Ender’s Game seems to be incredibly popular now. This book recently turned movie began life as a short story in 1977, it grew into the book it now is and was published in 1985. Author Orson Scott Card is well known in the science fiction genre, and while I haven’t read any of his other series I have devoured the books in the Enderverse and own all but the three, wait make that four most recent releases.
I was introduced to Ender’s Game by a friend around the time that it was listed as the One Read book for our local library. Ender is a young boy, the third child of a family living in a future where having more than two children is near criminal. Ender’s parents are geniuses, though none of their three children believe this, thinking them instead to be total idiots oblivious to what the children do and say. Too bad the kids don’t know what the reader can find out about their parents from the first two stories in Card’s book First Meetings, a set of four short stories including the original Ender’s Game.
Ender was commissioned by the International Fleet, meaning his parents were asked for conceive him, therefore he is afforded privileges few other “thirds” are given such as going to school. We begin the book with Ender having a monitor removed from the back of his neck; the IF has been monitoring him for years as they did with his brother Peter and sister Valentine. When the other students in Ender’s class see that his monitor has been removed they take the opportunity to bully him knowing that no one is watching him any longer. Ring leader Stinson goes down in the fight when Ender decides this is his chance to be sure they leave him alone not just for today but forever. He explains this to Colonel Graff when the IF officer comes to his house to question him.
Ender leaves Earth with Graff to go off to Battle School, in orbit. Children from all over the world have been taken to the space station to learn to fight. They are to become the army that will take down the Formics and alien force known as the buggers. (I have to be honest here when I first read this I had the aliens from Starship Troopers in my head, and I’m almost ashamed to admit I’ve seen that movie, no I’m really not.) At least that’s what the children believe, rather they are there because the International Fleet is seeking someone, a new leader to take the place of Mazer Rackham who won the last Formic War.
Ender moves rapidly, too rapidly by the thoughts of most of the students and many of the staff up through the school until he is in command of his own army. The student armies fight each other in the Battle Room. Command at the school, Graff, seems to be in a hurry to push Ender to his limits, to try to break him or mold him. Fortunately for Ender he inspires loyalty if not necessarily friendship amongst his army or “jeesh.”
I’d love to go on and tell you more but I don’t want to give away the whole book. I will say this, I have not seen the movie yet though I hope to soon as I’ve heard good reviews from friends who have read the book as well. These same friends have also told me that there is a large sub-plot from the book centered around Ender’s siblings Peter and Val, which directly lead into the two sets of sequels yes two sets, that was left out of the movie. So if you’ve seen the movie but not read the book, go pick it up you won’t be disappointed.
Ender’s Game has also been turned into a set of comic books. Those books have been bound into two larger graphic novels the first being Ender’s Game: Battle School. As the title suggests this story is really just Ender’s time in space on the orbiting Battle School. Some small changes have been made and you get less insight into Ender’s thinking throughout the comics but the illustrations were good. I enjoyed this as a companion to the original book.
The second graphic novel is title Ender’s Game: Command School which is somewhat misleading as it picks up where the last one left off while Ender is still at the Battle School. I have to be honest, this bothered me. Why not put all of the Battle School stuff in that graphic novel but then again I’m not a comic book aficionado though I do enjoy reading them. There must have been a reason, and hopefully one beyond having an even number of books in each set. This story does continue though with Ender’s trip to the asteroid Eros where he gets a new teacher: Mazer Rackham. The final battle sequences were really interesting to see through the illustrator/artists eye.
If you know someone who has seen the movie and is not a big reader the graphic novels just might be the way to get them to move on to the series. A gateway perhaps which is always down 😉
An interesting side note, Amy shared this article with me “Ender’s Game” theme strikes nerve with military. I enjoyed reading it and if you’re already a fan of the series you might as well.