2012 Sci-Fi Challenge 2 of 7: Ender’s Game

Ender's Game
Ender’s Game
by Orson Scott Card
First published in 1985

Ender Wiggin is Battle School’s latest recruit. His teachers reckon he could become a great leader. And they need one. A vast alien force is headed for Earth. Its mission: the annihilation of all human life. Ender could be our only hope. But first he must survive the most brutal military training programme in the galaxy.

So, on to the second read in this year’s Sci-Fi Challenge. I was really looking forward to reading Ender’s Game, and I was not let down. The book is very character-driven, which I thought was missing from my first sci-fi read this year, Solaris. There was no technical babble, no dry chapters of the history of something or other. The focus was on Ender and what was relevant to him.

Although Ender’s Game wasn’t originally written with the Young Adult audience in mind, it reads very much like a YA book. It also seems that many people have read the book sometime during their high school years or even earlier, so there has to be something that speaks to a younger reader – and I can see the appeal. The book is captivating: the writing is easy to read and the plot is fast-paced and exciting. The character is a young kid in a school-like environment. He is at the mercy of the whims of adults. He painfully stands out from the rest of the students which makes him an object of envy and hate. These are certainly themes that speak to a YA audience.

Ender has so many challenges thrown at him that he will have to solve alone. He’s only six years old when he goes to Battle School, but he has to face older bullies and overcome hardships that would break a weaker mind. I was always interested in seeing how he turns whatever obstacle into a victory for him and his team.

Card manages to make Ender very likeable – I found myself rooting for him from the very beginning of the book. There are the occasional parts from another character’s point of view, but the focus of the book is clearly on Ender. If Ender hadn’t been likeable, it would have been hard to enjoy the book. He is smart and does what needs to be done, but he isn’t ruthless – he cares about his fellow students.

I found it neat that the students use electronic “desks” to do their school work. The desks seem to be linked to a local network and all the programs to reside on a main server. While reading, I couldn’t help but think of the desks as iPad-like tablets and that the completed school assignments were saved to cloud storage. This made the book feel very current in its technology!

Ender gets 4 stars out of 5. The book is really good, and I only ever give 5 stars to my absolute favourite books.

Favourite character: Ender. I found him an utterly fascinating main character.

Next up: Most probably The Quantum Thief by Hannu Rajaniemi

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