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review 2014-01-04 23:00
“Ender’s Game” by Orson Scott Card – audio book- excellent entertainment with an emotional punch
Ender's Game (Ender's Saga, #1) - Orson Scott Card,Stefan Rudnicki,Harlan Ellison

I was twenty when I first read “Ender’s Game” back in 1987. I was completely absorbed in it, turning the pages eagerly to know what would happen next and being shocked, even outraged, when I understood the sustained deceit and betrayal on which the book was based.

 

Thirty-six years later, I decided to listen to the audio book version. It was a delight. The narrators give it the feel of a radio play without missing a word of the original prose.

Perhaps because I knew the ending or perhaps because I am older, this time my attention was caught by the sadness of the book. Ender is almost always alone, almost always being pushed into situations where none of his options are good, and always burdened by the knowledge the choices that he takes change who he is. I was also more sympathetic to the adults who do the terrible things that shape Ender’s fate; knowing that they are terrible, necessary and unforgivable. Ender’s assailed innocence and the compromised integrity of the adults are a lesson it what it means to be “grown up” and why children deserve to have time to be children.

 

The book focuses relentlessly on the violence we are willing to commit and the “sins” we are willing to live with in order to survive. It doesn’t glorify these things but it doesn’t diminish them either. It tackles what it means to be different and how often an inability to communicate turns difference into conflict.

 

At its heart, “Ender’s Game” tells us that all games are real, all choices matter, everything that creates an enemy has a consequence. What makes the book remarkable is that it tackles all this while doing a good job of seeing the world through the eyes of a (very bright) vulnerable, lonely, child who is equally gifted with empathy and ruthlessness.

 

Re-reading the book more than twenty years on adds other points of interest: Card’s imagining of the role of the web, the “desks” the children work on and the concept of war executed by tele-presence are all pleasingly accurate. This time round I was very aware that the ending of the book felt like an add-on to set up “Speaker for the Dead” – which I also read twenty-six years ago.- whereas, on the first read, I saw it as a slightly clumsy effort at redemption. The audio book includes an interview with Card, where he explains that he did indeed rewrite the ending and how that came about. I now find Card’s politics a little thin and unconvincing – too American to be truly global- but I found the way he writes Ender’s sister much more moving than before.

 

The movie will be out soon here in Europe. I don’t have high hopes of it, although I’ll watch it all the same. In my view, the most entertaining and engaging way to experience “Ender’ Game” is to listen to this audio version. I recommend it to you as twelve hours worth spending.

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text 2013-09-24 18:49
A Few Chapters In | Ender's Game
Ender's Game (Ender's Saga, #1) - Orson Scott Card

On the brink of Chapter 7. We were introduced to the games, which means we're moving on from character development and diving quickly into the battlefield. Greg and I are reading this together (it is one of his favourite books) and the last chapter was my turn to read aloud. I cannot help but be underwhelmed by the lack of imagination in Card's prose. The story is clearly a great invention, and the ways in which he described Ender's first experience without gravity had potential. It's reminiscent of the glossy action movies that have tremendous plot and a fine-tuned architect navigating the vibrant story. But, thus far, the prose is lacking. There have been hints at Card's potential, but as it stands everything Ender suffers through is documented quite literally. Perhaps there is just no room for poetry in Battle School. 

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review 2013-08-08 22:59
[Book Review] Ender's Game
Ender's Game - Orson Scott Card

When I first read Ender's Game in my early teens I enjoyed the book, but it was not the earth-shattering read for me that it seems to often be for others.  Some of the finer points of Ender's Game may have also been lost on me, or maybe some of the full ramifications did not really hit me until I was an adult.  Reviewing Ender's World earlier this year rekindled my interest in reading Ender's Game, so I finally got around to doing just that.

These days Ender's Game is a difficult book for me on several levels.  I think it is a brilliant and beautifully written book.  It is a book about leadership, diversity and acceptance, politics, friendship, growing up, or any of a dozen things depending on who you are and where in life you are when you read it.  But I cannot completely separate the book from the author's beliefs and politics, and it is also about the deliberate systematic abuse of a child to save the human race from a perceived threat.

Card's politics baffle me.  I have trouble reconciling such vehement intolerance with the author of a book like Ender's Game, which has incredible depths of tenderness and love in it.  What further confuses me about the whole topic is encountering words of praise by Card on books like Swordspoint by Ellen Kushner, where the central love story is between two men.  Maybe his stances have grown more harsh over the years?

On its own, Ender's Game stands strong.  Card has created characters who are frighteningly intelligent and vulnerable.  The Wiggen children stand out in their self-awareness for ones so young, lending them a maturity far beyond their years, yet their interactions have little reminders of their youth.  The story itself has so many levels of meaning that different readers can relate to.

This next bit is a bit weird for me.  I find Ender and Valentine's relationship disconcerting.  Their love and affection comes across as romantic when it is meant to be familial.  I do not have any close siblings, and by close I don't mean to say I care nothing for my step and half siblings, but whatever connection I have with them in general seems more removed than siblings who grew up together.  I also have trouble closely connecting with people.  However Ender and Valentine have this intensely strong and complicated set of emotions towards each other that to me reads as romantic.  I cannot tell if I simply cannot understand the deep connection between siblings or if the soul-mate bond between Ender and Valentine is beyond normal.

I think that Ender's Game is a good book to have read at least once.  If you do not wish to contribute to the wealth of an author who's politics offend you it should not be difficult to find a copy to borrow or a battered paperback in a used book store.

Source: libromancersapprentice.blogspot.com/2013/08/book-review-enders-game.html
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