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Ender's Game by Orson Scott Card
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Jan 13, 2018

it was amazing
bookshelves: 20th-century-literature, fantasy-sci-fi, saw-the-movie, to-be-read-in-2018, young-adult, war
Recommended for: hesitant readers of sci-fi

Well, I'm not a huge Sci-Fi reader, but I had seen this movie and decided to give the book a try, and I'm so glad I did! One of my rules is that typically I won't watch a movie until I've read the book first, but this was one of those cases where I didn't know about the book until after seeing the film. I still hold to my theory that the book is always better than movie, but I am going to watch the movie again, now having read the book. This may not be the greatest science fiction novel - I don't read that much sci-fi so I may not be the best judge - but I liked it.

In the book, Ender is only six years old when he is first enlisted for Battle School. Having undergone an attack by an alien species referred to as the Buggers, Earth has already retaliated once, but is preparing for another encounter, hoping to defeat the threatening enemy for good. The government observes, monitors and tests children in hopes of identifying those who will make the best candidates to train for this army of fighters, but they are especially looking for the one individual that they hope can lead their army to victory.

Battle School is no Summer Camp; while much of the training is in the form of video games, simulations, and team face-offs, it is grueling and demanding, especially for a six-year-old boy who is younger and smaller than all the other students and who doesn't have a mean bone in his body. But Ender is a survivor and a genius strategist - one who can think outside the box, can think like his opponent, and can improvise on the fly. I just loved this kid and felt so bad for him as he became isolated and lonely as a result of being so bright and so good at what he did. How was he going to survive, when so many of the bigger boys resented him, were threatened and intimidated by his success and wanted to take him out? How could he ever make friends, or even know who he could trust or confide in? He even comes to believe that the authorities are not being honest with him or are just manipulating and toying with him.

Ender moves up in the ranks quickly and is made a commander by the age of 11, a rank that is not normally assigned until age 16. He soon has earned the respect of many and begins to train his own group of followers. He's not easy on his team, but they learn to trust his instincts and will follow his instructions, no questions asked. Battle after battle, Ender's team goes undefeated against the other teams, even when the rules keep getting changed on him. As the training simulations get harder, more tricky, and less predictable, it begins to look like Ender has what it takes to eventually lead the armies of Earth to defeat their dreaded enemy. Ender isn't sure it's what he wants to do, but how can he turn away from his calling to save the entire human race from destruction, if possible? I don't want to give it away, but when all is said and done, I believe Ender makes the best decision he could.

So here is the main idea I took away from this story:
Basically the reason Earth is at war with the Buggers is because each species misunderstands the other due to a lack of communication. Each makes certain assumptions about the other based on what they know and experience, but without knowing or learning anything about the other. Each side judges the motives and intentions of the other side by what they observe, and as a result draws false conclusions. It's from this misinformation or ignorance that each side decides what action to take. How many wars have taken place, friendships ended, and marriages destroyed, simply because two parties are either unable or unwilling to take the time and effort to try to listen and understand each other? How many times do we judge someone based on external observation and draw wrong conclusions without confirming and trying to come to an understanding? And how often does ignorance turn to fear and eventually hatred?

Ender realizes that the Buggers acted in ignorance when they attacked Earth. In turn Earth responded ignorantly based on assumptions drawn from the Buggers' actions. Ignorance resulted in fear, which turned to hatred. In the end, no one wins. But Ender discovers there might just be a way to start over, and he decides to take matters into his own hands with the hope of finding forgiveness, restoring a lost race and establishing understanding and peace where there once was ignorance, fear, and hatred.

"In the moment that I truly understand my enemy, understand him well enough to defeat him, then in that very moment, I also love him."

Good Luck, Ender. I look forward to reading the second book to find out how successful you will be!
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Quotes Linda Liked

Orson Scott Card
“I think that most of us, anyway, read these stories that we know are not "true" because we're hungry for another kind of truth: the mythic truth about human nature in general, the particular truth about those life-communities that define our own identity, and the most specific truth of all: our own self-story. Fiction, because it is not about someone who lived in the real world, always has the possibility of being about oneself. --From the Introduction”
Orson Scott Card, Ender's Game

Orson Scott Card
“In the moment when I truly understand my enemy, understand him well enough to defeat him, then in that very moment I also love him. I think it’s impossible to really understand somebody, what they want, what they believe, and not love them the way they love themselves. And then, in that very moment when I love them.... I destroy them.”
Orson Scott Card, Ender's Game

Reading Progress

November 1, 2015 – Shelved
November 1, 2015 – Shelved as: to-read
December 29, 2015 – Shelved as: wishlist
August 11, 2016 – Shelved as: to-read
August 11, 2016 – Shelved as: 20th-century-literature
August 11, 2016 – Shelved as: fantasy-sci-fi
August 11, 2016 – Shelved as: saw-the-movie
December 22, 2017 – Shelved as: to-be-read-in-2018
January 8, 2018 – Started Reading
January 12, 2018 –
page 88
January 13, 2018 –
page 193
January 18, 2018 –
page 240
January 26, 2018 – Finished Reading
January 27, 2018 – Shelved as: young-adult
January 27, 2018 – Shelved as: war

Comments (showing 1-2 of 2) (2 new)

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Nola Redd There are two series that branch off from this one. Speaker for the Dead follows the grown-up Ender (mostly, although now there's an in-between that delves into the end of Ender's Game in more detail. That said, I would lump that with the second series.) The second is a more parallel series that follows Bean and starts with Ender's Shadow. There is some overlap at Battle School but mostly not, and Card does a good job setting the scene differently from Bean's perspective in each case.
Speaker for the Dead is more serious and grown up and thought-process, but in reality, not as much fun. I vastly prefer the Bean spinoff and how they show the world to be. They also follow Peter's struggle to become ruler of the world.
And if you're really loving the books, Card has recently put out some Mazer Rackham prequels about the first Bugger War.

Ender's Game has been my favorite book since I was maybe 12. I was thoroughly disgusted with the movie, to be honest. My daughter, also a fan, called it "the worst movie ever."

Enjoy!! Some great books.

Linda Thanks for your comments, Nola, I was going to read Speaker for the Dead next, but I actually just got a copy of Ender's Shadow which I'm looking forward to reading first.

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