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on 16 May 2005
I have read my fair share of fantasy and have therefore found several cases in which the author creates a well-crafted world. Orson Scott Card excels in this aspect, presenting a setting that is on the borderline between a fantastic world and a possible future for our own existence. One of the aspects that I enjoyed most about this work is the complex set of rules created by the author and the heavy weight politics and philosophy play in the story.
Andrew Wiggin, also known as Ender due to his sister's inability for voicing his real name, is a very special little kid. His parents received a special permission from the government to have a third child due to their outstanding genes, overriding the law that prevents having more that two kids. As a result Ender has worn a monitor since his birth and every one of his actions has been analyzed in extreme detail. But now the monitor needs to come off, and the people that have been monitoring him are interested in making life difficult for him to unveil his reactions.
Of course it does not stop there, and when the offer from Colonel Graff for joining the Battle school is presented to Ender, he has to go fulfill his duty and leave behind his family and the human being he cares about the most, his sister Valentine. The Battle School should not be taken lightly. Eighty years ago, the humans fought a war against the buggers and were only able to survive thanks to a brilliant commander. Now humanity depends on the ability of the high ranks of the military to find a new leader, and Ender is one of the hopes they have for salvation. The fact that he is younger than most in Battle School will certainly make things difficult for him, and keep things interesting for us.
Besides providing with great entertainment, this book makes us think about what may lie in the future, what are the ethical implications of war and whether or not is OK to achieve our ends without caring for what the means used are. We also get an interesting fictional look at life in the military, and our fare share of action. One thing about this book is undeniable; it is like nothing you have ever read, so if you are looking for something different, this one is for you.
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on 10 September 2003
Orson Scott Card, in his fascinating introduction to this book, indicated that 'Ender's Game' only became a full length novel when he brought up the problem of developing the back story for the (now) second volume in the Ender cycle, 'Speaker for the Dead'. We must all be grateful for this fortuitous concatenation of events, since otherwise the canon of science fiction literature would of lost one of its most powerful tales.
This is the story of Ender. A child wrenched from the dysfunctional bosom of his family to be trained remorsely in the art of modern tactical warfare. Previously, homo sapiens had nearly been exterminated by the Buggers in a terrible intergalatic war, but had been saved by the ingenuity of one commander. For the inevitable next chapter in this ongoing war the military wanted to leave as little as possible to chance. The child genius Ender, who passed the necessary psychological profiles, was the realisation of this dream. His entire life would be dedicated to one day taking charge of the space fleets and fighting the Buggers until they were no longer a threat.
The book follows the trajectory of Ender's life, starting from the day he is selected for special training. We live out Ender's childhood with him, watching his intrinsic humanity be assailed by military officers who only have one goal in mind, but it is his fortitude which is the one true constant of the novel. The book is so compelling because it relentlessly tracks Ender's internal character in this far too believable future scenario, and couples this with a wealth of illuminating details. For instance, the 'Battle Room', where player's strategies are developed, is gloriously explored in every conceivable way; as a physical space, as a mental space, and as a psychological space. Or Ender's relationships with the other children who see him as outcast, rebel, enemy, competitor, superior at various stages and emote to him accordingly. Or the Dr Strangelove-esque exchanges between two high-ranking officers that begin each chapter. Here's an excerpt:
'I'll lie to him'
'And if that doesn't work?'
'Then I'll tell the truth. We're allowed to do that in emergencies.'
In the final analysis, the novel is a clarion call to compassion and understanding, and is a scathing indictment of the ultra-rational military mindset. Unmissable.
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on 14 August 2003
I love reading, and I always have a book on the go. I have therefore read a fair few books. But of all the great books I have read, I only recommend three, and this is one of them. When I started reading Enders Game I was intrigued right from the start. I quickly became engrossed and then completely absorbed to the point I didn't want to put it down. I would read it for hours on end.
Why? People often say that the book is better than the film. Enders Game to me has the same distinction from other books. The story is incredibly absorbing and exceptionally fulfilling to read. You always want to know whats going to happen next and the story just keeps building and building. At no point does it disappoint or ebb. There are lots of books I have read and enjoyed, but Enders Game really stands out from the crowd. It was a real pleasure to read.
I had doubts about a book staring a six year old. I needn't have doubted. Ender is an exceptionally likeable and interesting character, he really grew on me and I felt a real connection. The only negative point I can think of is that its a real downer to finish the book, but only because it has finished. I can truly recommend this book to everyone as it is without doubt one of those rare books that truly rewards the reader!
A word of warning, if you are planning to buy this book, better not read lgonggr's review below (Leimuiden, Netherlands). He mentions some things that in my opinion may spoil your experience!
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on 20 December 1997
Ender's Game was a good book; when I was in Junior High. And Im not going to mark it down because Im older now. Its still a good book and will continue to be. I thought the story line and the characters were imaginative and well thought out. I dont suggest this book for the older audience, but It would make a good gift for a teenager. The lower scorers should have done thair homework and found out what level a reader would be reading this book. I feel Orson Scott Card did a good job at bringing in the younger crowd into the usually criptic realm of Sci-fi. When you read this book you must remember that it is Science Fiction; and not reality. Sure Ender is young to be acting like an adult; but so was Caesar and Augustus and they were real. All I can say is read it and keep an open mind.
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on 28 November 2013
I appreciate this is against the grain, however I found this a dull, predictable read. The introduction (by the author) waxes lyrical about how it's been written in an accessible style etc.

Yes, it's accessible, it's also inconsistent, simplistic and leaps about in terms of treating kids Ike adults, then kids, then adults.

In some respects, it's aged well and clearly had a very good view of the future - however some of that future is here now and as such elements - particularly the bits involving Peter and Valentine - are a bit saccharine/cringeworthy.

In parts, it's almost like the author kept forgetting his characters were supposed to be children.

Half the book focuses on annihilation and then the last part is redemption - but it doesn't work for me and in some bits it just doesn't work full stop (how do Ender's friends partake in the final games, survive them and still be around when compared to what is described and the time spans mentioned for interstellar travel?).

Obviously many many people enjoyed it - for me, it was disappointing and I won't be picking up any other books by the author.
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on 2 December 2012
The story had some great science fiction ideas. But ultimately was rather predictable. The big problem for me is that the hero is one of those who can do everything and is great and everything and never did I feel there was any challenge for him. It's a nice read but not much more than that.
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on 18 July 2003
Enders game can be read as a stand alone book but it is best read as an introduction to its sequels, however saying this it is still a good book in its own right, the novel focuses almost entirly on ender with the other characters all in support, even thouigh this is the case the autor does give these characters great depth.
The plot mainly concerns enders training and participation in the bugger war and some of the events the follow it, this plot is however more of a background to the novel which mainly foucuses on enders personal life and his struggle to maintain control, most seen in the computer gaem scenes
The plot may have several obvious flaws, the most obvious being the ages of the characters, but if you are able to put these flaws aside it its a great book.
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on 21 April 2004
When I first found that book I wasn't sure if I should actually buy it or not. The abstract of Ender's Game reads more like a military sci-fi story which I usually don't like. However, having read incredible good reviews of this book I decided to give it a chance. The story is set in the future when humans had already fought their first war with an extraterrestrial species called the Buggers. Constant fear of another Bugger attack forces the world government to develop a strong military scheme which identifies and trains highly talented and intelligent young kids to be the military commanders of the future. Deprived of their childhood, these kids are put into battle games to improve their tactical and analytical skill sets. Ender Wiggin is the genius among the youngsters. He wins all the battle games and gets ready for the final encounter with the Buggers. This book is one of the best sci-fi books I have ever read and definitely plays in the same league as Ubik by Philip K. Dick or other master pieces. The book is rich of character development which is kind of unusual in the sci-fi space. In fact, Orscon Scott also published a textbook on character and viewpoint for novel writers. Ender's game delivers such great insights into the psyche of these highly talented kids and also doesn't fail to deliver great story twists and suspense. I have also recommended the book to non-sci-fi friends of mine and they all loved it. However the only drawback I noticed is the rather awkward integration of the 'speaker of the dead' character. I am very sure that Orson Scott did that to have a smooth transition to the sequel of this book. He may have even added that part after the book was finished. In my opinion, this particular bit of the book doesn't work out properly.
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on 4 February 2014
Ender's game is poorly written and more repetitive than the teletubbies. Again and again Ender is put up against all the odds and overcomes them because he's an unfathomable genius who's humanities last hope. This series of events quickly becomes wearisome and I completely lost interest.

The only reason I can assume this book is so highly regarded as 'good' Sci-fi and I didn't like it is because I'm way to old for it. This book probably shouldn't be read by anyone over 13. Under that and you'll probably enjoy it from all the simulator guff alone.

Also it turns out Orson Scott Card is an arch homophobe so maybe it's not actually appropriate to allow under 13's access to this man's train of conciousness.
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on 24 July 2015
Ender's Game is one of those sci-fi classics that everyone raves about, but despite being a fan of sci-fi, somehow I never got around to reading it. I've read some OSC before, and while I think he's an odious little man in real life, I have generally enjoyed his fiction.

However, this... I just... I was so... *bored*. Card takes some time in his (frankly pompous) intro to explain how he intended Ender's Game to be simply written so anyone could understand it, and not have to have any literary pretensions to 'get' it - he also makes rather a big deal about how he has a Master's in literature. I'm not sure I'd boast about that, if this was my great literary opus. The style of the writing is not so much simple as downright stilted. I'm not a fan of complexity for the sake of it, but we are talking something barely above "Here is Jane. Here is Peter. They are at home."

Sometimes, simplicity works, but in a book like this, so heavily focused on the one character and largely told from inside his head, there needs to be slightly more to grab on to than just being told the kid is a genius and so on. I needed to care what happened to Ender. I didn't.

I didn't even like him, to be honest. Several of the teachers and other adults seemed to be attributing qualities to him (not just his 'genius' but not having any malice - they seemed to think he was basically a nice kid, even commented about how he didn't really mean it when he'd killed one child and injured another...) that simply didn't seem to mesh with the character I was reading about. I felt like I was being told a lot which didn't jive at all with what was being shown, which is a real irritation to me when reading fiction. Now, don't get me wrong, a character doesn't have to be likeable to be the focus of a good piece of fiction, but it helps if one at least cares what might happen to him. In this case... not so much. There was nothing there to make me care about him.

As I write this I realise what bothered me; Ender comes off more as a cypher, a reader stand-in, with no personality of his own, and my goodness, it's dull. I'm so sick of books that do that. OSC doesn't even have the excuse of writing in an era when that seems to be an enormously popular route to publication. Maybe he was just head of his time... ;)

Maybe if I'd read this when I was that bright child who didn't fit in, I'd have identified with him and filled in the gaps, and the whole story would've meant much more to me. Reading it as an adult, it just seems cynical and lazy, and left me feeling like I'd wasted even the small amount of time I spent trying to read the book. Maybe I missed the window in which Ender's Game would have appealed to me. At any rate, I found it dull, with one dimensional characters lacking in credibility, and I just plain old got bored.

Sad to read what is supposed to be a classic and find it so very disappointing.
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