A Tor Book 1992
A deeply psychological book, this story delves into the mind of a child whose psyche is brutalized by the needs of the state. It is the story of Andrew Wiggan, aka “Ender”, who finds himself the sole hope of humanity in their struggle with an alien insect-like race known as the “buggers”. Ender is trained to lead and command, to be a soulless killer and a savior for our species, but he himself, and those around him keep asking to what point, what end, and is it worth it? Should a six year old be groomed for murder, a child be led towards genocide. In a universe without fate, who decided to mold this child, and what was the journey from child to monster like? What does it take to make the innocent a killer? This story is gripping and engaging, and is one I would recommend to anyone interested in science fiction, the psychology or development of children under duress, or even the simplicity of a well written story.
The story is written in a third-person past style, though every chapter begins, and a few end, with a dialogue between sources that eventually become apparent. This is identified by italicized text, and does a good job of alluding to back-story elements that the main character is not aware of. As a device it is pretty amature, but in Mr. Card’s hands, it is very effective. The writing style itself is easy to handle and adjust to, and if the themes were not so cruel, and there was no cursing in it, I might recommend it as a junior adult novel, and I still might, if the parent believes their child is adult enough to handle it. If the young person was able to read “The Hunger Games” by Suzanne Collins, and understands not to use “Dirty Language” in front of you, then Ender’s Game is a great science fiction novel. You do not have to be a big scifi fan to enjoy the way the story flows through this novel.
The value of this book is in the suffering and triumphs of the main character, and the levels of manipulation that he is placed in. The greatest fault of the book is the tack taken in the last few chapters, which are do not seem to fit the plot, and have a chronicler’s feel to them, rather than a story being told.
Note: This review was originally published on Mach 21, 2011 on my now defunct book review site Readerway.