|Floating around weightless looks relaxing.|
Now...this is my first book review, and I'm going to try and not have it turn into a long recap of the book. For those of you unfamiliar, the book is set in Earth's future, where 2 invasions by the insectoid species known as "Buggers" have barely been repelled by the united forces of earth. The earthlings for some reason have decided that the only way to defeat the 3rd invasion is to start producing genetically enhanced children and start training them from about the age of 6 to be fleet admirals. The main protagonist of the book is Andrew "Ender" Wiggin, and we follow his progress as he is chosen to attend the prestigious "Battle School" and train to lead interstellar fleets.
|Warsaw Pact part deaux...this time with more hegemony|
In the beginning of my copy (digitally downloaded to my tablet), Card has a preface where he talks about how Ender's Game came to be, and includes several letters from folks who praise the novel as life changing for them. He also has some scathing remarks for a "guidance counselor for gifted children" who read it and "loathed it". According to Card, "the criticism that left me most flabbergasted was her assertion that my depiction of gifted children was hopelessly unrealistic. They just don't talk like that , she said. They don't think like that." Some of Card's response to that includes "Yet I knew - knew - that this was one of the truest things about Ender's Game. Because never in my entire life did I feel like a child. I felt like a person all along - the same person that I am today."
Well, OK. I read the preface before reading the novel, and that passage stuck with me. And by the end of the book, I found myself agreeing with that guidance counselor. We first meet Ender Wiggin at the age of 6 or so, and he has a run in with the school bully. He ends up defeating the bully, but the rationale he goes through, and why he decides to fight...is decidedly un-six-year-old. I understand it's the future, and he's supposed to be genetically enhanced to be brilliant...but no matter how "smart" you are, you need "wisdom", and that only comes with one thing - experience. So, right from the first chapter, I found myself thinking "maybe that guidance counselor was on to something..."
This is also prevalent in a subplot about Ender's older sister and psychopathic brother, who are as equally gifted as him. They both create fake online personalities and use them these personalities to manipulate world events, including a war between the west and the Warsaw Pact. Again, I understand that these are genetically altered super-children...but their actions could hardly go unnoticed.
|Ask me about "relativity"|
Lastly, the ending of the book fell a little flat for me. There was a not-so-shocking twist involving Ender's final "training". And after that, the last chapter seemed to be a rushed info-dump on everything that happened subsequently.
So, in the end I can't say that I was particularly impressed by Ender's Game. Some of this, no doubt, was due to too much hype. I have a feeling that if I had just picked it up and read it without any of the "OMG, this is the bestest book EVA" comments I had received, I likely would have enjoyed it a bit more. I was still mildly interested enough to look into the sequel books...but it appears there's about a gazillion (technical term) of them, between actual novels and short stories. No thanks, I'll pass. I may sneak in the upcoming movie, though...just to see the battle school scenes....
Now, on to the next book in my queue. In 1990, my freshman year in college, I picked up a nice thick doorstopper of a book called The Eye of the Word by a guy named Robert Jordan, who was best known for writing some Conan (the barbarian, not the TV host) books. 23 years later, and several years after Jordan's death, the 14th and final book in The Wheel of Time saga - A Memory of Light - is finally published. The series has had some ups and downs - books 6 through 10 were mostly mediocre - but I'm looking forward to finding out the final fated of Rand, Matt, Perrin, Egwene and all the rest.