Book review: Ender’s Game

I was waiting for some books that I had ordered to arrive and decided to re-read Ender’s Game by Orson Scott Card.  The last time I read it was when I was in middle school or high school so I only vaguely remembered it when I took The Kid to see the movie recently (the movie was decent – you should see it).

The basic plot of the story is that the world is threatened by aliens called “buggers.”  Little is known about these aliens other than that they greatly outnumber humans so, in desperation, the government is training children to go to war by using games, consisting of both computer simulations and group games.  They monitor the children with devices, picking the most promising children to go through more intensive training to become officers.  In this futuristic world, families only have 1-2 children due to the overpopulation problem and religious belief is seen as backwards thinking.  From the beginning, Ender is an outcast.  Ender’s oldest brother was dismissed from the training because he was too violent.  The second child, his sister, Valentine, was dismissed for being to pacifist.  He is the third child, an embarrassment, even though the government gave his parents permission to have a third child due to how intelligent the other 2 children were.

From the beginning, the reader knows that Ender is being manipulated … and Ender knows that he is being manipulated, but that doesn’t change the outcome of the choices made.  He is taken from his family at 6-years-old and trained to be the one who saves humankind from the aliens.  There is an imminent threat – time is running out – his training is rushed, but he must succeed because if he doesn’t everyone could die, including his family.

You can read this book in several ways:  you could read this book as a distopian warning and it would be a decent read; you could read it simply for the plot and it would be a good read – a nice science fiction adventure story; or you could also read this book as a study of personalities, human nature, and group mentality and it would be a great read.

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