Book Review: Ender’s Game

Ender's Game (Ender's Saga, #1)Ender’s Game by Orson Scott Card

My rating: 5 of 5 stars

I’ve heard about Ender’s Game in a few places and thought I’d try it out. I downloaded the 20th anniversary audiobook from Audible. Haven’t read Orson Scott Card before so didn’t know what to expect.

First off, the narration was superb. It is dramatized in a few places in a way that intrigued. The narration as much as the story drew me in.

Ender (his nick name) is a boy-genius, an illegal third child allowed to be born in the hope that he will grow up to be the military commander who can defeat the “Buggers”, a race of insectoid aliens who have twice attacked earth and are expected to do so again. At 6 years of age he sent to an orbiting military combat school where he is left to fend for himself, learning to adapt and overcome his opponents by sheer smarts.

The story itself is surprisingly captivating given that the author goes into great detail about Enders battles first in Battle School and then in Command School. But it’s not all tactics, we get inside the boy genius Ender’s brain, wondering if he’s actually going to make it through, be murdered by jealous rivals, or burnout before he can, hopefully, beat the “buggers”. The technology, although probably fantastic when the book was written, fits well into the 21st century. Its not dated, just native to the contemporary reader. It also delves a little into the fortunes of his beloved sister, Valentine, and their brother Peter who really is a nasty piece of work. This is something of a sidetrack but does serve some purpose, especially towards the end.

The story does have a couple of significant twists, although you do need to listen through to the end as it wasn’t clear if the ending was going anywhere until the second twist emerged. According to Card who narrates an author’s note at the end, the original short story was adapted into a novel precisely to set it up for the sequel, “Speaker for the Dead”.

Card wrote this not as a kids book, but certainly with kids in mind and I’m happy for my 11 year old daughter to be reading, and thoroughly enjoying, it.

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