Ender’s Game arrived in my inbox from JB with this note: “Read this now…better than whatever you are currently reading.” Since I was reading Every Day, I can’t agree with that statement, but I can say that once I finished Every Day, I blew through Ender’s Game in just a couple of days and loved it.
Ender’s Game is the first book in what eventually became a quintet about Andrew “Ender” Wiggins, the youngest of three brilliant children, who is chosen for Battle School, an elite military academy that trains young boys and girls to defend Earth against the threat of a species from another planet. Ender is young – only six when he is first sent to Battle School – but according to some shadowy conversations between some military higher-ups the reader is privy to, he’s pretty much humanity’s last great hope. It’s up to the brass to train him to quite literally save the world.
If I had read that summary (and/or not trusted JB’s taste), I would have put this book back down and moved along to another section of the bookshop. Fantasy isn’t my deal, and sci fi even less so, but even though this was largely set in outer space with rockets and zero gravity and all the other trappings of a futuristic story, it was so very human that all of that fell away as I became engrossed in the story of Ender’s destiny.
It’s hard to talk about the story without giving away the ending, and I really don’t want to do that, so I’m going to stop my summary there. The climax and conclusion was so well executed that I truly didn’t see it coming, not even a hint of it. And even though the book is part of a series, it works quite well all on its own.
I know much has been made of Card’s personal politics both here and on Pajiba, and I didn’t connect the dots until after I finished the book. Reading about Card’s beliefs is disappointing, and honestly, quite surprising, given the way his characters are constructed. That said, Ender’s Game is one of the best YA books I’ve ever read, and in a sea of books about vampires and uninspiring characters and poorly written stories with weak and uninteresting protagonists, it’s a stand out.