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Ender’s Game by Orson Scott Card

book review

They say that the art of war is simple enough. Find out where your enemy is. Get at him as soon as you can. Strike at him as hard as you can, and keep moving on. Ulysses S. Grant should have met Ender Wiggin; might have learned a thing or two about the heart wrenching cost of such simplicity.

Plot Summary

Ender’s Game plunges us into a not-so-distant future where Earth has already suffered two invasions from an alien race known as the Formics, or more colloquially, the “Buggers”. To counter this existential threat, humanity has resorted to a desperate measure: breeding and training child prodigies into military commanders, a sort of morbidly precocious Spartans for the space age. The hero of the hour is Andrew “Ender” Wiggin, a mere boy tasked with the burden of humanity’s survival.

Book Review

The military science fiction genre has rarely seen an exploration of the ethics of warfare quite like Ender’s Game. Underneath the outer layer of alien invasions and futuristic battles is a sensitive examination of the human cost of war, the cruel calculus of sacrifice, and the moral ambiguities that suffuse any conflict.

Card’s Ender is a compellingly drawn character, an avatar of innocence forced to navigate the brutal world of military strategy. He is a child in a man’s world, his innate empathy and humanity constantly at odds with the ruthless demands of his training. The psychological tension wrought by this internal struggle makes for an engrossing read.

The plot, though firmly rooted in the sci-fi tradition of space warfare and alien civilizations, is overshadowed by the moral and psychological aspects of the story. It’s a rare feat in genre fiction, a complex portrayal of the ethical dilemmas that underline the grand narrative of good versus evil.

My Rating: 4.5/5

Author Bio

Orson Scott Card is an American novelist, critic, public speaker, essayist, and columnist. He writes in several genres but is known best for his science fiction. His novel “Ender’s Game” and its sequel “Speaker for the Dead” both won Hugo and Nebula Awards, making Card the only author to win both of science fiction’s top prizes in consecutive years.

FAQs or Book Club Questions

  1. How does the setting of the Battle School contribute to the overall theme of the book?
  2. Is Ender a victim, a hero, or something else?
  3. How does Ender’s Game explore the idea of the “other”?
  4. How does Ender’s relationship with his siblings, Peter and Valentine, affect his development as a character?
  5. How does Card explore the theme of manipulation and control in the novel?
  6. Do you agree with the military’s decision to recruit and train children? Why or why not?
  7. How does the novel explore the concept of empathy in the midst of warfare?
  8. What are the implications of the ending of the novel, and how does it influence your understanding of Ender’s character?

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About the Movie

Released in 2013 and directed by Gavin Hood, Ender’s Game made its cinematic debut with a bang. Asa Butterfield starred as the titular character, Ender Wiggin, while the supporting cast boasted big names such as Harrison Ford, Hailee Steinfeld, and Ben Kingsley.

Translating the moral complexity and psychological depth of the novel to the silver screen was always going to be a formidable task, and opinions vary on whether the film succeeded. The film does justice to the novel’s grand-scale interstellar battles, rendering them in breathtaking CGI that brings the intensity and drama of the Battle School to life.

However, some critics and fans of the book argue that the film’s faster pace doesn’t allow for the same depth of character development, particularly regarding Ender’s internal struggles. Despite this, Butterfield’s performance as Ender Wiggin is commendable, effectively conveying the character’s prodigious intellect and vulnerable humanity.

Overall, while the film may not delve as deeply into the novel’s more profound themes, it offers a visually captivating interpretation of Card’s universe. If you’re a fan of the book, it’s worth watching for the spectacle and to form your own opinion on this adaptation of a classic piece of science fiction literature.

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