Ender’s Game (BOOK REVIEW)

There’s a reason Orson Scott Card’s 1985 novel, Ender’s Game, is now considered classic literature; a reason it’s one of the most read SciFi books of all time. And I believe it’s because it’s a product of its time. Albeit a book about a distant future (2195), it remains a book steeped in fear and impending doom at the threat of nuclear warfare. At the time Card wrote the novel, the threat of the Cold War was at its height, and because of this fear inherent in his writing we get a surreal look at a could-be future that would have been.

Ender Wiggin is a ‘third’, the third born to his family and the government allowed them to keep him. Each of his siblings are geniuses. True geniuses. The kind the government needs to use against the upcoming fleet of buggers who are coming back to finish off humanity. They enlist Ender into Battle School to learn how to combat the enemy, to train him to use his ability to command and push his ability to strategize. But in so doing they push him too far, push him in a way that leaves him without friends, or family or a life. Ender Wiggin is a very sad little boy.

Meanwhile his brother and sister, Peter and Valentine, are earthbound, but on a mission to rule the world. They create names for themselves, aliases: Demosthenes and Locke, and through their differing opinions and columns on the “nets” they are capable in time to have extreme weight on international affairs. I loved this aspect of the book, as it shows just how powerful two minds can be, even the minds of teenagers. I enjoy the take on what Card thought the internet would shape up to be. He did have a firm grasp on how forums would begin to grab attention, but it’s a rudimentary vision of what the internet has actually shaped up to be. It’s still fairly interesting though.

I think the only thing that really annoys me with Ender’s Game is the extremely basic form of slang that Card assumes will develop over time. If that’s how English will take shape, I want no part of it. If you haven’t read Ender’s Game, you really need to. This is a short review, as. I’ve read the book before, but just decided to give the audiobook a quick listen. I have yet to see the movie, nor read any of the other books. Unfortunately I’m scared to read the other books, because Ender’s Game had such a great, distinguished feel to it. I’m scared it’ll ruin Ender’s Game for me. Anyone else read any of Card’s extended Enderverse?

27 thoughts on “Ender’s Game (BOOK REVIEW)

  1. I’m a little late to the party, but thought I’d give you my two cents.
    I love Ender’s Game. It was one of the first “real” sci-fi novels I’d ever read. If you still haven’t read any of the other books in the Enderverse, I’d recommend you do. Speaker for the Dead is often considered to be about the same quality as Ender’s Game, but my personal favorite was the conclusion, Children of the Mind.
    The previous posters are right that the books are very different. I often compare it to The Lord of the Rings and The Hobbit. The Hobbit is youth oriented prequel and a more standard adventure, with simpler language and themes. Ender’s Game is like that. The rest of the trilogy is more like Lord of the Rings, it’s much more dense and thought provoking, but loses some of the narrative that makes the prequel so entertaining. They’re both excellent, so it’s mostly a matter of taste.
    The Shadow series is nowhere near as good. The first book, Ender’s Shadow is the best, and book two isn’t bad, but it goes downhill from there. If you’ve only read Ender’s Game, give Ender’s Shadow a try next, then stick with the original series.


    1. I’ve never heard the ender books compared to Tolkien. That’s interesting. And no, haven’t read any of the other books. They are on my want-to-read list.


  2. I have to say I was disappointed. I’m a huge scifi fan…the Dune series in particular. The scenes with Ender held my attention. I liked not only the scifi portion of the training, but also the interactions among the cadets. Having Ender deal well with the bullying was a good addition to the plot.
    The part I didn’t like was the storyline where his siblings became world leaders. I was take by Card’s prediction and description of tablets and internet message boards, but having 2 kids becoming world leaders was very implausible to me – at least in how the story is told. This is the part that left me feeling disappointed and feeling as though it would have been a far better book had he just stuck to Ender.


  3. I read this a long time ago and agree why this is considered to be such a classic. I didn’t enjoy any of the three sequel books but the Shadow series went back to the original story and i found them to be enjoyable.

    I recently watched the movie and weirdly, i thought that the movie suffered for trying to be too close to the books.


  4. First off – I’d consider myself generally hostile to rightwing anything, especially of the religious variety. I don’t agree with the above commenter, though, that Card’s personal politics truly affected Ender’s Game. Honestly, I’ve read a lot of fiction from authors that are dogmatically apolitical that come across far more proto-fascist than Ender’s Game.

    It’s just a good, solid novel. I won’t even get into an argument about whether or not Card (or anyone else you personally protest) cares about the $7-14 you weren’t going to spend on their product anyway.

    I’d be interested to know what you (OP) think, though, about Card’s politics in reference to Alai. While speaking through his own voice, Card espouses the kind of politics that is hateful toward others along lines of sexuality and to varying degrees race and nationality, depending on who you ask. Alai presents a paradox here, because my reading found Alai to be incredibly sympathetic, first of all, not stereotypical or racist, secondly, and possibly struggling with sexual identity depending on how you look at it. I’m too lazy to Google right now, but I wonder if Card has commented on it…


    1. Well. I found that Alai was one of my favorite characters all around. And he was meant to be. In fact, I actually feel that the religious agenda most people affiliate with this work in particular are nullified by his writings therein. He treats each religion he comes across with respect. His mother was a Mormon, his father a Catholic. Both had to denounce their faith by law, but continued practicing in secret. It seems the same for Alai, who whispers “salaam” (or peace) in Ender’s earshot. A beautiful moment in the book, and it took my breath away at the simplicity of the statement the first time I read it.

      Liked by 1 person

      1. For sure. I think what’s happening is that Card is particularly grotesque in his bigotry whenever speaking on political matters outside of his books, and since Ender’s Game is clearly his most popular book people point to it and expect to see the same garbage. It’s unfortunate, but understandable. It’s still very strange to me that he approached these subjects so incredibly differently within the book than he does in his personal life. It was clearly a conscious decision. The question is whether it was one of marketing, or perhaps his politics (d)evolved after writing? Anyway – thanks for your input!


      2. It may just be a change in opinion on his part. It has been over 20 years since the book was released. He may have much more radical opinions now then before.


  5. I just watched Ender’s Game last night & read Speaker for the Dead a couple months ago. I’d agree that the sequel has quite different tone and excitement level than Ender’s Game but it was still a good book. The movie was so-so.


  6. Interestingly enough, it was the Demosthenes and Locke storyline that made this an average read for me; I just don’t see two prepubescent kids, no matter how smart, building up the kind of political power that allows Peter to eventually become Hegemon of America. It felt too random for me, like Card just wanted them to be doing something whiles Ender went up against the aliens.

    Funnily enough, I think the movie guys agreed with me, that entire subplot was cut out. And all the stuff where Card’s stance against women was injected. Other than that, they do a great job of transferring book to movie; one of the best out there.

    The difference between Ender’s Game and Speaker for the Dead is VAST. Like, if you equated Ender’s Game to Twilight in terms of romance, Speaker for the Dead would be Romeo and Juliet by Shakespeare. As far as I care, they’re entirely different genres; Ender’s Game has a distinctly YA vibe to it, whereas Speaker for the Dead is more of drama set in space. I didn’t mind Ender’s Game, but I could barely stomach Speaker for the Dead, and from what I’ve seen of Xenocide so far, it’s very much in the same vein. I’m hoping to enjoy Xenocide more, though, because I’m more prepared for the vast change from Ender’s Game now.


    1. If you’re interested, here are links to my reviews of the first two books, maybe they’ll help you decide if to continue on. I’m not the biggest fan of the series, but at the same time I refuse to let Card’s personal opinions cloud my judgement on his books, which is something almost no one I’ve encountered that likes reviewing books has done.

      Ender’s Game: http://drunkendragonreviews.wordpress.com/2014/02/27/enders-game-by-orson-scott-card/

      Speaker for the Dead: http://drunkendragonreviews.wordpress.com/2014/03/02/speaker-for-the-dead-by-orson-scott-card/


    2. Interesting. I’ve read Ender’s Game twice now and I loved it both times. I can see how Card, with only a rudimentary grasp of how the internet would shape up, could potentially conceive the notion that individual’s opinions over time would be capable of holding sway over the nations consciousness. But it is a little ridiculous. It didn’t bother my enjoyment of the plot however. It does upset me slightly that they cut it from the film however… I guess it just wouldn’t have translated well off the page.


  7. I only gave this book 3 stars… it took a while for me to get into the book… but the ending was great… though its been a while and I honestly can’t remember the slang you’re talking about… maybe I need to check it out again… and I keep wanting to read the next book… but I’ve heard a lot of different opinions… though I guess I will get around to it eventually…


    1. Yeah, I hear you. I don’t know if I’ll love or hate the sequel as it’s such a different story. I’d rather just enjoy the first book then go further and ruin my whole perception on it.


  8. I’ve read all of Card’s Enders Game output and I can highly recommend the next installment Speaker for the Dead. It’s every bit as good as Enders Game and may even be better. It’s a different novel though.

    After that the series becomes a law of diminishing returns. The parallel series that tells the story from Bean’s point of view is interesting but wears out its welcome quickly.


  9. Also, when you read it which version did you read? My book club read EG together and some of us had the older publication which featured an argument between Ender and the other students where one of them calls him a f***ot. They changed it in the later editions, for obvious reasons.

    Re: Card being an outspoken religious conservative; I have a friend who has also boycotted Card’s work for this reason. As you have argued, I think it’s pretty silly to avoid the works of FICTION written by someone who happens to be a religious bigot in his personal life. I bought my copies of his books from a used book store and read with an open mind. Did I think Catholicism existing on a distant planet many years in the future despite the existence of space travel and discovery of numerous alien species was a bit outrageous? I sure did, but take it with a grain of salt. His writing is legendary. Same can be said for C. S. Lewis, and I can’t imagine having deprived myself of Narnia just because it was a thinly-veiled assault on the non-Christian.


      1. Mine has the one where someone’s called a faggot, I got it in a box set of the first 4 books.


  10. I never considered the aspects of the Cold War while reading this…food for thought!

    Only continue reading the series if you’re prepared for a major shift in plot and (somewhat) theme. Because once you start Speaker for the Dead, you’re pretty much obligated to finish. At least I felt that way, and the ending is a little less than satisfying.

    I haven’t read them yet, but I heard Ender’s Shadow series is much better, though it follows the story of Peter, Bean and Petra.


      1. You’re saying that because of a man’s personal opinions in the present, he should be deprived of any achievements or forms of art he creates in the past. That a man should be deprived of livelihood so that he doesn’t get financed “hate speech”. Don’t be ridiculous. If you can’t separate the artist from the art, your opinion is just as bad. Please. I don’t appreciate trolling. Don’t use my blog entries as a way to propagate hatred and further propaganda.


  11. I loved Ender’s Game. The strategy, especially. Also Card basically predicts the invention of the iPad. I read the second book, Speaker for the Dead, and it had none of the magic of the first book. Ender is way older, on a planet where Catholicism is king, trying to find a home for what he discovered at the end of the first novel. It read like a book by another author. While it was interesting in its own way, it didn’t compare to EG.


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