There is no doubt that Orson Scott Card created a thought provoking protagonist with an equally intriguing plight when he wrote Ender’s Game. Ender, a child prodigy, enters training as the world’s only hope in waging war for the Third Invasion against an alien civilization of buggers. While reading the young adult science fiction novel, I could not complain about lack of material to pique my interest. As I read, I debated what a future filled with child soldiers training to fight alien invaders with video game simulations under the unfeeling supervision of adults would be like. Still, I constantly questioned the reasoning and logic at the heart of the storylines. This resulted in several reading sessions that did not flow smoothly together, but halted each time I stopped to consider the believability of the situation. Did my lack of imagination ruin the experience for me? Perhaps.
The first puzzle Card presents the reader comes on the first page with his chosen form of narration. In bold-face print the novel begins with the observation of Ender and his family: “I’ve watched through his eyes, I’ve listened through his ears, and I tell you, he’s the one.“ The reader wonders by whom and why the watching is occurring. When Ender’s story starts from a different perspective, a divide is drawn between Ender and those watching him. As the chapters roll on, the reader knows it is the adults who watch Ender for clues about his personality and capabilities, but the question never ceases: why do adults need a child to save them? When the answer finally came, it didn’t seem like enough for the enormity of the story leading up to it.
Similarly, the author focuses heavily on the training Ender and the other children endure at Battle School and on the planet Eros to prepare for the Third Invasion against the buggers. In typical science fiction style, pages and pages of the text are spent describing every single maneuver of troops, shot taken, and person frozen in battle. While I tried hard to concentrate on the overall significance of the battles, and what the characters learned from these scenes, my interest was not held due to nagging repetition. In the end, when the final explanation for the simulations was given, I was not appeased.
Maybe the seedlings of Card’s main ideas were so grand, that what might have been a fine ending in another book didn’t cut it in this one. I expected more explanation for the reversal of societal roles and the conclusion to the epic Third Invasion. I accept that I ask a lot, and this might be the problem, rather than the text itself. I chose to read this book because so many people give it high praise. Please don’t let my perspective stop you from reading something you may enjoy.
Final Rating: 3 out of 5 Stars