Ender’s Game is a fascinating book.
It’s not often I find a book I really have to think about reading, normally I can skim through them and still understand them, I don’t need to put effort into understanding them. But Ender’s Game you have to genuinely put effort into reading, into understanding.
I think it’s the fact that most dystopian books, or books set in a different world or time, are explained at the beginning. The world is set up for you, thoroughly explained, and shown to you. The rules of the society lain out for you, so you don’t have to do much processing, and can get straight into the story. But with Ender’s game he just goes straight into the story. Jumping straight into this new world that you’ve never had any experience of.
The world itself is so interesting, the way their society works, especially from Ender’s point of view. This highly intelligent small child, who knows more about his society at the age of six than most of us will know in our whole lifetimes. He understands how people work, and he uses his understanding to manipulate them.
Ender isn’t a likeable person, he’s not the kind of character you fall in love with. He’s not pretty, he’s not beautifully broken, he’s not the kind of disaster people are drawn to. He’s the kind of dark that’s intriguing, he’s interesting. He’s written with dark humour and sarcasm.
Although all of the characters are complicated and interesting, far from being the cardboard cut outs of people a lot of books have, Ender was always my favourite. I connected with him in some strange way, he’s more human than most characters, so flawed, that, in a way, he is perfect.
The book spans ten years of his life, he’s taken away from his family at the age of six, put somewhere with other exceptional small children. He is the youngest, the smartest, the best. And they know that from the start.
He is ruthless in the way he looks at the world, so that is the way the reader views the world also.
“Knocking him down won the first fight. I wanted to win all the next ones, too. So they’d leave me alone.”
The writing is beautiful, I went back and looked at quotes specifically for this and was drawn straight back into the book. The wording of it is just amazing, it makes all the points of the book really hit home, and really effect you.
It’s odd watching someone grow up as you watch Ender throughout this book, it’s why it didn’t really work when they made it into a film. It spans ten years of his life, and you simply cannot fit that into two hours. It was never going to work.
But that’s what makes the book so enthralling, his whole life is spent in these training centres, being taught how to fight wars, how to command troops, doing things no child should ever have to do. But these children never really were children in the first place.
“I’ve got a pretty good idea what children are, and we’re not children. Children can lose sometimes, and nobody cares. Children aren’t in armies, they aren’t COMMANDERS, they don’t rule over forty other kids, it’s more than anybody can take and not get crazy.”
When asked what books have affected me, what books have stayed with me, Ender’s Game is probably top of the list. The terrible, horrifying wrongness of the things they do, the things the adults let the children do, make you look at the world differently.
It gives a whole new perspective of the rights and wrongs of the world.
I shan’t spoil it for you, but the very end, the very last battle they face, has the most complicated ethics behind it. The way they justify what they’ve done, and what they’re doing, is horrible, but true. And I think that’s what really sticks with you. It’s the fact that, in that situation, would you be any better?
It’s one of those books you can reference to make your point, to validate what you’re saying. Because there’s so many points in it, so many things to think about. It sticks in your mind, the things they say.
I guess like any book it has it’s problems, one of the biggest problems people face isn’t so much with the book, as the person who wrote it.
Truthfully, he is not a very nice person, although I suppose he’d disagree on that point. But that doesn’t change the value of the book. None of the things people criticise him for come through in his writing, and I don’t see why you should stop yourself from enjoying something purely because you don’t want someone else to gain from it also.
So, in conclusion, although the author isn’t particularly nice, the book doesn’t portray that. And it still well worth the read, and will stay with you for a very long time. The problems the children face are interesting, and important. The writing is striking, and the characters are fascinating.
“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.”