Ender's Game ~ Review

21 March 2013

It’s the future.

The humans have finally achieved fitting means to travel through space. This physical realization, led to another rational one – the fact that we are not alone. An alien species called the Formics, and dubbed “buggers”, owing to their insect-like manifestation, are our inter-galactic neighbors. The Formics assault and the two races enter into two full-scale wars, with the humans barely holding out in each. In preparation for the third war, the International Fleet creates a Battle School, a program tailored to find the most brilliant children and to train them to end the Formic threat that kept plaguing humanity. And in comes Ender Wiggins.

This is basically how Ender’s Game a 1985 novel, by Orson Scott Card is set up.

Ender is the third child in the Wiggin family. Barely 6 years old, he is considered as an anomaly under Earth’s two child policy. He and his amicable sister Valentine share a malicious and manipulative brother, Peter. After his chances of getting into the Command School become almost close to naught, a chance incident where the smaller Ender fatally wounds a fellow student brings him to the attention of the Commander of the International Fleet, Hyrum Graff. On hearing him explain his actions, that by showing superiority now, he will have prevented further fights in the future, the Commander is impressed and offers Ender a place in the Battle School. At the Battle School, Ender is trained to fight the Formics through a series of simulation games. Ender impresses the staff and the cadets by using strategies never seen before and tackles every scenario thrown at him. What happens to Ender then?

The author’s prose is of the clear, crisp and clean-cut sort. He doesn’t draw attention to himself as the author; instead, he steps aside and focuses on enveloping the reader in Ender’s world and quite visibly succeeds. He achieves the perfect balance in the portrayal of Ender where he poises innocence on par with bravado.

"I don't care if I pass your test, I don't care if I follow your rules. If you can cheat, so can I. I won't let you beat me unfairly - I'll beat you unfairly first." ~ Ender

Sharp dialogue. Tremendous characterization. Perfect pacing. An out of this world setting, literally. This book is perfect.

A parallel story line follows Peter Wiggin’s venture to control Earth. Though it feels unnecessary, it sets up the story for the sequel.

You may argue, and you are entitled to, that it’s a pretty clichéd scenario – a lone hero changes the tide of the battle, and perhaps wins it? But no clichéd novel has ever won these many accolades, notably the Hugo and Nebula awards, and a cult fan following.

And the incredible twist in the end alone makes this book an awesome read.

Will Ender save the Humans? Or will he ever get to fight the Formics for real in the first place?

Well, read it! Read it for its unpredictability. Savor it for its beautiful layering. Cherish it for its characterization. Treasure it for its uncompromised take on human emotions. Love it. Cause you can’t hate it.

Ender’s Game – As real as any game can get.

P.S. Ender’s Game is being adapted into a movie, set for a winter release.

Here's a link to my original article on Guindy Times.