It's hard to go into a book like Ender's Game without sky high expectations. It has a huge fan base that sings its praises and is a recipient of manyIt's hard to go into a book like Ender's Game without sky high expectations. It has a huge fan base that sings its praises and is a recipient of many prestigious awards. But it's also hard to finish the book without wondering why. Ender's Game is not a bad book, but it certainly isn't a book that warrants such acclaim. It tells an interesting enough story, for the most part, but it's full of fridge logic and uninteresting side plots.
The side plot with Locke and Demosthenes is largely unneeded and could have easily been written out of the book. This plot line apparently comes into play in a much more important role in later books in the series, however it serves little purpose here and the sizable portion of the book that it takes up is quite boring.
Pace presents another problem with the novel. Not only does the side plot mentioned above bring the pace to aggravatingly slow levels, but the third act practically crawls to the finish line. Not too mention the fact that by this point the novel has become quite repetitious in its format and has really hammered its "adults are bad, kids are good" theme down the reader's throat. This makes the lackluster ending even more disappointing.
Fridge logic (which, for those who don't know, is a plot point that doesn't bother you upon initially reading about it, but instead bothers you at some indeterminable time after you finish reading the book) is quite prevalent throughout the novel. It's hard to go into detail about it without revealing key plot points but some instances involve; the way the teachers handle Ender's questionable actions (which I'll go into in more detail soon), the selection of one of his most important teachers, and the humans reluctance to accept a logical description of "bugger" physiology. Again, these complaints relate to fridge logic so they really won't keep you from enjoying the story your first time through. As a result, these complaints are minor.
Perhaps my biggest complaint with Ender's Game (that can be discussed, for the most part, without spoilers) is with the consequences of Ender's actions, or rather, the lack of consequences. Ender is never shown that he is accountable for what he does. That's not really a message I like seeing on the Young Adult shelf of my local Barnes and Noble. Not only that, but it doesn't make sense story wise.
Since Ender is never taught that his violent actions are dangerous to those around him, he could have easily injured or killed one of his friends at Battle School in a friendly bit of rough housing (which even the kids there are prone to engaging in) as he clearly isn't aware of his own capabilities, as the book brings out. If that happened, it wouldn't matter how well they trained Ender, since he would be lacking a full team of people that he could work well with in the battle against the "buggers", effectively ruining the chances of human survival. And that's assuming he doesn't spiral into depression and actually makes it to the battle after that.
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Despite the above complaints, there are some praise worthy things about Ender's Game. Most of the characters are likable, the story entertains (provided you don't think about it too much), and it's a pretty easy read if you're a patient reader. I may not understand why it's so heavily praised, but I can admit that the book kept me entertained, for the most part, throughout its duration. ...more
1984 is not a novel. Don't be fooled by its use of characters and "story" events. There is no tale told within its covers. What it is is an essay. An1984 is not a novel. Don't be fooled by its use of characters and "story" events. There is no tale told within its covers. What it is is an essay. An essay that is either incredibly long and equally redundant, or regular in length and printed over and over again. I haven't decided which yet. Either way, I'm sure you see my point. 1984 works better as an essay on totalitarianism than a story with likable characters who we go on a journey with.
Redundancy is an always present force in this "novel". Even the characters in the book comment on it indirectly (which gives the book a kind of weird, unintentional [probably:] self awareness). Points are made and remade, disguised only by the setting they're said in and how they're said. It's like a model at a fashion show who keeps changing her outfit. Despite the wardrobe changes, she's still the same person, she just looks a little different. This redundancy can't even be chalked up to over elaboration on a main theme or set of points as he never really elaborates on the points he makes, he just makes them.
Perhaps the redundant nature of 1984 could be forgiven if it had characters that we could identify with. Instead we have human shells walking about through the "story". We only sympathize with Winston because of the horrible actions of The Party, not because he has personality (though perhaps that is intentional). As a result, Winston is no more likable or relatable than any unnamed resident of Oceania. Even events that would serve as a means of developing the character serve, instead, as a tool to restate the points that have been restated already pages before. Let's move on though, for I fear my complaints will soon become redundant (har har).
Orwell really has created a chilling false utopia. The power The Party holds over its citizens and the examples of it are quite scary. This aspect of 1984 is what gives it its two stars. It's the aspect of the "novel" (no, I'm not gonna stop doing that) that elicits an emotional reaction. That is where 1984 succeeds. Not with its characters, not with its "story", not with its themes. Its The Party itself that makes the reader think and feel, nothing else.
Personally, I liked 1984 better the first time I read it, when it had a story and characters. More specifically, I liked 1984 better when it was called Animal Farm....more