Tuesday, July 10, 2007

Ender's Game

It is time to talk about an old friend. Orson Scott Card's Ender's Game. A novel that has become without a doubt my most favorite book in the entire world. Okay, so you might think I'm a bit overly dramatic at times. (I've been told this countless times.) But this time, I really, really mean it. (You still don't believe me, do you?) To begin my life with the beginning of my life, I record that I was born. No, I wasn't born loving Ender's Game, but sometimes it feels like it. (Yes, it was that life-changing.) It was seven years ago. The fall of 2000. I was taking a Master's level class in Children's Literature. The professor was Dr. Betty Carter. Ender's Game was a required book for the class. Up until that point, I had never read a science fiction book. Never heard of Orson Scott Card. Never even heard of the Nebula and Hugo awards. I was in for quite a surprise. I liked it, I really liked it. Melodramatic as it sounds, this book opened up a new world for me. I began to devour anything and everything Orson Scott Card. I began to spend my weekends searching used bookstores for copies of his works. And I began to obsessively check his official website maybe not every day but more than three times a week. I especially fell in love with his "Uncle Orson Reviews Everything" columns. And as my whole family--even extended family--can tell you, I began centering whole conversations around Orson Scott Card. Did you know that he.....Guess what OSC thinks about this....If OSC likes a movie, then I'll see it. (Although I don't always always agree with him on everything.) If he recommends a book, I try to read it. (I especially read it if it's a kid or YA book since that's my passion.) So maybe it's not normal to know what your favorite author likes to watch on tv...but if he chooses to write about it...then I might as well read it and remember it like trivia. Why is Ender's Game such a life-changing book? Yes, it is wonderful. Yes, it is practically perfect in every way. Yes, I could read it a hundred times and never get bored with it. But it did much more than that. Now, when you ask me to list my top ten books...or my top twenty books...it's hard for me not to make the majority of my list Orson Scott Card.

Ender's Game is the novel that started it all. It remains my favorite and my best. My second favorite would probably be Pastwatch: The Redemption of Christopher Columbus.

What makes Ender's Game so perfect? The characters. Yes, there is action. Yes, there is a war. But it is the characters that draw you in. It is Ender and Valentine and Peter that make you keep turning the pages. I think OSC gets characters in a way that few other authors do. He creates thoroughly human characters.

Andrew Wiggin "Ender" shows readers that it is not easy to be a hero. That 'saving the world' demands great sacrifice and selflessness. A hero's life is not a happy life. Yet a hero is what the world needs when the story opens. Set hundreds of years in the future, Ender's Game shows an Earth that has survived two alien invasions. The "Buggers" (an insect-like alien race) have been defeated twice. But the war--though over--carries on. As long as this alien race is out there somewhere, the Earth could still be in danger. Therefore, the world has united as one to fight their common enemy. The brightest and best children are taken from countries all over the world to Battle School. This school is a space station. The children--ranging in age from six to sixteen--are trained from the very beginning by the military. Everything has a purpose--from the "video games" that psychoanalyze each student to the battle games the children play in zero gravity. The military--the powers that be--believe Ender to be the savior that the world has been looking for all these years. And they will devote their lives to ensuring that he becomes exactly the kind of hero they need for the final battle that is to come. The problem? Such training is not healthy psychologically. These children aren't really children. They're being raised to kill and destroy the enemy as defined by the powers that be. They're being taught to hate. They're being taught to love war....to love battle...to love competition. They don't know about love. They don't know about kindness. They don't know about mercy and compassion. Most forget what life was like on Earth altogether. They've forgotten about their families, their homes, their customs. In other words, they've forgotten just why Earth is worth defending and protecting. The war has become a game to them almost. A fight for the sake of fighting.

To read a more in-depth review (also written by me) click here. Although I'll warn you now, there are spoilers. It was written for a class. And in writing assignments like those, it is all about summary and analysis. And you can't analyze a book without discussing the ending!

My Author Study Paper on Orson Scott Card


Sara 6:51 AM  

I can't believe you mentioned Pastwatch. No one ever remembers that one, and I absolutely loved it.

Have you read his book Characters and Viewpoint in the Writer's Digest Elements of Fiction Writing series? I pull that one out, over and over, when I'm struggling with a draft. What I love, especially, is that he shows you how to use characterization and POV to best serve your story, and not as literary ends in themselves. So wise.

Becky 11:21 AM  

I love Pastwatch and will probably reread it soon and blog about it.

Karlene 12:55 PM  

Ender's Game is definitely on my top 10 of all time list as well. I like the Shadow series too. I pretty much like all his books. I've missed a couple lately because I've been working so much I haven't read a lot the past two years, but I'm looking forward to catching up. And I love his website too.

Don't forget to post the link to this review over on this Mr. Linky.

Karlene 12:55 PM  

P.S. Yes, I love Pastwatch too.

Anonymous,  2:20 PM  

I love Ender's Game, too. And the sequels. Bean is my favorite character in the series. And I adore Petra, too. But you're right - the first book is a true classic.

Becky 2:31 PM  

I should be reading and reviewing Ender's Shadow relatively soon. I chose Ender's Game, Ender's Shadow, and Speaker for the Dead for the Book Awards Challenge. I imagine though that all of my Card books will eventually be blogged about.

Unknown 5:41 PM  

I had a similar reaction to you when I first read Ender's Game, but the more I read of OSC, the less I like him. I loved Ender's Game and Speaker for the Dead, but loathed Xenocide and Children of the Mind. Ender's Shadow was good, but after that, the series kind of tanked. I feel like he just doesn't know when to quit. He keeps drawing things out farther than I think they need to go.

I do, however, really love his short stories.

The funny thing, though, is that I still look for his books and try to read them when they come out. Even if he disappoints me.

(Interestingly enough, I picked up Enchantment to read for an online book group. I'm hoping I have a better reaction to it than I did when I first read it. :)

Becky 7:36 PM  


I think the series just changed. Especially the Shadow series. After Ender's Shadow, it really wasn't anything like the original book. It was all politics, all war, all the time. It was strategies and power plays. (That and philosophy and religion.) And the older the characters got, the more unlike the originals they became. They weren't children anymore. They were adults. Doing things that grownups do.

I don't really like to look at it as "better" or "worse" ...just different.

I think Ender's Game & Ender's Shadow have more widespread appeal than the rest of the series by far...especially in the young adult market.

I do like Enchantment. I find it interesting that he can write romance too.

Karlene 6:52 PM  

I liked Enchantment too. There are so many people who have done Sleeping Beauty, that it gets old after awhile. But I liked his.

Framed 5:06 PM  

I recently read this book for the first time and loved it too. I'm planning on reading more of the series. I loved "Enchantment" as well. I've bookmooched "Hart's Hope" and can't wait to read it. He really is an excellent author.

Anna Maria Junus 5:36 AM  

Enders Game was the first Card book I read too, and although I didn't get as into Card as you did, he still made it to my favorite authors list.

Kindle-Sprite 12:17 PM  

My love of books started with Ender's Game. I read it in the eighth grade. I really liked the latest Ender's book by OSC Ender in Exile. If you haven't picked it up, trust me, it is worth it!

Francisco Guillermo 10:15 PM  

I’m about to finish Reading Enders Game, and I’m liking the book so far, the thing is I really expected some actual fighting with the Insectors, because this as the name says its ENDERS GAME or Enders training, and though it has a good story, and there is a lot to take in and think about, and all of that makes it a book for the ages, but some times I just really like books that have a good story and are fast and easy to read, and this one has a lot of the characters thinking of everything, so it doesn’t feel as fast passed as another great science fiction novel I just finished reading and to the time my favorite CF saga “Proteus”.

Andy K. 5:45 PM  

I love this book to death as well, and just wanted to make an observation about the book that I haven't seen made anywhere. In a lot of ways Ender's Game reminds me of Lord of the Flies in that it focuses so intensely on a small group of children that by the end of the book it's as almost as if they are adults in our minds, even though they are still merely children. I go into a little more depth on my by here: Ender's Game.

Meili 6:40 PM  

Ender's game is also on my top ten list, I really enjoyed the other books branching off of it as well. The series did change a lot but I really liked how every book was (unlike most series) completely different from the last. I'm not normally into those kinds of books so if it wasn't for my 6th grade english teacher's suggestion I never would have read it but I'm so glad I did. :D

Jeff LeMaster 3:10 PM  

I love the way the Orson Scott Card weaves the Portuguese from his missionary days into his later novels. His stories are creative and inspiring, and full of character development.

I am looking forward to the "Ender's Game" movie this fall because it will introduce many more people to the wonders of this fictional world (although there's no way it can be as good as the book!).

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