By: Orson Scott Card
I’m not going to lie: I was pretty excited to read Ender’s Game.
It was recently made into a movie (with a pretty killer cast), appealing to the same audiences as The Hunger Games, The Giver, Divergent, The Maze Runner, so on and so forth, ad nauseam. The whole YA sci-fi crowd.
And I had heard of it, but I hadn’t heard too much about it (read: I didn’t know anything about it other than the name).
So when I found it at a friend’s house, I scooped it up and inhaled it during a weekend at the beach.
It was not.at.all. what I expected.
First things first, the main character is a 6 year old for half of the book.
I have a strong suspicion that the movie takes a few liberties in regard to his age (but I haven’t seen it, so I have no idea, really).
It was okay. The most interesting part about it for me was the Author’s Introduction (that’s probably a bad sign, when your favorite part wasn’t even the novel itself…). In it, Orson Scott Card gives away a bit of his reasoning and a lot of inspiration. The idea of extremely young soldiers was set into motion by realizing how young most of the soldiers of the Civil War were.
Oh yeah, by the way, that’s what this book is about. A futuristic world where extremely young children are pegged as geniuses and sent off to a military training school.
So it’s all about gravity, and creativity, and loneliness, and leadership, and humanity, and the survival of the species. It’s tinted with religion and racial tension and cruelty and family.
It isn’t stellar writing. There are several ideas that are underdeveloped and confusing, but the sheer innovation of Card’s mind is magnificent.
He mentions this idea in the introduction, that so often great writers are reinventing old, classic literature; but this is far from the case for the genre of science fiction in particular. What makes science fiction great is it’s absolute creativity. You can only develop Asimov so far before you’ve got to make it your own somehow.
Ender’s Game is a major thought experiment.
But it hooked me enough to want to read the second!
Fan of Ender’s Game? Here are some suggestions:
(for sci-fi classics)
I, Robot by Isaac Asimov
Brave New World by Aldous Huxley
The Hitchhiker’s Guide to the Galaxy by Douglas Adams
The Time Machine by H. G. Wells
(for themes of child soldiers)
Slaughterhouse-Five by Kurt Vonnegut
The Hunger Games by Suzanne Collins
(for space sci-fi with a child as the main character)
A Wrinkle in Time by Madeleine L’Engle
Young Miles by Lois McMaster Bujold
The Dangerous Days of Daniel X by James Patterson and Michael Ledwidge
The Giver by Lois Lowry
(for more by Card)
Speaker for the Dead by Orson Scott Card
Xenocide by Orson Scott Card
Ender’s Shadow by Orson Scott Card
Children of the Mind by Orson Scott Card
(for books referenced by Card)
Army of the Potomac by Bruce Catton
Aku-Aku by Thor Heyerdahl
Masada by Yigael Yadin
The Source by James Michener
Anne of Green Gables by L.M. Montgomery
Ground Rules by Renee Swann
In Cold Blood by Truman Capote