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Wednesday, November 29, 2006

Ender's Game

Ender's Game by Orson Scott Card

October 9, 2001

As the author himself says, some people really like this book, others loathe it. I think those who hate it are the naive who just can't understand why the government would turn a brilliant child into a killer. But you have to understand that the humans aren't sure when the "buggers" will be back to try for the hat trick at destroying humanity, they can't wait the 20-30 years it would take for a Caesar or Napoleon to develop on his own, so they push his latent brilliance, molding it into the genius they need to win the war for good.

Overall, I thought the book was good. Ender is a sympathetic character, he doesn't want to kill, but is forced to keep doing it. Until the end when he winds up nearly going insane from his internal conflict. The rest of the characters are scantily described, but that's because the focus of the book, Ender, is usually isolated from everyone else so that we can't get to know them.

There are a few things that keep this book from being the "greatness" others call it. One, there's a little sloppy writing concerning the point of view. The story primarily is focused through Ender, but there are times when in the middle of a scene it seems to drift to someone else a bit. This is something I've noticed because people say I have a tendency to do that myself. In particular there is a whole chapter in the middle focusing on Ender's older brother and sister back home on Earth and their scheme to rule the world.

Second, the end of the book wraps up much too quickly. After Ender wins the war, there's a real thumbnail sketch of WWIII (which lasts about 5 days), and how Ender and his sister go to a former bugger colony, where Ender finds a hidden message from the buggers and sets forth to repopulate some unsuspecting planet with them. Eight years of action is summarized in about 20 pages. Card wrote sequels, so I don't see why he rushed the ending here so much.

This is a good book, but because of those problems, it fails to become a great book. It's still well worth the read, though.

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