Orson Scott Card – Ender’s Game
93. Ender’s Game by Orson Scott Card (1985)
Ender’s Saga, Book 1
Read by Stefan Rudnicki and Harlan Ellison
Length: 10h 54m (357 pages)
Genre: Science Fiction
Started: 26 August 2007
Finished: 7 September 2007
Summary: Ender Wiggin has been born and bred to be a brilliant soldier and a commander – quite literally. A government-requisitioned “third”, younger sibling to two failed experiments: a brother too sadistic, a sister too pacifistic, Ender is taken from his family at the age of six and brought to battle school, where he is trained – both formally and through subtle manipulation – to become the best military leader the humans have ever had, and their last hope of finally defeating the alien Buggers and ending the Bugger war.
Review: I really enjoyed about 19/20ths of this book. I normally don’t seek out war/soldier/battle/strategy books, but the meat of the story, of Ender’s training and trials and growth, all of that was excellent. Ender’s an intensely sympathetic narrator, doubly so when the book reminds you of how old he actually is (it’s easy to forget, because he is much smarter and much more mature than most children… because he has to be.) The story is incredibly engaging, to the point where I found myself caring about the outcome of a training “battle” as much as any of the characters did, and yet while the plot is relatively straightforward, there are enough subtleties and issues raised to hold interest on a different level than sheer good storytelling. My main problem was the ending. Without giving anything away, the part that seems as though it should be the epilogue is so different in style and tone from the rest of the book that it kills the momentum and even some of the interest. It switches from being inside Ender’s head to this strange, distant, almost mythic style of storytelling, it doesn’t continue the story arc from the rest of the book, and it’s clear that it’s just there to set up the future books in the series. It’s jarring, and unfortunate, because had the book ended at the actual end, or even left some things ambiguous, I’d have been jumping at the sequels, but now I’m afraid they’re going to continue the tone of the epilogue without carrying over the parts that made me love the rest of the book. 4.5 out of 5 stars.
Recommendation: Definitely worth the read; would have been a solid five stars if not for the strange tacked-on-seeming ending.
First Line: “I’ve watched through his eyes, I’ve listened through his ears, and I tell you he’s the one.”