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[Book Review] Ender’s Game (1985) by Orson Scott Card

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Plot Summary: Set in Earth's future, the novel presents an imperilled mankind that has barely survived two conflicts with the Formics or "Buggers", an insectoid alien species. In preparation for an anticipated third invasion, an international fleet maintains a school to find and train future fleet commanders. The world's most talented children, including the novel's protagonist, Ender Wiggin, are taken at a very young age to a training center known as the Battle School. There, teachers train them in the arts of war through increasingly difficult games including ones undertaken in zero gravity in the Battle Room, where Ender's tactical genius is revealed.

Author: Orson Scott Card

Publisher: Tor Books

Genre: Science Fiction

Review: by Lee

With the movie release just around the corner, I thought it was finally time to read Ender's Game.  Someone might wonder why I am even writing a review of a book that has been out for so long, but there will definitely be new potential readers like myself, summoned by the call of the feature film, wanting to arm themselves with its contents so they can be either dazzled or disappointed by the quality of the adaptation.  Thus, a review seemed in order.

What I Liked:

To say that the story is interesting is a vast understatement.  Though it may start out a bit slow, after a few chapters, it is absolutely riveting.  The fast-moving plot, the incredible circumstance, and the dynamic characters come together to make it nearly impossible to put the book down.  Ender himself is easily the most fascinating character, but it is actually the view of him held by other characters rather than his own narrations that make him so.  The characters are quite complex, which is uncommon when speaking of novels about children, and it was a very welcome change.

Oh, the lies and deceit!!!  The drama, as it unfolds, is intense.  Witnessing poor Ender be used and manipulated, even consciously, is one of the most captivating features of the book, addressing the age old question of whether the ends really do justify the means.  By the end of the novel, the reader mourns for Ender and the type of life a child like him should have had.  Largely, the book raises many controversial social issues, leaving the reader with much to contemplate, but it doesn’t do it in a way that is too heavy-handed or preachy, which I certainly appreciate.

The games themselves are action-packed and really drive the plot.  They were by all means the absolute best thing about the novel.  I don’t want to give anything away, but my goodness!

The ending is really done well.  It gives just enough closure to give the reader peace but leaves enough ambiguity to stir the reader’s creativity.  It makes you wonder what will happen to different characters but not in a way that makes you angry.

What I Didn’t Like:

I realize now, after reading, why the ending is so good.  It gears up for sequels.  I think Ender’s Game is great as a stand-alone novel.  I’m not sure I like the idea of having certainty of what happens afterward.  It certainly risks overdoing things and becoming overworked.  Besides, the greatest part of Ender’s Game was Ender’s game!  Without the fate of the world resting on his shoulders and the excitement of the academy games, I’m not sure I see the appeal of sequels.

The beginning of each chapter features a conversation between ranking officers who are in charge of Ender’s fate.  Each of these sections is pure dialogue.  I hate pure dialogue because it is often very difficult to follow without any indication of who is actually speaking at a given moment.  I find it very frustrating and unpleasant, and I think the book would have been better off if Orson Scott Card had done as little as putting it in script format to distinguish one voice from another.


Ender’s Game is an interesting and exciting novel.   It has made me even more excited for the film, and I now understand and am pleased by the casting choices.  I think both the novel and the movie will appeal to a very large audience.

Rating: 4/5 stars

You can purchase Ender’s Game from Amazon here:

The book is being made into a feature film. You can watch the trailer below.

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