Orson Scott Card creates a thought provoking protagonist and plot in Ender’s Game, which encourages the imagination of the reader, but contains plot twists meant to surprise that are too predictable in the end. The reader learns that Ender, a child prodigy, is the world’s only hope in waging war for the Third Invasion against an alien civilization of buggers. The story excites and inspires the reader to consider 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. Yet, the wordy and repetitive descriptions ruin creative aspects of the story. Since the initial storyline is so inventive, the reader waits for unexpected events to occur as the story progresses, but they never do. Instead of speeding through a well-rounded text, this one took several reading sessions that did not flow smoothly together, but halted each time I stopped to consider the believability of the situation or quality of the writing.
Card establishes suspense by telling the reader someone is watching Ender, but when the reader finally learns the answer, it is disappointing. In boldface 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 comes, it doesn’t seem like enough for the intensity and focus placed on the story leading up to it.
The author also focuses heavily on the training Ender and the other children endure at Battle School, repeating information and losing the interest of the reader. 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 this reader 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.
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. It should also be noted that there are many sequels to Ender’s Game that Card might have been setting up, which I have not read and am not familiar with. I accept that I ask a lot for a young adult work, and this might be the problem, rather than the text itself.
Final Rating: 3 out of 5 Stars