IN SHORT: Meet Andrew “Ender” Wiggin, the boy who could become humanity’s greatest military genius. If he doesn’t go crazy first.
WHAT IT IS: Ender’s Game is a classic in every sense of the word. It still shines brightly now, just as it did decades ago. In fact, I’d say that it’s actually better the second time. Knowing the twist going in adds extra tension to numerous scenes, especially near the end of the novel. The intense focus on Ender as a character is expertly pulled off by Orson Scott Card, creating a truly memorable experience.
WHAT IT IS NOT: That same intense focus that brings Ender to the forefront also pushes other elements of the novel back. Much of the world around Ender is left up to the reader’s imagination. There’s actually very little descriptive prose in the novel. Sci-fi fans looking for a lot of rich world building may find this aspect not to their tastes.
WHAT I THOUGHT: I loved this book. I loved it the first time I read it, something like twenty years ago, and I loved it this time too. It’s an incredible story that really sucks you in and doesn’t let go. It’s a fascinating experience, reading what happens to Ender, how he evolves, and ultimately what he becomes.
The novel also makes the reader empathize for this poor, haunted, brilliant boy who is being molded into the perfect weapon. All of the other characters are really window dressing. Ender is the star and the novel is stronger because of this choice.
The invading aliens are my other favorite part of this novel. They don’t play a very active role, but it’s critically important nonetheless. Insect alien races are a dime a dozen in sci-fi, but Orson Scott Card manages to make these aliens feel unique and interesting. There’s a thoughtful and interesting reason for why the aliens and humans are fighting and why there can’t be any peace. It’s a very cool take on what could have been a throwaway aspect of the novel.
And, of course, there’s the twist. Most of us know it by now, but let me say this. The twist is still awesome. Even knowing it’s coming, the twist at the end still delivers. Ender’s Game is a remarkable book that should not be missed.
VERDICT: Strongly recommended.