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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 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 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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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 10 February 2008
Ender's Game is a book that will speak directly to whoever reads it, for it is about loneliness and specialist expertise - two things that everyone is familiar with in their own lives, in one way or another.

Ender is a young prodigy space battle commander whose adventures through training school make up most of the book. Ender makes friends and enemies, and must deal with life in a world where no-one understands him, except his sister who he never sees because she is on Earth while he is training in space.

The book covers a lot of different topics, but principle among Card's many theses is that to beat an enemy one must understand them completely: one must - in a manner of speaking - love them. This is a powerful notion and one that is explored in detail, with a very emotionally resonant ending and surprise epilogue.

I particularly enjoyed the videogame which Ender returns to throughout the book, where he is exploring an alien planet and battling various nightmarish foes, solving puzzles, and put under extreme emotional strain. It reminded me of the kind of videogames we are beginning to see nowadays (such as Shadow of the Colossus) and I was amazed an author had come up with it so many years ago.

An emotional and intelligent book, for adults and children alike.
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on 2 February 2016
Good story, appealing to adults and intelligent older children. It is about the highly unusual education, through ‘games’ with a very serious purpose, of a boy known as ‘Ender’ (which is the nearest his little sister can pronounce to his real name ‘Andrew’), one of a group of children selected for their exceptional qualities, being tested and prepared to one day potentially command Earth’s space fleet against a hostile alien civilization.

Some of that sounds clichéd, but the way it is done, it is not. The ‘battle to save humanity as we know it’ aspect is the background that makes the story seem important, not the story itself. There is more than one surprise towards the end.

The author says in the preface that he has a post-graduate degree in literature and could have written in a ‘literary’ style with ‘themes’ if he wished. Instead, he uses language more simply as a means to get on with the story, not an end in itself, although there is an occasional memorable phrase e.g. ‘Ender’s anger was cold, so he could use it; Bozo’s anger was hot, so it used him.’

The name the American author gives in the book to the colony insect-like (or ‘bug-like’) aliens may cause British readers to blush; the word ‘Buggers’ does not have the meaning in the USA that it does in Britain.

I understand there is a whole series of sequels, beginning with ‘Speaker for the Dead’ and then ‘Xenocide’, but that they are quite different kinds of story. Enders Game as a satisfying book by itself whether or not you read further.
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TOP 500 REVIEWERon 13 October 2015
The book is certainly one of those sci-fi classics one should read, as they are in some way truly genre defining. Ender - the protagonist - is a precocious child recruited into the military at a truly tender age and being groomed for command through a future version of a military academy. The fight everyone is preparing for is against 'buggers' an insect like alien species with a hive mind and Ender is used as an example of how the future of the military could look like.

Even though the book primarily revolves around issues of militray / command training, of what it takes and how this could change - the trainees in the book generally start at the age of three or so, joining the academy at around 6 or 7 years old - there is enough societal commentary to make the reader not only focused on the military take pause and think.

Issues of how society is likely to deal with overpopulation, of an uneasy post Cold War world, that is on the verge of returning there, family ties, etc. are all obliquely addressed and add some real richness to the book.

On the military side the author manages to capture some pretty classical post Vietnam US principles, while at the same time relatively presciently describing unmanned combat (even if this is not always clear from the book). As such the book does a good job of examining some of the issues arising from the slow but inexorable change from manned to unmanned systems in warfare - possibly one of the reasons, why it is so widely read in military circles (for those more interested in the subject, Wired for War: The Robotics Revolution and Conflict in the 21st Century is a good non-fiction complement).

The book is part of a series (with Speaker For The Dead: Book 2 in the Ender Saga (The Ender Quartet series) and Xenocide: Book 3 of the Ender Saga (The Ender Quartet series) following) but can easily be read as a stand alone volume.

I would definitely recommend it to all sci-fi fans (especially those prefering a military slant of the genre) and definitely to all readers interested in military / strategy matters more generally. The fact that it is a truly engaging book in addition to being so genre defining is of course an added bonus :)
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on 12 August 2015
** spoiler alert ** Unlike the last book I read, this was a winner. A character you cared about; increasing scale or risks and dangers; chapters that led you on; challenges that seemed insurmountable, but then were conquered satisfyingly, making you say Oh yes, I didn't think of that." I wanted to pick the book up and continue, which is always the greatest compliment to a work. And the author pulls the wool over our eyes successfully a few times, with a very satisfying sleight of hand that works. The concepts of the game, and his game, are brought into sharp relief.

So, overall, a fantastic book and well worth reading.

Spoilers will now follow, for the few things stuck out as unsatisfying compared to the quality of the rest of the work.

1. Just before the final battle, Ender asks a question about using the weapon on a planet. So it then loses the dramatic surprise when he does this. We were only told a page ago that he was considering this option. It would have been more satisfying to spring it as a surprise.

2. During the battles one Bugger planet and many ships are destroyed. Are we meant to believe that every queen was on that one planet or in space, and none were on the other bugger worlds? That is implausible and doesn't fit with other details we're given. Therefore it wouldn't have ended the war, there would have been other queens and Bugger individuals on the planets. It feels a bit like a contrived gloss-over in order to make the story work.

3. When Ender finds the physical manifestation of the game he had played (giant's body) it is artistically satisfying. However, it is totally implausible. Buggers, which didn't understand many human concepts, would have had to have known Ender would travel to their worlds; to that particular planet; to that particular place, so that when he flies around he comes across the construction. That was too much chance. Imagine a single playground on Earth with a message for you on it, and you dropped onto our planet at random, then went for a short walk and came across it. Too much of a coincidence, and it is telling that the super-intelligent Ender who questions everything else does not question this. Facts glossed over to make a particular story element work.
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on 30 April 2016
I saw the film (again) the other week and really wanted to find out what happened where it left off, so I thought I’d give the books a go.

First of all, I loved the pacing of the story. It was extremely well-balanced, with the plot always moving and yet containing plenty of detail without being boring.

The only thing that stuck out for me was the main protagonist was aged 6! The way the characters thought/acted was extremely mature, the kind of mature that you would expect from a person 10 or even 20 years older, but having a 6 year old do all of this seemed rather unbelievable.

The author added a foreword at the start of the book highlightling how many letters he’d gotten back from gifted children who found that they could relate to the story. But 6 year olds are doing all of this!? (We need some of these youths in government solving the world’s ills!)

*Ahem* Maybe I’m just jealous :)

That aside the story was spectacular, I couldn’t recommend it enough. I had heard so many people bemoaning that the film had taken great liberties with the story, but all I can say in answer is that “of course it is going to cut things out, it’s a film”, it did a good enough job and kept many of the major plot points in the story and - end result: I discovered an awesome book series. :)
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on 25 August 2014
I found the book quite boring and a bit of a mess. I found it difficult to get into the story or the characters, Ender is shallow and the people he interacts with felt one dimensional. The ending seemed rushed with several characters story arcs wrapped up two clinically. Disappointed.
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