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Monday, May 19, 2014

Review: Ender's Game by Orson Scott Card

Publisher: Tor
Published: 1985
Pages: 324
Source: Borrowed
Rating: 2 Stars

In order to develop a secure defense against a hostile alien race's next attack, government agencies breed child geniuses and train them as soldiers. A brilliant young boy, Andrew "Ender" Wiggin lives with his kind but distant parents, his sadistic brother Peter, and the person he loves more than anyone else, his sister Valentine. Peter and Valentine were candidates for the soldier-training program but didn't make the cut—young Ender is the Wiggin drafted to the orbiting Battle School for rigorous military training.
Ender's skills make him a leader in school and respected in the Battle Room, where children play at mock battles in zero gravity. Yet growing up in an artificial community of young soldiers Ender suffers greatly from isolation, rivalry from his peers, pressure from the adult teachers, and an unsettling fear of the alien invaders. His psychological battles include loneliness, fear that he is becoming like the cruel brother he remembers, and fanning the flames of devotion to his beloved sister.
Is Ender the general Earth needs? But Ender is not the only result of the genetic experiments. The war with the Buggers has been raging for a hundred years, and the quest for the perfect general has been underway for almost as long. Ender's two older siblings are every bit as unusual as he is, but in very different ways. Between the three of them lie the abilities to remake a world. If, that is, the world survives.

In short: Ender's Game by Orson Scott Card is WAY overrated.
What does it mean that I - a self-proclaimed sci fi fan - ended up disliking the classic of science fiction, Ender's Game? Can I call myself a sci fi fan anymore? Did I miss the mark on this one? I don't know, maybe I just didn't get it; I didn't get why Ender's Game is considered to be a classic and why it has such a cult following. Granted, it IS pretty cool that Orson Scott Card came up with all these technological advances in 1985 and that some of them ended up becoming true. And certainly, Ender's Game has a very neat and compelling premise, one that I was very excited for. But I couldn't help but feel that this book is WAY overrated.

For one, Ender's Game is poorly written and the pacing is very slow. Events at Battle School repeat ad nauseum and for a premise that promised to be riveting and interesting, it sure got tedious fast. In the last few pages we finally see the climax, but the ending struck me as very anti-climactic in the way in which Orson Scott Card chooses to tell it. Furthermore, the characterization was very shallow. Yes, the characters are children, but they're geniuses and act like adults and yet they come across as very two-dimensional.

I had expected to love Ender's Game because it is supposedly Sci Fi 101 and I LOVE modern sci fi, but this one missed the mark for me. To be honest, I can't rule out that I may have been predisposed to dislike Ender's Game because I am no fan of Orson Scott Card's values (made all the more disturbing by the fact that Ender's Game is laced with prepubescent homoerotic undertones - ICK!). So it's possible that I am biased in some way... but I also feel quite strongly that I would have disliked Ender's Game, even if I was unaware of Orson Scott Card's feelings on homosexuality, for the reasons stated above. Feeling very disappointed right now!

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  1. I did enjoy this book although I agree with some of your issues. I liked his spin off series focused on Bean more than this book actually.

  2. Too bad this one was disappointing! I actually haven't read it, but from your review, it doesn't sound like anything special. I know when something is highly hyped, I tend to have higher expectations and am often disappointed.

  3. You have no idea how joyful I am that I've met someone else who doesn't like this book! It's unfortunate, don't get me wrong, but I just could NOT get into it. I actually ended up not even finishing it because it was so incredibly boring. Basically every complaint you had, I had also. I couldn't connect with any of the characters. It felt so off that they were kid geniuses acting like adults yet still having child-like emotional outbursts. I felt like the plot wasn't actually going anywhere and it definitely ended up just being so incredibly boring and uninteresting. I don't understand how this is supposedly a staple in the Sci-Fi world either. Oh well.

    See? Now you know you're not alone!

    Great review!

    All the best ♥︎
    Mackenzie @ Oh, For the Love of Books!

  4. I liked this one but didn't love it. I didn't bother picking the series up either. I just couldn't get over the fact that these where *kid* soldiers. And yeah, his personal view points are a distraction which is why I haven't seen the movie yet.

  5. Maybe it's just a classic because it was inventive for the time, and people just think it's brilliant before reading it. I don't know...sorry you didn't love this one since you do really like sci-fi, but it's not like you're crazy or anything. haha Maybe you're just more aware of the faults!

  6. Thanks for your honesty. Maybe I'll audio this one.

  7. yes! someone feels the same as me! this makes me feel so relieved because I had no idea why everyone seemed to love this book while I just didn't. Granted, I never actually finished it. Every time I picked it up, I just couldn't get into it. Like you said, it was very slow-paced. I might try reading it again eventually or I might not. I'm sorry you didn't enjoy it! Great review, Aylee! :D

  8. It's funny how some highly praised classics fall quite flat isn't it?! I won't mention of few well loved classics that I had similar experiences with here...but I can certainly relate to where you're coming from here. As a fellow sci-fi lover, this one has been on my tbr for ages but reading this now cements my belief that some classics just do not live up to the hype. I wonder if it's because we're used to a different writing style or that they age poorly or what but they can really be letdowns. The way you describe the writing style, poor characterization, and anti-climactic ending makes me want to pull it off my tbr altogether. I definitely won't be picking it up anytime soon. I'm sorry this was such a bust for you though ^^ excellent review ^^ and here's hoping your next read is a winner xxx

  9. I'm sorry you had such a disappointing experience reading this one, Aylee! I read it myself about three years ago and I did enjoy it at the time. I do get where you're coming from. For me, I think, I don't read all too much in the sci fi genre, and the ones I have read are older classics (like this and Dune), so I think maybe my expectations were slightly different? It definitely reads like an older classic, I think.

  10. Is there a movie or something based on this novel, Aylee? I've heard good things about this one but I was never motivated to read it because the synopsis is confusing to me and sci-fi isn't one of my preferred genres. I guess my laziness paid off because if you didn't like it, I'm almost positive that I wouldn't either :)

  11. My housemate had read this series (some of them at least) and she absolutely loves the second one in the series- Speaker for the Dead. She insists it's brilliant and WAY better. In all honesty, I don't think I will ever read this book. I have a hard time with sci fi as it is. You haven't really convinced me go for it either. Maybe I'll just watch the movie!

  12. YOU READ IT WOO! It's a pity you didn't like it, I think we just have different tastes :) I liked the characterization because I didn't take it too seriously and some of it's a gifted kid's wish-fulfilment fantasy (obviously not the later parts). I actually really liked the repetition - it's the same thing I liked in Harry Potter, The Hunger Games - a setting we're used to, with rules - like in music, riffs on the same baseline (I'm taking this too far, aren't I?). Anyway, I'm glad you read it and of course you're still a sci-fi fan!