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Book Review: Ender's Game

Author's Webpage: Orson Scott Card

Stars: ⭐️⭐️⭐️1/2

Reminds Me Of: Armada, The Expanse, Star Trek

Warnings: The whole books about teaching a kid about discipline and team building but I don't believe this is a children's novel

Triggers: In my opinion there's like some child labor issues going on here

Publisher Synopsis:

In order to develop a secure defense against a hostile alien race's next attack, government agencies breed child geniuses and train them as soldiers. A brilliant young boy, Andrew "Ender" Wiggin lives with his kind but distant parents, his sadistic brother Peter, and the person he loves more than anyone else, his sister Valentine. Peter and Valentine were candidates for the soldier-training program but didn't make the cut--young Ender is the Wiggin drafted to the orbiting Battle School for rigorous military training.

Ender's skills make him a leader in school and respected in the Battle Room, where children play at mock battles in zero gravity. Yet growing up in an artificial community of young soldiers, Ender suffers greatly from isolation, rivalry from his peers, pressure from the adult teachers, and an unsettling fear of the alien invaders. His psychological battles include loneliness, fear that he is becoming like the cruel brother he remembers, and fanning the flames of devotion to his beloved sister.

Is Ender the general Earth needs? But Ender is not the only result of the genetic experiments. The war with the Buggers has been raging for a hundred years, and the quest for the perfect general has been underway for almost as long. Ender's two older siblings are every bit as unusual as he is, but in very different ways. Between the three of them lie the abilities to remake a world. If the world survives, that is.


I work around military folks all the time for my work. Never seen a kid. Nor had any notion that a kid would be the solution for an alien invasion. Carry on though Orson.

Ender's Game was difficult for me to get into mostly because I couldn't wrap my head around the concept of a child being of sound mind to control an army and the human race being cool with that as their strategy. However, I pushed past that and enjoyed this classic 80s novel for what it was. Military science fiction is such an interesting genre. Its one of the more relatable of the sci-fy genres because weapons development and technology is always towards the forefront of making fiction reality. That hyper realism factor is what draws me in to think about things that might actually be possible for the future.

In this world that same concept lies. What would the human race do faced with an undoubtedly larger force against it? Obviously we'd fight back, but how? What technology would arise from such an attack? What strategies would the human race use to band together and defeat the enemy? Ender's Game portrays we'd use the unhindered mind of a child to push past the decision blockages of adulthood. We'd use virtual reality and video games to teach them skills and play "pretend" battles. We'd have space battle schools to train our soldiers in zero gravity and learn techniques in fighting in that terrain. Some decisions made by humans would be questionable. Like isolating the child from their families at an early age until mid teens. Practicing day in and day out sometimes with little sleep. Locking them in rooms to sleep with no adult supervision. And other choices would be just plain idiotic. Like planning your global fight with Russia and their alleged "Warsaw Pact" after you defeat the "buggers"...oh 1980s geopolitical drama.

Besides Ender's story was what I thought was such an interesting dialogue I'd much rather have had much more of it than the bugger drama. Ender's two siblings were using the internet to create these warring ideological factions. They would write under pseudonyms and submit their opinions to the net. This reminds me of current day social media and troll farms on twitter. Some of these accounts have massive followings and can sway opinions of a large swath of humanity in under 140 characters. Peter, the more devious of the two siblings took on the more structure empathetic politician whilst Valentine was the more populist and boisterous war monger. Three guesses on who had the larger following. I found this storyline to be so intriguing because of how poignant it gelled with our modern day discourse online. #SocialMediaWasAMistake

SPOILER ALERT: The twists in this book were really well written though. I loved the usage of the video game and the virtual reality simulations to be revealed as actual battles in the end to be really clever. Heartbreaking in the sense that Ender didn't really want to kill anybody and was actively avoiding becoming his brother Peter but oh well, screw Ender's feelings amiright?! Finally, the concept on human cruelty when it came to the buggers was powerful. Of course one of the decisions to be made would be revenge for the previous two attacks. The buggers claimed in a sudo mind meld with Ender that they didn't understand who or what we were and so perceived us as a threat. Much to what humans would do as well. They however had no way of also communicating an apology and asking for forgiveness.

“War is what happens when language fails.”

-Margaret Atwood

Well that probably wasn't going to fly anyways with humanity. I'm eager even through my criticism to continue on to the next book in the series; Speaker for the Dead. It follows after Ender wrote the two novels The Hive Queen and The Hegemon towards the end of this book. Those fictional writings that encompass the feeling of the bugger queen (The Hive Queen) and his overlord brother Peter (The Hegemon). Ender writes under his own pseudonym "Speaker for the Dead" and basically convinces humanity to see him not as a hero but a killer of races and xenocidal pawn. This feels like a call out to the Vietnam war which would've ended about a decade before this. Public opinion heavily swayed in the opposite direction once fighting was televised. Or more recently you could make that connection to the war in Afghanistan which was widely criticized upon its completion. I think the concept portrayed through that is that war seems just and proper in the beginning, much like the issues between Russia and America during Ender's Game, but quickly devolves once fighting begins.

Drink Pairing: Beetlejuice

A drink about bugs for a book fighting the "buggers". Yea that sounds pretty good.

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