This book falls into the books I’ve always meant to read but never got around to stack. This ended up being the June pick for the online book club I joined, and though I read it earlier this year, I thought it was a good time to finally post my review.
Andrew “Ender” Wiggin is all of six years old when he is recruited to battle school to train as a commander to fight against an alien race that’s threatening to take over Earth. He leaves behind a distant and unhappy family on Earth — a sadistic older brother and parents that are terrified to become attached to a son they know they cannot keep. His sister, Valentine, is the only one in his life that has ever shown him love and in return, he holds onto her memory tightly. At battle school, Ender excels but loses all sense of himself — why he is there and what it might mean for his future. All he knows is that he must defeat the aliens and save Earth and all humanity.
Ender is one sad child. In fact, all the children at battle school are sad. They have no idea what it means to be children and will never be given the chance. They’re training day after relentless day to save the planet, yet, aren’t even allowed to know the planet or the people on it. It’s no wonder he’s an aloof little person suspicious of every adult in his path. And to be honest, they’re all trying to size him up as the next savior and that would make anyone an anxious mess.
I didn’t particularly like Ender. While he’s genetically perfect, a blend of all that’s needed to save Earth, he’s just boring. His situation is what I liked though. The psychological impact of what the children are put through is like watching a little experiment take place and I was generally surprised by the ending. I was reading this on my Nook so I didn’t read ahead so I didn’t know what was going to happen. It’s also creepy in how the children are treated as adults yet are essentially playing games they don’t understand and think they’re training to be fighters and question nothing. Ender does question the commanders but he’s a child trying to understand adult combat and life and death issues. Do the math on that one.
Am I glad I read it? I am. Sometimes when books I’ve ignored finally get read, I feel letdown, especially if they’re books others rave about. If I had read this as a child, I think I would have loved it more but that’s what I get for waiting to read it as an adult. Perspective, hindsight? Who knows.
Have you read it? Thoughts on this one? If you’re interested, here’s what the BHA Book Club thought about it.
By Orson Scott Card
Doherty, Tom Associates LLC/St. Martin’s