Ender’s Game by Orson Scott Card was the first sci-fi book I ever read. I remember being forced at school to choose a book from the shelf to take home and read for a book report. Not only did I not care what book I read, I didn’t even look at what I picked up when I chose (I know, I’m a total badass). Let me just say that my loathing for books stopped that day when I got home.
Ender’s Game was a total escape from reality. Imagine a world where there is an impending war with an alien race that resembles large ant-like creatures with a hive mind. Overpopulation has meant that birth restrictions are in place and the only hope for humanity lies with a six year old boy and a battle school found in space.
Ender is Earth’s saviour and the novel focuses on him and his journey. Being the third child he is loathed by many in a world where birth restrictions are in place to stop an already large population. The reason for his existence was sanctioned by the government who are slectively breeding stable-minded soldier children. His brother and sister before him were considered as candidates for battle school where these selected children go, but his sister Valentine was too caring and not violent enough while his brother Peter was the polar opposite. Ender is the equaliser in the family and is sent off to battle school where the escapism starts.
In battle school whole platoons of children live together and train together in preparation for mock battles fought in zero-gravity. The school is run by military officers who alter the rules and living environments to produce the most efficient and swift minded child-soldiers. Ender quickly rises to the top and is discovered to be a tactical genius able to turn a bad situation into a good one.
The alien race are called the Buggers and are a big theme in the novel. Almost everything that happens in battle school happens to serve the ultimate purpose of defeating the advancing alien species.
I’ve never been one for connecting with characters, if there is enough action and a good plot I couldn’t care less about how emotionally connected I get to a character, but in Ender’s Game I was really rooting for Ender the whole way through. The kid goes through a hell of a lot at the hands of the military, but in the back of his mind he knows it’s necessary for the greater good.
This is a sophisticated novel meant for anyone. The plot is engaging and multilayered with enough action in between, the characters are well written and the pace is consistent.