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.
I liked Ender’s Game, and I’m surprised that I liked it. Science fiction has never really been my forte. Even science fiction television shows: Deep Space Nine, Star Trek...none of that has ever interested me. I’ve always been more interested in fantasy. So I wasn’t expecting to really like Ender’s Game, which is based on the premise of a hostile alien race creating the need for child military geniuses. But the audiobook was nearing its due date at the library and I’d already renewed it twice, so I decided it was time to pop the discs in and listen to them. I can’t say I was riveted throughout the entire novel, eagerly turning the pages (or in this case, changing the discs), to get to the next sentence. It’s a little slow to start with—you have to be eased into the world and the lives of the characters—but as the story progressed, I became more and more interested in what would happen to Ender; in what would become of this genius child, thrown harshly into an adult world. I liked Ender because he strived so hard to do the right thing and hated when he couldn’t. The fact that he suffered so much when he had to make hard choices was testament of the good person that he was. I also liked Ender’s strength. When others sought to bring him down, he sought to show them otherwise. It was compelling to follow—it made you want to root for the underdog. And even though the world Card presented is different from the world we know, I could relate to Ender as a character. His emotions and his reactions to his situations were very human to me, even when the world he was in, was not. The secondary characters were well-developed, as well, bringing life to the story just as much as the main characters. One of the things I particularly liked was that Card didn't just tell you that the children were smart, he showed you.
As I mentioned before, I listened to this on audio. I’m quite new to audiobooks and the reading of this book surprised me because it was the first audiobook I listened to where there was more than one actor performing the reading. At first, I thought hearing a bunch of different voices would be distracting to the story, but it wasn’t. It actually made it more interesting and all the actors performed their readings well, putting emotion into each of the characters’ voices.
While I’m still unsure whether or not I would like to invest my time in the rest of this series (Ender’s Game stands-alone well enough), this is a book I would definitely recommend—not necessarily as a page-turner, but as a thought-provoking (and emotion-provoking) piece of fiction. I wish I’d read this book when I was younger, because I think it teaches some important lessons about life.