Ender’s Game – Orson Scott Card

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Hello, fellow readers! It’s been a crazy few weeks, ending with two midterms yesterday, two next Wednesday, and one Thursday. But I have so many books to write about, I’m taking a study break just for you!

Since we last spoke, I learned that the Mortal Instruments series will have another book. So I’m not as angry about it any more. Still a little angry. But much less. So there’s that.

And cue talking about Ender’s Game with no transition. Ready? Go!

I’ve wanted to read Ender’s Game for a while but it was pretty far down on my reading list. However, it got bumped up because I was going to the movie with a friend and I wanted to read the book before seeing the movie. Which of course didn’t happen because I ran out of time. But I read the book after, and I loved it. This story is phenomenal. It touches on so many themes; self control, fear of the unknown, fear of your self, bullying, prejudice, family structure, tolerance, and child soldiers. Ender was one of the most heartbreaking characters I have ever lived through. For those who don’t understand what I mean, well, you may not be a full book nerd. I’ll explain. When I read, I live through the character. Their life is my life, their pain is my pain, their joy is my joy, their love is my love. This goes on from the first word I read until anywhere from the last word I read to months after I finish the book. The best example of this is my PPS, or Post Potter Syndrome. I was going to call it PPD, or Post Potter Depression, but that seems to demean depression, so syndrome it is. Anyway, it took me a long time to recover from the end of Harry Potter, because I was so invested. And I got really invested in Ender’s Game as well.

The trials Ender goes through are so intense, so hard for such a young kid. There is so much expected of him, right from birth. His parents got special approval to have a third child in order to have a young genius who would have the potential to save the world. His brother tortures him, his parents do nothing to help or show any affection. The only bright spot in his family is his sister, Violet. Violet was one of my favourite characters, and I loved the choice of Abigail Breslin to play her in the movie. She is such an empathetic character, and even though she allows Graff to use her for his purposes and bring Ender back to the academy, she does it because she knows it is where he needs to be. Ender is needed, but more than that he needs to finish his training. That may seem like a strange thing to say, when the academy is essentially destroying him from the inside out. The process may be teaching him how to be manipulative, deceitful, and aggressive, but it is also teaching him how to be an effective leader and teacher. He is learning to stand up for himself, to make friends, to be a better human. And most important, he is learning how to control the fear that has consumed him his whole life, how to deal with self doubt. And although the process may threaten to destroy him, the anger may threaten to consume him, he pushes through and comes out stronger. Although he may seem defeated after the enemy is defeated, he recovers with the help of his friends and his sister. Ender’s future is one of my favourite parts of the story. The way he uses the hardship and anger he felt and expresses it through empathy for the enemy he has just destroyed.

“In the moment when I truly understand my enemy, understand him well enough to defeat him, then in that very moment I also love him. I think it’s impossible to really understand somebody, what they want, what they believe, and not love them the way they love themselves. And then, in that very moment when I love them…. I destroy them.” This is one of my favourite quotes because it is part of what makes Ender so phenomenal at what he does, it is why he is capable at securing victory for Earth. But this is also what allows Ender to save his enemy’s only hope for a future. He loves his enemy, and he understands they are no longer his enemy. “I think it’s impossible to really understand somebody, what they want, what they believe, and not love them the way they love themselves.” At some point I really hope I can understand someone as well as Ender understands people. His empathy levels are off the charts.

Ender faces several minor villians in his story. I say minor because the major villian would be the alien race he is trying to defeat in order to save the planet, but they aren’t so minor in the scope of the threat they present. Specifically Bonzo, he is able, willing, and determined to teach Ender a lesson. And,if given the opportunity, Bonzo would kill him. So Ender has to react, he kills Bonzo by accident in self defence. However, in defending himself, he also almost destroys himself. The violence released in his fight with Bonzo releases a terror inside of Ender. Fear of himself. And of the impact he is capable of having on the people and things around him, as well as the destruction he could cause. The pressure and stress of training to be a top soldier as a young child has finally taken its toll. While this may sound macabre, I love child soldiers stories. Not for the gore or the psychological effect, but for the impact these children are capable of having on the world. For example, Ishmael Beah, the author of A Long Way Gone, was a child soldier in Africa (I don’t remember the exact country), and is now an advocate for child soldiers and other suffering children. He has had a huge impact in the lives of children being abused by armies around the world.

The last point I wanted to mention was the themes of prejudice and fear of the unknown. The whole war on the alien species started because the two races couldn’t communicate with each other. The aliens were looking for a place to create a new colony, and the humans were trying to protect Earth. The humans are preparing to go on the offensive, and are looking for a leader. They choose Ender. All of human society has been trained for so many years to hate the aliens, the “buggers”, that they forget the aliens are “people” too. The humans don’t understand their societal structure, the way their communication works, or the way their weapons work. All they know is that the aliens are threatening Earth. But are they really? Will the aliens really attack again? Or are the leaders of Earth using the fear of the unknown and the prejudices people have been brought up to hold against the aliens as a way to control society? I really enjoyed this story angle and the implications they have for the society we are living in.

One last quote: “There are times when the world is rearranging itself, and at times like that, the right words can change the world.”  Now, I know it was Ender’s crazy, manipulative brother Peter who said this, and I know he is using this idea to convince Violet into faking an identity and taking part in Peter’s scheme to take over the world, basically. But in a different context it has the potential to be quite inspiring.

I thoroughly enjoyed Ender’s Game. If you are looking for a modern classic, I would suggest reading it. I’m definitely looking forward to the rest of The Ender Quintet, as well as Card’s other works. That’s all for now, off to bed!

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