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Jan 20

Ender’s Game (Orson Scott Card)

Ender’s Game is one of those books that sits on the shelf of the library looking at you as you check out other books. You see it, but it looks kind of old, so you go for the newer, shinier books right next to it. And you know you should read it… people keep telling you to read it… but you just never get to it. Then, one day, you read a review for a sequel and finally that curiosity is piqued. So you pick it up, and as you had thought it would be, it’s excellent. And you wonder why you waited so long to pick it up in the first place. Procrastination, man. Procrastination is bad.

So what is this fabled book? you might ask. Well, it is about this little boy named Ender Wiggin, a child genius who is taken from his home to be trained alongside others, to become a future military leader in the fight against an alien race. It follows his life and how the world screwed him up to make him the “best of the best.” It also parallels the leaders who messed him up, and his siblings in their grab for world domination.

So I suppose the next question will be, “So why is it so good?” (God, how many questions are you going to ask me? Gab, gab, gab! Let me do the review already!) Well, there is the obvious straightforward style for one. Orson Scott Card has a Master’s in Literature. Like all students, he understands why it’s so annoying to have to worry about symbolism, foreshadowing, and layers upon layers of meaning that no one but English teachers ever get. So he made it without all that stuff. Yes, this novel has no symbolism. Do you know how happy I was to find a novel, much less a novel considered a modern classic, like that? I was so happy I almost… er, did something extremely joyful-looking. But then I sat down. The people on the bus were staring.

Secondly, it’s the straightforwardness of the story that grabs at your heart and wrenches it to and fro. The story could be construed as an international policy of child abuse to save the world, and the children are so real and unreal that it’s scary. I won’t give away the end — really, would I do that? — but I think it was the ending, the misperceptions playing out to their almost inevitable conclusion, that made it really bittersweet. It made me sigh. And think. And sigh again. I was happy for Ender at the end, but sad at the things he went through. I also like how Card left the ending open for things to come.

The last reason to love this book is that Ender is all of us. He is a genius that is consistently reviled by his peers, pushed around and made into a puppet. I know that’s how I felt for most of my childhood, and I know I’m not the only one. So, although this book has more than one theme, it is easy to see that Ender’s Game acts a commentary of the way children and adults alike act within society, even today. This timelessness is also another characteristic of a classic.

So, in essence, stop procrastinating and read the book! (Uh, y’know. If you want.)

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