John Wiswell's Reviews > Ender's Game

Ender's Game by Orson Scott Card
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's review
Aug 13, 2007

did not like it
Recommended for: Hardcore sci fi fans
Read in May, 2006

This is a novel that blows past conventional ideas like "disbelief." Apparently humanity, a species whose only real claim to fame is war, now stinks at war, and can only be saved by a child genius who is one part prophecy, one part bad science, and one part wish-fulfillment. Thanks to this plan, we are treated to a gaggle of super-intelligent children who seldom appear particularly clever (in fact many behave with adult maturity rather than abnormal intellect) and achieve greatness not through any great effort that we follow (rather you'll read recaps of their successful efforts), but because the author wants them to achieve these things. In this, the definitive edition of Ender's Game, there is almost nothing earned within the plot.

It's a decent story, but for a book with so many events there is very little consequence or risk, and the character development is so linear and stale. That last quality is particularly cloying considering that, prodigies or not, most of the characters are children and at least one of them should develop in an unexpected way. Instead the unexpected developments we get are humorlessly absurd, like two prodigies fooling the world with a fake op-ed column that earns them political power. The ending is predictable and deliberately anti-climactic, robbing the novel of its one true punch. The trade-off is, instead of getting the thing the book was building to, you get the opportunity for sequels and spin-offs. If you liked the infallible, mostly emotionless and paper-thin protagonist, then that's a good thing. If you were hoping to have the hours you put into the book validated with some real emotion at the end, well, neither this author's definitive edition nor any other is going to help you.
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02/14/2016 marked as: read

Comments (showing 1-28)

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Vivian What a great review.

Dakota Harness lies

message 26: by Joshua (new)

Joshua Rupp I hope this gets around - so far, the only thing keeping everyone from tearing the racist homophobic Bible-thumping bugfaced asshole that is Card into recyclable shreds is nostalgia for his one popular book.

Brandon Moy umm... not really

Winston Well said.

"Oh hey, this kid is special and will save humanity!"

Where have I heard that before? You can't just make kids act like adults if you want them to look intelligent.

Earth Army vs Faceless Alien Army - wow!

Reading it gave me some pleasure but I just had to put it down about halfway through. There's nothing in it for me. I only read it because of the hype, I should have trusted my instincts.

message 23: by Nik (new)

Nik I just finished Enchantment by OSC and liked it. Thanks for the warning for Ender's Game.

Maria Author dedicated this book to Geoffrey with words " who makes me remember how young and how old children can be"This book is message to children that adults are not perfect, not strong and usually their authority is poor. All this book is saying that sometimes you just have to do things your way even though you are 6 or 7 or 8 or 12.

Julie Ramsey I loved it! can't wait for the movie! It is a great YA book. If you look at it with that in mind. It is not suppose to be thought provoking!

Leonardo I actually first read the marvel adaptation. I have to admit those are better that the original, but i still liked the book. A lot

message 19: by Jen (new) - rated it 5 stars

Jen I disagree. While this is not Art of the English Language at it's very finest (Card is no poet), this is still a significant book because it inspired so many imitators, and it created a new kind of story line in the genre. I place this book in the same category as the movie Citizen Kane and every single story written by Philip K. Dick. There was nothing quite like it before it was published, and it can seem dull now because so many things since have copied it. It is likely that someone with more historical knowledge of sci fi than me can correct me on this point. If so, I welcome it. But I have found no evidence yet that this assessment of mine is fundamentally incorrect.

message 18: by John (new) - rated it 1 star

John Wiswell There are a number of authors who were inspired in one way or another by Card. However, the quality of their works does not affect the quality of this work. I reviewed this book. If you think there is a great book that imitates it, Jen, I would be happy to give that a look.

message 17: by Nick (new) - rated it 5 stars

Nick "...for a book with so many events there is very little consequence or risk"
I'm lost as to what you're trying to convey with that sentence. Could you elaborate? Also, why do you say, " least one of them should develop in an unexpected way"? Their developments disappoint you, I take it, but that shouldn't mean there aren't unexpected ones. Peter doesn't turn out to be a villain; Ender's true nature as a killer isn't ever expanded; Graff actually cares greatly about the students; and Ender's parents aren't by any means idiots. There's plenty I could point to from other books in the series, but that would be a bit unfair as here we're limited to Ender's Game.

message 16: by Ross (new) - rated it 5 stars

Ross Did u read the same book I did??
This review is a little off.
Not saying anything about your opinion
Just you got many facts wrong and included things that weren't in the story...

message 15: by John (new) - rated it 1 star

John Wiswell Ross wrote: "Did u read the same book I did??
This review is a little off.
Not saying anything about your opinion
Just you got many facts wrong and included things that weren't in the story..."

Would you like to name some, Ross?

message 14: by Ross (new) - rated it 5 stars

Ross When u referred to humanity as a " species whose only real claim to fame is war"

Ender was always opposed to fighting and war. He just went along with what his commanders said.
The book wasn't even pro war.
And after the bugger war ended so did all war. Just because these kids enjoyed fighting in battle school doesn't mean it's a " claim to fame"

message 13: by Ross (new) - rated it 5 stars

Ross And I used the word facts
What I should have said is ur review may mislead some people who may end up enjoying this book

message 12: by John (new) - rated it 1 star

John Wiswell Ross wrote: "When u referred to humanity as a " species whose only real claim to fame is war"


Ender just following orders does not make war a species's claim to fame. The last three thousand years of human history does that. I'm sorry that my being flippant confused you about the plotting, but even then, my statement about the premise (we stink at war, we need a savior) stands.

message 11: by Ross (new) - rated it 5 stars

Ross Confused. Not at all.
Don't be sorry... and there is no need for an apology either. Lol.
And I didn't find your review disrespectful, tis your opinion.

message 10: by Ross (new) - rated it 5 stars

Ross Review\remarks*

message 9: by John (new) - rated it 1 star

John Wiswell Susannah wrote: "I'm looking for a good chapter book for my nephew, in 5th grade. He likes Star Wars, Percy Jackson mythology, and "who dun its" with kids solving the crime. You've talked me out of Ender's Game. An..."

The first book that comes to mind is Philip Reeve's Mortal Engine, which blends the YA adventure with SF/Steampunk quite well. On the Fantasy side, I can't recommend Ursula K. LeGuin's A Wizard of Earthsea enough - that is a book I honestly wish I'd grown up with. Both of those books start series, too.

But because I'm not much of a MG/YA reader, I asked friends on social networks and drummed up the following list. Hope it helps. To be fair, three people immediately recommended Ender's Game for that age group.

White Mountains by John Christopher (two recs)
The City of Ember by Jeanne DePrau
Chronicles of Prydain by Lloyd Alexander
Eyes of the Dragon by Stephen King
The Magnificent 12 by Michael Grant
The Golden Compass by Phillip Pullman
Wintersmith by Terry Pratchett

BiblioFangirl Thank you! I had a hard time with the book. I kept picking it up and putting it down and finally just needed to force my way through it. Finally, after picking it up again and reading that Ender was 6, I said to my husband (who recommended the book), " Wait...Ender is SIX???" ok, I get that maybe he has some kind of disorder that means he doesn't need a parent/adult to give a crap about him or kiss his scraped knee or anyone to hug him after a bad day, but all those kids? Not a single kid there needs what a typical kid needs? Just because they are super smart? And they don't act like kids. Where is playing with toys? Reading books? Drawing pictures? Playing normal kid stuff? They also are all wonderful in battle, ruthless and surrounded by adults who don't care if they die. I just couldn't buy it. The fact that the human race was almost taken out by bugs was ridiculous. The writing was flat. The kids were apparently super smart, but they were always flinging their genitals around. I don't even know where to begin with this book.

Amol Gupta Your review is like empty calories and fortunately it is pretty short. I would really like to know what makes you think the protagonist was 'infallible, emotionless and paper-thin'? I hope we read the same book as the protagonist in my book was full of empathy even caring about preserving a species that he was tricked (infallible anyone) into destroying. Most of the book is filled with what is going on in his mind and his emotional state. A child who in the end feels and realizes he is just a helpless pawn in others' schemes definitely doesn't come across as superman. There were so many layers to the character that at times you really wondered whether he is a devil and at others you empathize with the treatment meted out to him that is almost driving him nuts.
I think you are just over simplifying the book because that is the easiest thing in the world to do.

Carrie "there is very little consequence or risk" - I think that is the crux of the book, it's drone warfare and one of the biggest debates currently ongoing is about how drone warfare is devoid of the emotion that a hand to hand war evokes. I personally enjoyed this book, I think if you want to actually think about the deeper meanings and implications that you will too.

Alex In this book they are raising children to basicly be super geniuses. It does not strike me odd that the adults cant do it alone. In the book, Ender is only 6, and is smarter than most kids at the age of 13. So its no wonder they are using kids. They can raise them to learn what we know, all by the age of 10, so humanity in this book has not forgotten how to fight, but rather thinks that children raised specifically for this reason are better suited for the job, because they have been preparing for their whole life.

Alex Who ever said that our claim to fame is war? Have you studied military history? Our wars are messy and disgusting, we are, nor have ever been good at it. So war is most certainly not our claim to fame.

message 3: by Joni (new) - rated it 1 star

Joni Willis-varble You left a lot of detail about this stupid book out of your review. Maybe you should just read the books

William Graphic depiction of child abuse and hatred. Sick America.

message 1: by Abigail (new)

Abigail Ik this is the teacher he is like oh heres how to fly heres now to shoot this rocket that's worth 72 billion dollars WELL IF YOU KNOW MR. TEACHER DO IT YOURSELF THESE ARE KIDS

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