Ender's Game, by Orson Scott Card, is a science fiction novel. So I would have probably never read it, except for it being suggested by Becky for the "Something About Me" reading challenge. She had stated that this book started her "love affair with science fiction." So I thought I'd give it a shot. After I had chosen it to read, it turned up on Karlene's list as well.
This book is about a very young, incredibly intelligent boy, Ender, who is taken from his parents and trained to fight in the earth's military organization, the Intergalactic Fleet, known as the IF. He is thought to be the last hope in the war against the buggers, and those in authority use every means possible to turn him into the ruthless commander they think they need him to be.
I enjoyed this book for the most part. It hooked me right at the beginning, and I enjoyed the relationships among the kids at the Battle School. Once Ender left the Battle School, however, it started to drag a bit for me.
What I liked:
I liked how Ender managed to hold on to his humanity throughout his ordeal. He could see the various aspects of his personality and what he liked and didn't like about himself. He didn't like unfairness, and when faced with it, always managed to come out on top.
I liked this quote from a character who is considered a legend in the novel:Humanity does not ask us to be happy. It merely asks us to be brilliant on its behalf. Survival first, then happiness as we can manage it.
I think that the quote rings true not just for this novel, but for real life as well. After all, we all want to be happy, but that won't matter if we're dead.
What I didn't like:
Despite the author's intent to make Ender wise beyond his years intellectually, but still a little boy emotionally, even emotionally Ender seemed too old. Even as a 6-year-old, he was able to control his emotions. And then as a adolescent he was extremely adept at it. Well, I have a adolescent, and an unusually bright one, and controlling emotions is not a strong suit in children of that age. I also have a wise-beyond-her-years 6-year-old, who does try to control her emotions, but she pretty much sucks at it.
I think there was no need for Ender to be so young. He could have started at 11 or 12, while other kids started around 14 or so. The story would have been just as good, and the main character more believable.
Overall, I enjoyed the book. I am not, however, chomping at the bit to find out what happens to Ender (or the little bundle he found at the end of the book), like I am with Harry Potter. If I stumble across the rest of the Ender books, I'll probably read them, but I don't feel compelled to actively seek them out. So I guess I'm not starting a love affair with science fiction, but I will be more open to science fiction suggestions from others than I have been in the past.
So, what does this book tell me about Becky and Karlene? Well, Karlene wants to someday "write a story this compelling," so I guess she is either a writer or an aspiring writer. And Becky's love affair with science fiction and particularly Orson Scott Card started here, so the book obviously made quite an impression on her. I think she must have really empathized (as did I) with Ender. We all often feel at the mercy of those in authority, and so a book about a child who, in an adult world, ultimately holds all the power really resonates.