Tuesday, April 10, 2012

Thoughts on Ender's Game by Orson Scott Card.

“Because never in my entire childhood did I feel like a child. I felt like a person all along--the same person that I am today," (from the 1991 introduction to the novel)

This past week I decided to reread Ender's Game by Orson Scott Card in preparation for a unit I am doing with one of my classes (the same class that just finished The Hunger Games). It had been a few years since reading the novel, so I wanted to do a quick reread before reading it once again with my class.

When I was in the eighth grade, heading into ninth grade, I was preparing for my Honors English class. We had some summer reading to complete before the new school year. Everyone had to read My Antonia and The Count of Monte Cristo. We were given a choice on whether to read David Copperfield or Ender's Game. Since the Dickens title looked scary, I chose this title.

I had been reading fantasy for about year at that point and really loved it, so I assumed that Ender's Game and it's science-fiction angle wouldn't be too far off (although, the two genres are pretty different. I still don't understand why they are grouped together in bookstores). I ended up LOVING the book, and it sparked an obsession with science-fiction.

I have always claimed this as a favorite novel. While I was a big reader before reading this title, there was something about this book that sparked an obsession. I was curious to see whether the book would hold up in comparison to all of the heavy classics I have read since starting my blog.

It did. While there were bits and pieces I thought were different than they actually were, I was almost surprised to see the depths of the novel were still there. The book is a great conversation piece, and I am sure my students will have a lot to say about it.

The novel follows the story of Ender Wiggin, a young boy and commissioned Third child of the Wiggin family. In a futuristic world where there are strict regulations to control population, Ender was "ordered" by the government after his older brother and sister failed to meet the requirements for Battle School. The Battle School, run by the International Fleet, is a school for genius children to go and train. All them will spend their childhoods training for war, and almost all of them will end up as commanders by the time they are 16+.

Ender, a super-genius, is thrust into this environment. From the beginning, he is seen as the best hope in the upcoming Third Invasion by the Buggers, a super-advanced alien race that has already attacked twice. Some of the other children love him, others hate him, and the adults manipulate him.

I love this novel. While it certainly has some faults, I think the issues and ideas it brings forward are worthy of conversation. The idea that children are better candidates for military leaders is one that I can't wait to discuss with my class, as well as the manipulation of Ender by the adults in his life. I know that they'll question it as much as I did when I was their age.

There is also a lot of controversy surrounding the book and the author, Orson Scott Card. I don't want to talk too much about it, and no, I won't be sharing it with my students. But it is worth mentioning here so that you can make up your own mind.

What did you think of this one? Any particular scene I should hammer home to my students?


  1. I love Ender's Game. Have you read the Bean series? I think it's called the Shadow saga. I think I prefer it to the Ender series, actually, but I think both series are really well written and interesting. Card's Alvin Maker series and Homecoming Saga are still among my favorite book series. I think Card's social views really come through in Empire; I didn't enjoy that book at all. I haven't been able to read anything he's written since - too scared I won't enjoy it haha.

  2. I love this book and I'm so glad to hear you say it didn't suffer from a reread. It's on my list to reread this year, but like you, it's been a few years for me, so I was nervous about it. This was my first sci-fi style book and it really taught me that every genre has wonderful books. I know about the whole "Card is a jerk" controversy, but it's never been a deterrent for me. Think of all the classics authors who had affairs or owned slaves, etc. It doesn't make those things right, I just don't want to bring the author's personal life into my reading experience.

  3. Loved this book. Loved it more when I listened to it again a few weeks ago. I think it's just so good you have to overlook whatever you might think of the author personally and read it. I know I've had to do that with a number of authors.

  4. I adore this book, and I'm actually considering using it for my Intro to Lit class. Glad to know others love it too!

  5. Haven't read it, although I know it's one of my brother's favorites. I may have read the short story that later became the novel--either that or my brother told me a detailed plot synopsis! I hope to read the novel someday though, as the whole concept is intriguing, and I'm sure, thought provoking.

  6. I remember loving this book, but I don't have the kind of memory that can pull up particular scenes this long after reading it. I should pull it out and suggest it to my daughter.

  7. We read it for my bookclub last month and it was great!