Wednesday, June 24, 2020
88. Ender's Game
First sentence: "I've watched through his eyes, I've listened through his ears, and I tell you he's the one. Or at least as close as we're going to get."
Premise/plot: Andrew Wiggin, aka "Ender," is six years old and potentially the earth's savior. Two wars have been fought and barely won against the aliens known to readers as Buggers. The third war will take much preparation--decades worth of the International Fleet training up children to be commanders and soldiers.
Ender is one such student or trainee. His older brother, Peter, and older sister, Valentine, didn't make it so far as Battle School in space. Ender's life is wearisome and burdensome. He doesn't make friends easily and his biggest fear is being just as violent and out of control as his brother, Peter. He is prone to self-reflection and self-loathing. But in terms of military genius, strategizing, leadership...he excels.
When the time comes to fight the war, will he be ready?
My thoughts: For a decade I would have considered this one of my favorite, favorite books. Now that it's been almost twenty years or so since I first read it--well, my thoughts and impressions have changed some. I love the last fourth of the novel. That hasn't changed. But the first fourth of the novel, well, it's DISTURBING, uncomfortable, awkward, a bit off. I did NOT remember the use of the n word. I did not remember the jokesy approach to different races (or ethnicities). I did not remember the chokehold scene where Peter is trying to kill his brother. I did not remember some of the crudeness.
One thing that bothers me is Peter. Peter is a psychopath in my opinion. He is cruel to his brother and sister. He is cruel to small animals. He is a bully. He is manipulative. He is egocentric and a narcissist. He dreams of world domination. He is just a sick, sick, sick individual. And I think what readers are outright told about him is just the tip of the iceberg. If Valentine is to be believed about the files and records she's been keeping of her brother. Chances are he might have done even more than she knew about. There was one line that disturbed me where she is telling Ender that you don't know what I had to do to keep Peter from hurting you. Of course, we don't know--she doesn't say. But Card later seems to redeem the character of Peter and seeks to make him sympathetic.
Card does do flawed humans well. I will give him that. Are any of the characters in this one not flawed?!?! I think the most likable characters may be Bean and Petra.
© 2020 Becky Laney of Becky's Book Reviews