By Orson Scott Card
I hate reading books around the same time the movie is coming out because then it looks like I just jumped on the bandwagon. Truthfully, I have heard positive reviews of Ender's Game for years but because I was taking classes and then prepping for/taking my PhD qualifying exams, I haven't really had the time. It is pure coincidence.
This is the story of Ender, a child genius who is tapped to become the hero for all of humanity. There has been an ongoing war against a bug-like alien race that attacked humans decades before. Since then, children are trained from a young age to command in the military and defeat the enemy.
Ender is six years-old and already is predicted to be the one destined to end the war. He is a complicated child (with a slightly creepy relationship with his older sister) who fears becoming violent like his older brother. At the same time, he understands tactics and does whatever it takes to stop people bullying him (including kicking some major ass).
He excels in his military training, is promoted faster than anyone else in history, and demonstrates a natural ability to lead/strategize.
I don't know what I was expecting but I really enjoyed this book.
The battle training was really fun and I loved Ender's unique strategies. My favorite parts were his simulations on his computer: I was obsessed with the challenges and the symbolism involved.
It was definitely violent but never advocated such actions. In fact, the overall theme had to do with the problem of violent action over diplomacy.
I thought the side plot with the siblings was okay. Not really necessary and not totally believable, but I understood its purpose in the larger narrative.
I admit though that the end was a bit wonky. *SPOILER ALERT* Too many unanswered questions and what I call "reaches" where it is just too much of a stretch. The planet was destroyed but they are able to live there? And if the buggers could communicate with Ender, why didn't he figure this out before the war? Is there a guarantee that the new species will be nonviolent? How can he be so sure?
SPOILER ALERT OVER.
Regardless, this is a fun read. According to my main squeeze (who was in the Air Force for seven years) the school is very reminiscent of basic training. I appreciated feeling a bit more connected to his experience and felt that I had a new understanding (not that he traveled deep into space or had to battle intergalactic bugs, but still).
I am ready to see what happens next!