‘Ender’s Game’ has. It is one of the most beloved novels in the entire genre and likely will continue to be for years to come.
Unlike the sequels. And the movie. But we’re not talking about those today.
It is easy to see why this book is a classic. The characters are all interesting, especially Ender himself. Orson Scott Card’s creative voice is very distinct, interesting and engaging. This story is absolutely incredible from beginning to end.
Plot: Digging for Diamonds
This is a story about adults abusing a six-year-old until he either becomes a genius tactician or breaks entirely. I’d be all about that if Ender were your typical brat. But I like the kid, so I just feel bad.
Andrew ‘Ender’ Wiggin is chosen to be part of a secret government experiment, in hopes that he will be able to end a hundred-year long war with an alien race. In order to make him what they need, they’ll push him in increasingly difficult tests, despite the risk of shattering the young boy’s mind. Meanwhile, his two siblings begin making strides against him, stacking the odds further. Can Ender overcome everything and save humanity? Or will he break, and the human race with him?
This is not a book to read if you want to feel good. Practically every scene boils down to ‘How are we going to ruin Ender’s day this time?’ It gets pretty depressing pretty quickly.
But that makes it all the more satisfying when Ender bounces right back.
This is not a fast-paced story by any stretch of the imagination. It takes a lot of time, slowly making its way through Ender’s story as he slowly but surely becomes a much stronger person. Each arc of the story, while highly engaging, does take it’s time getting set up, executing on that setup, and wrapping it all up.
It helps that the cast is all very deep and interesting. Some characters seem one-dimensional, such as Ender’s siblings, but develop into wildly complex and interesting people that drive the story along beautifully. Ender himself is an extremely likable protagonist with a very satisfying arc. The cast all play off of each other masterfully and make this story well worth reading.
Voice: Breakdown of the Mind
Orson Scott Card is great at many things in terms of writing. He has an eye for detail in his descriptions, and he knows the perfect amount of information to convey. But all of that pales in comparison to his mind for characters.
Card has a masterful hand at making you understand and empathize with his characters. Often times, after an exchange of dialogue, we look directly into that character’s head to see what they really think. Sometimes it aligns with what they said, making it clear that they are very honest. Other times, it is completely different, masterfully showing the audience that this character is a liar.
He is also the master of subverting expectations in an interesting and satisfying way. As mentioned earlier, he sets up certain characters to be boring and one-dimensional only to turn around and reveal that they’re far deeper than we had believed. And of course: there’s the ending.
Holy shit that fucking ending is nuts! It is utterly shocking while still being satisfying and logical! There are very few writers capable of writing such a conclusion. It is absolutely incredible.
If you want to read good science-fiction, there are few books as good as ‘Ender’s Game’. From its story to its characters, everything in this book withstands the test of time. It is, in every sense of the word, a classic.
I would highly recommend ‘Ender’s Game’. It is a spectacular story that everyone should experience at some point in their lives. Sure, it isn’t much of a feel-good story. But it is certainly one of undeniable quality.
Until the sequels happened and took a one-way road into Insanity Town. But we don’t talk about those.