Author: Orson Scott Card
Publisher: Tor Science Fiction, July 15, 1994 (originally published 1985)
Pages: Paperback, 324
Series: #1, Ender’s Saga
Book Synopsis (from Goodreads): Andrew “Ender” Wiggin thinks he is playing computer simulated war games; he is, in fact, engaged in something far more desperate. The result of genetic experimentation, Ender may be the military genius Earth desperately needs in a war against an alien enemy seeking to destroy all human life. The only way to find out is to throw Ender into ever harsher training, to chip away and find the diamond inside, or destroy him utterly. Ender Wiggin is six years old when it begins. He will grow up fast.
But Ender is not the only result of the experiment. The war with the Buggers has been raging for a hundred years, and the quest for the perfect general has been underway almost as long. Ender’s two older siblings, Peter and Valentine, are every bit as unusual as he is, but in very different ways. While Peter was too uncontrollably violent, Valentine very nearly lacks the capability for violence altogether. Neither was found suitable for the military’s purpose. But they are driven by their jealousy of Ender, and by their inbred drive for power. Peter seeks to control the political process, to become a ruler. Valentine’s abilities turn more toward the subtle control of the beliefs of commoner and elite alike, through powerfully convincing essays. Hiding their youth and identities behind the anonymity of the computer networks, these two begin working together to shape the destiny of Earth-an Earth that has no future at all if their brother Ender fails.
Ender’s Game is one of my favorite books of all time. I thoroughly enjoyed reading this book and it helped me out of a reading funk I’d been having for a while so I suggest it if you’re having one, too. I wasn’t too sure about it when it was recommended to me, but I took a chance and I’m glad I did.
Ender is a great character, and even though he’s a young child, he’s more like a little adult. He’s a genius, but not because he spews scientific equations or anything. He’s more like a creative thinker: a sensitive strategist in every situation he’s in whether it’s figuring out how to handle school bullies or figuring out how to keep his brother from killing him. For most of the book he’s a loner though not exactly by choice and I think we can all identify with that at some point in our lives.
Both Valentine and Peter are great characters as well, and I love that Orson Scott Card goes back and forth between what Ender is doing at school and the shenanigans his siblings are conjuring at home. Peter, by the way, is the perfect villain because not only is he a genius, but also seems to sometimes be evil and sometimes alright and as Ender’s brother, you’re never sure if you can trust him.
This is a great book for lovers of science fiction but I would also recommend it to readers who haven’t reach much sci-fi before. Some of the space gravity lingo is difficult to understand but it’s usually explained very well. The aliens are not a main feature – they are mostly just referred to, so if you’re squeamish about things like that, no problem. And finally, if you love deep character development, I know you’ll love Ender, too.
[Note: Ender’s Game is the first of a series, but it’s also a great standalone book as well. The books that follow are completely different (example: the next one is set 3,000 years after this one), but of course you can indulge if you want!]