Ender’s Game – Book Review

EndersGameCoverThe reason the Hunger Games was interesting to me were solely due to the tactics Katniss used to stay alive, Well, guess what? Ender Wiggins just pretty much kick this Katniss chick’s butt. Ender almost reminded me of Alexander the Great or Napoleon and I LOVED IT.

Ender (Andrew) Wiggins was a breath of fresh air from the strong heroine of YA literature. Being a 6 year old at the beginning of the novel, I was completely caught off guard by his maturity and how sneaky he was.

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The novel asks an important question: What does it take to successfully lead men into battle?

Once upon a time, there was a tiny 6-year old boy who all the other kids picked on. Little did they know that he was very special and all the adults secretly loved him even though they didn’t stop anyone from picking on him, and also he knew karate and he didn’t want to hurt them but he would if he had to, and it just so happens that he has to. Often. Also he spoke and thought not like a 6-year old boy but as a smug 30-year old man with a fair amount of unresolved bitterness toward his childhood.

I really wanted to like the book. The basic outline of the story is fine and even appealing to me: kids being trained with video games from an early age to join a war effort. But the writing was, at times, excruciating. To be fair, had I read it when I was a (fairly average, I’m sure) 12-year old, I probably would have found it more enjoyable. But as an (average, again) adult, I found it to be about 100 pages too long and filled with long passages during which I developed a loathing of the main character at precisely the moment when the author clearly wanted me to admire his cleverness, strength of character, and bold moral wrestling. “Ooh, how deftly he wins the admiration of his peers by suggesting that bully is gay! Aah, the psychological pain he endures at being the best at strategy and physical combat! Oh, the bravery of joking with the black boy about how he’s a n****r! Oh why can’t he find a teacher who can teach him something he doesn’t already know!”
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I was also continuously distracted by sentences like, “They pushed his face backward into the door.” What does that mean? If they’re pushing his face backward, does that mean his head hit the door? His face can’t hit the door if it’s not facing it.

Anyway. The final act started off well enough and brought everything to a satisfactory conclusion, and then the book continued on for another 25 pages that should be considered by nerds to be as unconscionable as the final episode of Battlestar Gallactica, where all reason and logic are dispensed with in favor of some weird fantasy that pretends to wrap up everything in a nice and neat bow.

As successful as Ender is, you discover that he’s ultimately a pawn in the larger game being played and controlled by the I.F.. It’s weird because you find yourself sympathizing with him and cheering him on despite him being a pawn.

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The political and philosophical focus of the end section of the novel may not appeal to everyone.

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