Hope you all enjoyed reading The Man in the High Castle! We’re sticking with sci-fi (and war, for that matter!) again, this time with Orson Scott Card’s classic Ender’s Game. Technically this is a young adult novel, but the themes, violence, and metaphors mean you get a very different experience reading it as an adult.
For those who aren’t familiar with the story, here’s the description from Amazon:
“In order to develop a secure defense against a hostile alien race’s next attack, government agencies breed child geniuses and train them as soldiers. A brilliant young boy, Andrew “Ender” Wiggin lives with his kind but distant parents, his sadistic brother Peter, and the person he loves more than anyone else, his sister Valentine. Peter and Valentine were candidates for the soldier-training program but didn’t make the cut–young Ender is the Wiggin drafted to the orbiting Battle School for rigorous military training.”
“Ender’s skills make him a leader in school and respected in the Battle Room, where children play at mock battles in zero gravity. Yet growing up in an artificial community of young soldiers, Ender suffers greatly from isolation, rivalry from his peers, pressure from the adult teachers, and an unsettling fear of the alien invaders. His psychological battles include loneliness, fear that he is becoming like the cruel brother he remembers, and fanning the flames of devotion to his beloved sister.”
“Is Ender the general Earth needs? But Ender is not the only result of the genetic experiments. The war with the Buggers has been raging for a hundred years, and the quest for the perfect general has been underway for almost as long. Ender’s two older siblings are every bit as unusual as he is, but in very different ways. Between the three of them lie the abilities to remake a world. If the world survives, that is.”
It sounds like the setup for most Young Adult dystopias these days, but Ender’s Game is a nuanced and deep story. Card really worked to envision what a united-against-aliens world would look like, with students from very different cultures and religions coming together. He also doesn’t shy away from the incredible psychological burdens placed on children who are expected to become soldiers, and what that does to their childhood and their futures. Finally, as if that’s not enough to cover in one book, he also offers peeks into the adult politics of the world and the differing viewpoints that might exist.
Sold on it? You can find Ender’s Game at the usual spots like B&N and Amazon, as well as your local library. Don’t bother with the recent movie, and don’t read spoilers — the book is best enjoyed if you don’t know what’s coming. We’ll be discussing it in early September, so get to reading! (Special thanks to Gear Diary’s Perry for suggestion this one as our next book selection!)