Set in the distant future, humanity is at war with an alien species whose presence threatens the future. Andrew “Ender” Wiggin is a child genius, a product of a government agency that breeds young soldiers to aid the war effort. At a young age, Ender is sent to Battle School, and the trials that await him are more than just mock battle games, but also involve trials of a psychological and interpersonal nature.
I know so many people who like this book, and to those that do: I’m sorry. I see the merits of this book and can understand why people like this. It is about children with substance, personalities, and intelligence, and because they are children, they are manipulated, pressured, exhausted and treated with little dignity by those who call themselves adults. Intertwined with a narrative about war, this book is underpinning the notion of power, misconceptions, and how society assigns power to whom based on these social constructions that we take for granted.
Card also explores the effect of war on people, and the boundaries and limits of the human mind. As a promising candidate for the war, Ender is pushed, pressured, and tested. He is shaped and essentially groomed to become a leader, which is a fate that is inevitable even if Ender does not want it. Essentially, Ender is manipulated beyond help and he becomes a pawn and an ideological symbol that is trapped, powerless, and helpless; it was a sad revelation for Ender, and I liked how Card explored his fall into despair, and I appreciated how this contrasted with his resolution in the end.
So, the one and a half stars… I can appreciate the narratives in Ender’s Game and I tried to do this book justice by searching for them (hence +0.5 star), but to be bloody honest, I found Ender’s Game boring. So boring. So boring that I wanted to give up half way, but I pushed myself through it.
I found Ender’s Game to be incredibly repetitive (especially the mock battles). Though each mock battle was different from each other, in the sense that there were new tactics or new methods of deception or it was with a different team, but they did not feel inherently different. It was painful to read these over and over again, and I know the constant mock battles were supposed to wear Ender down, were they supposed to wear the reader down too? (Because if so, Card succeeded.) Also, I won’t elaborate but Card reminds us incessantly and relentlessly that Ender is Good (with a capital and bolded G).
The character development felt stale. As new characters were introduced, all of them showed so much promise to be interesting, complex characters, especially Bean and Petra. However, as the plot progressed, I felt that all of the secondary characters’ development was compromised for Ender’s alienation. All the characters regressed to one-dimensional characters that just become names in a book but not whole, developed characters. I will probably forget these secondary characters as time passes.
I found it boring. I could not care for it. I would be lying to myself if I said I liked it. I do not like Ender’s Game. I find it completely baffling that people hail this as one of the best science-fiction novels of all time. It numbs my mind trying to understand why.
P.S. Also, Card’s chauvinistic view of women left a bad taste in my mouth. However, as there are many arguments out there already, that is all I’ll say on the matter.
Book Name: Ender’s Game
Author: Orson Scott Card
Publisher: Tor Science Fiction