02 March 2010
Book Review: Ender's Game
Author: Orson Scott Card
Published: 1977 Pages: 324
Genre: YAL, SFF
Buy | Borrow | Accept | Avoid
I like to think that most people have read (and adored) Ender's Game, so I'm going to do something a bit different with this review. I'm going to comment on the book according to the challenges it covers - especially since it covers so many of the challenges I'm participating in...in which I'm participating.
42 Challenge and Sci-Fi Reading Challenge
Both of these challenges call for participants to read books within the science fiction genre. Ender's Game conforms to the conventions of science fiction perfectly: 1. Events take place in outerspace. 2. Advanced technology is at the forefront of the plot. 3. The war is between humans and aliens. 4. The setting is futuristic. 5. The aliens have supernatural powers, and the lead character has superhuman intelligence. And so on and so forth. Not only does it meet the requirements, so to speak, but also it is a wonderful representative for the genre. The sci-fi elements do not overshadow the human elements of the story, something I look for in all books. The setting and the details are science fiction, but thematically the story is applicable across all genres and all readers.
This challenge wants participants to read books written for a younger audience. Ender, the protagonist, is only 6 years old when the story begins and at the penultimate moment he is not yet 16 (possibly 13 or so?). Many of the other main characters are also children, and it is often stated that the real enemy is adults. The thinking in the book conforms to a popular YAL element: children are considered to be more creative and adaptable than adults, putting them in a position to better act upon events and solve problems.
Outside of subscribing to the conventions of YAL, Ender's Game is a wonderful story for younger readers and adult readers alike. I can't say that the characters are easy to identify with; I never really had a "this could be me" moment. But I think people can relate to the situation because of Card's ability to evoke concern for and pride in Ender. Younger readers will probably focus on the difficulty of Ender's situation, paying attention to his loss of family and friends. Adult readers may find themselves considering the position of the adults in the novel - how far will we go to save humanity?
101 Fantasy Challenge
The difference between the fantasy and science fiction genres has long been blurred. Often lumped together, sci-fi and fantasy are very distinct for me. While this made the 101 Fantasy list and hence counts for the challenge, I find myself struggling a bit as I don't see Ender's Game as a fantasy novel. The elements are science fiction. Fantasy novels are typically set in pre-industrial times or worlds and incorporate magic and supernatural elements. Ender's Game does not do any of this.
As the name suggests, participants re-read books from their past in this challenge. One of the mini-challenges is to re-read a book you read in your childhood, and Ender's Game fits the bill for me. I can't really compare the two experiences as they are so many years apart, but I remember I loved the book the first time I read it, and I love it now.
The inclusion of Ender's Game on any list of banned or challenged books saddens me. Orson Scott Card wrote a bit about the issue here. Apparently the book is banned for profanity and sexual content; although having just finished the book, I can not remember either in the pages. A third charge is that it promotes anti-adult attitudes in children, but I'm not sure a book is necessary for children to feel as such. Card seems to think the primary reason the book is challenged/banned is due to his being a Mormon. Interesting... I am adamantly against the censorship or banning of books for any reason; and in the case of Ender's Game, I can't think of any reason a young reader shouldn't be allowed access to the book.
On a side note, I am distraught that Card is anti-homosexual, and I kind of wish I didn't know that. It hasn't changed my experience of reading the book dramatically, but I think it may effect future readings if I have that in the back of my mind.
If I've missed yours, let me know!
Becky's Book Reviews; As Usual...I Need More Bookshelves; A Striped Armchair; things mean a lot; Trish's Reading Nook; Stainless Steel Droppings; Bart's Bookshelf; Stacy's Books;
Question: If an author disagrees with you about something fundamental but doesn't include their point of view in their books, do you still read their books? For example, I find Card's stance on homosexuality deplorable and ignorant, but I enjoyed Ender's Game (before knowing about his anti-homosexual stance). If you knew some author was say a neo-Nazi, would you read his/her work?
Challenges: Unlock Worlds, 101 Fantasy Reading Challenge, 100+ Reading Challenge, Sci-Fi Challenge, YA Reading Challenge, Flashback Challenge, Reading Resolutions, 42 Challenge, Take Another Chance,