Sunday, January 11, 2009
Ender's Game by Orson Scott Card
I recommend this book for: grade 7 and up
I don't read a lot of science fiction, but this is my husband's new favorite book, so I made a deal with him to read it. (I can't say what he's reading in return, but it's one of my favorites that he'd never have picked up on his own.) And I enjoyed it!
Ender Wiggin is 6 years old when he becomes humanity's last hope. Twice, a race of insect-like aliens has tried to invade Earth and wipe out the human race. Earth needs a brilliant military leader to prevent them from coming a third time, and Ender looks like the best bet. He leaves his family and enters Battle School, where in addition to lessons and military strategy, he spends the next years of his life fighting mock battles in zero gravity against other armies of students. He is different from the others, he is a target for bullies, and he is absolutely brilliant.
There were some things I really liked about the book - the major plot twist was beautifully written, in that I completely didn't see it coming, but as soon as it had happened I realized all the foreshadowing that came earlier and that I should have seen it coming. Card has a talent for making you want to read just one more chapter, and the reader gets to see several sides of the more complex characters. All of this was really good.
However, I had trouble relating to Ender - it was difficult to remember that most of the characters were under the age of 12 for most of the book because of the way they spoke and interacted, but Ender was so brilliant it was almost like he wasn't human. No matter what he was up against, he was able to find the answer quickly, and he won far more than he lost. He had some major character flaws as well, so it wasn't that he was perfect - just scarily smart.
Anyway, this was a pretty enjoyable read. The vocabulary and concepts are a bit higher level (I had to look up Hegemon to see what it meant), and parts of the book are political. There are also a few pretty gross/violent moments, which may be a turn-off for some readers, but it's a great choice for anyone even mildly interested in science fiction, and the beginning of a still-growing series.
Other thoughts, plus the first chapter.