Ender's Game by Orson Scott Card
Digital Audiobook narrated by Gabrielle de Cuir, Harlan Ellison, Stefan Rudnicki
Published by Tor Books on January 1st, 1985
Series: Ender's Saga #1
Genres: Fiction, Science Fiction, Young Adult
Length: 256 pages or 11 hours, 57 minutes
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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, that is, the world survives.
Ender’s Game is one of those books that I’ve been aware of for as long as I can remember, but I’ve never read it. I’ve been reading science-fiction for just about as long as I’ve been reading anything. I was raised on Star Wars and Star Trek and Logan’s Run and Planet of the Apes. Give me 70s and 80s sci-fi until the day I day and I’ll be happy as a clam (problematic bits aside, see: Logan’s Run). In the last few years, I’ve revisited a lot of the older-style science fiction that I loved when I was younger… and I’ve been disappointed.
So, Ender’s Game worried me.
Then I saw the movie when it came out back in 2013. It’s an adaptation of a much loved science fiction book – of course I saw it! And then… I was disappointed. Based on my faltering faith in old school sci-fi, Ender’s Game went on my “low priority” list.
And that was dumb.
Ender’s Game is fantastic. It was not what I expected. I prepared myself for something violent, possibly with lines of sexism and racism, and I didn’t find it. There are no graphic scenes in this book. There’s women in positions of influence and power, and there’s people from all over the world at Battle School and Command School. Ender’s Game is representative of all sorts of people, and it tells a fantastic story. This is a bildungsroman and a dystopia and a war story and a space opera and a boarding school story… it’s just REALLY good. There’s so much to it, and it’s effortless.
It’s easy to love all the characters. Bean, Elia, Petra? They’re wonderful. Ender and Valentine are perfect enigmas and I was never really show whether they were going to truly be good or evil. The twists I wanted were there with them. And the villains, like Peter, are fantastic. The science is fascinating without being over the top, and because Ender is so young, there’s no romance.
Ender’s Game circles around a little boy who, at his oldest in the heart of the story, is about twelve? But it is so accessible that I can see this being a good book for almost any age. It’s accessible for middle grade readers while still being fascinating and relatable to adults. I never felt that there were overly mature passages or that the author had included offense content. I’m actually amazed by this – so many books written 30+ years ago are riddled with problematic content… and Ender’s Game isn’t. It’s such an example of how to speak to the human spirit. Not cater to a certain age or to the privileged – anyone can read this book and enjoy it.
Well, anyone with a vague interest in science fiction. Though honestly? It’s so accessible, you don’t need to love sci-fi. You just have to be okay with outer space and some advanced tech. Honestly.
I just… I loved Ender’s Game so much, guys. I thought it would be slow, but it swept me up. I thought it would have problematic bits, but it was lovely. I thought it would feel outdated, but it’s very present. I thought it would be boring and it was amazing. Ender’s Game surpassed all my expectation and I can’t recommend it highly enough.
Have you ever procrastinated on a book only to LOVE it? This is definitely not the first time I’ve shot myself in the foot – good books come out of nowhere! Let me know in the comments which ones far exceeded your expectations!