Saturday, October 5, 2013

Ender's Game by Orson Scott Card


Children fighting a battle well beyond their years, taken from their homes before they even really got the chance to live, thrust into a world that makes them adults quicker than they ever should. Ender's Game has some harsh topics worthy of exploration and it is easy to see why this is a series, given the amount of room this author has created in his world. However... I was not a fan of this book.

As I say the above, I almost feel as if I should apologize. As said in some previous posts, this is one of those novels that has always been floating in my reading vision. It was a book that if you hadn't read, you had at least heard about. It's iconic. It's probably considered one of the fundamentals of Sci-fi. But, as I curled up on my sofa, a cup of coffee in hand, looking forward to a book that is so revered, I was disappointed. The only thing that I really took away from the story after a good three hours of reading was this was a “guys” book. And I hate using that term because I know there are females out there that enjoy the type of writing I'm talking about (big explosions, lots of immature insults to each other, more big explosions). Hell, I'm even one of them when the mood strikes me. However, Ender's Game was slow moving except for the numerous descriptions of battle that took place. The action in between the battles/training was filler at best. Character growth felt choppy, any connections that were supposed to form between characters felt very flat, and most of the in-between scenes talked about fighting, or involved fighting in the halls of the school.

Though, to be fair, most of those complaints I just listed happened at the school where our main character, Ender, was taken for training in the upcoming war. When we stepped back home and got to visit his brother and sister, I found myself enjoying the novel much more. Valentine and Peter were intriguing reads and I think I would have much rather read an entire novel about them.

Also, lets address the weird dialogue choices in this book. These are children. Small small children. Yet, they spoke better than adults. Now, in Ender's case, I can at least justify it. He is in a school where he is forced to grow up. I see what the author was going for there. But what about in the case of his siblings? Why were they small children with eloquent tongues and brilliant minds? Was this explained and I just glossed over it? Therein lies one of the fundamental issues with me and this book. There were things that we as a reader were just supposed to accept but we were to accept them with little to no information about the world or time that the book was taking place in and often times, these facts were just kind of thrust at us in such a way that they didn't stick. I didn't even know that the aliens being fought looked like bugs for a good amount of the novel and probably wouldn't have known if they hadn't kept calling them buggers.  Though, I am fully ready to admit that might be on me and the lack of attention I was able to keep on this book.

Now, obviously this novel isn't all bad because I gave it a three out of five stars. I must admit that some of my amusement for this book comes from the fact that this very homophobic author had several naked wrestling scenes throughout his story. Should something like that make me smile? Yes. Yes it should.

The true reason it has gotten a three star rating though, and the reason why I'll most likely read it again in the future in hopes of giving it another shot, is the ending. There is a plot twist at the end that made me giddy for the first time. The pay off that I had been waiting for did actually show up during the last fifty pages or so and, if I'm being truthful, around page two hundred, the book did catch my attention much much more. Pretty much the moment things got 'real' so to speak is when I started enjoying it. Now, this sort of payoff works fantastically in novels because it is the last thing you remember before ending the book. It leaves you with good feelings that bump up star rating and make you rethink your previous opinion (honestly, without this ending, it would have gotten a two star). However, it is the authors job to make the novel entertaining before this point so you don't put it down or dread reading the next chapter or two.

I know plenty of people that do enjoy this book. I'm not saying its a bad one. I'm saying that I found a lot of fault in it that I personally couldn't get past. It was too big Hollywood, summer Blockbuster movie for me. I'd seen it before and I will see it again. That being said, I need to give it some credit because while I have seen this story before, this one came first. You can easily see the influence that this book has had over such things as Hunger Games, Mass Effect, Halo and so on. For that, I do have respect for it. But is it a novel that holds up over time? Not really.

If you are an avid reader, I'd say read Ender's Game because its iconic. At least then you can make up your own opinion. If you are someone that has trouble reading in the fist place though, or know that Sci-fi isn't really your thing, give it a pass.

That being said, I will go see the movie because Harrison Ford. Yes. I did just say that. :)

For more of what I'm reading this month:

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  1. I thought the ending to that book was beautiful! Definitely a surprise and one that tugged on my heartstrings.

    1. Months later, the ending is still my favorite part of the book. I just wanted more that kind of thrill, I think. There was something so satisfying about that reveal that I wanted more.

      Have you read anything else by this author?