“Ender’s Game” by Orson Scott Card

“Ender’s Game” by Orson Scott CardEnder's Game by Orson Scott Card
Series: The Ender Quintet #1
Published: 1994 by Tor
Genres: Science Fiction, Young Adult
Pages: 324
Format: Paperback
Source: Purchased
Buy on Amazon
View on Goodreads

When I first read Orson Scott Card many years ago, I was somewhat apathetic toward his work.  It might have been that I read a companion book rather than the main story, or perhaps I was just reading it at the wrong point in my life.  Either way, my opinions about his writing have changed drastically.

For anyone considering reading “Ender’s Game”–read the author’s introduction.  Card has a sense of humor.  He acknowledges on the first page that the majority of readers probably won’t bother to read the introduction anyway, before going into some of his thought processes when writing the book.

“Ender’s Game” is set on a futuristic Earth that is threatened by the Buggers.  In order to prepare for the Third Invasion, genius kids are trained from a young age in tactics and warfare at a specialized Battle School.

The protagonist, Ender Wiggin, leaves his family to begin training at the age of six.  As his training progresses, Ender faces obstacles that none of the other kids have had to deal with, and eventually comes to the realization that he is being trained to become the commander of Earth’s forces for the Third Invasion.  He struggles internally with his own alienation from his peers, and that he is forced to dealing with bullies in a cruel manner out of self-preservation.  Meanwhile, the inevitable conflict with the Buggers is approaching sooner than Ender could have suspected…

My favorite characters were “Locke” and “Demosthenes.”  These were the screennames of Ender’s brother and sister, who hid behind seven proxies in order to achieve political fame on the internet.  The world grows to respect their political opinions without realizing that they’re just a couple of kids.  The anonymity that the internet offers with regards to age was an amazing discovery for me in junior high and high school, and I had some great discussions with people who assumed that I was far older than I was.  The “Locke” and “Demosthenes” scheme was absolutely brilliant, and I loved every minute of it.

One of the biggest complaints that a lot of people have with the book is the fact that the kids are too mature for their age.  I didn’t have a problem with this; I thought that their age made them suitable for the type of tactics that commanding an army against the Buggers required, because it is a lot like playing a complicated video game.  Meanwhile, despite the overall impression of maturity that the kids try to convey, there are a lot of times in the story where their childhood emotions shine through.

I felt at first like the ending was a bit anticlimactic (mostly because I knew what was going to happen from reading Ender’s Shadow), but I hadn’t expected the whole Speaker for the Dead thing, which was mind-blowingly awesome.  I couldn’t think of a better way that the novel could have ended, and it made me think that there’s a lot more to Card than I originally gave him credit for.

Rumor has it that there’s supposed to be a movie version of “Ender’s Game” coming out in 2013.  I’m a bit skeptical as to how it would play out in a movie format, but I do know that the book is excellent.  I’d highly recommend it for anyone who enjoys science fiction or is just looking for a good read!


I read this book as part of The 2012 Science Fiction Experience hosted by Stainless Steel Droppings and the Speculative Fiction Challenge hosted by Baffled Books.  “Ender’s Game” was a dual-winner of the Hugo and Nebula Awards, which is quite an achievement, and as so I am also including it in the Award Winning Books Reading Challenge hosted by Gathering Books.

29 thoughts on ““Ender’s Game” by Orson Scott Card

  1. I have to confess that I haven’t read much Sci-fi lately, I did buy Paolo Bacigalupi’s Shipbreakre which I think also won the Nebula or the Hugo Award, so I am looking forward to catching up on my reading in this genre. I am glad that you have brought me to this book and introduced me to Ender’s Game. I like books that feature and highlight genius/smart/talented children characters. My TBR stack is indeed growing because of the challenge. 🙂

    1. Hugo and Nebula winning books tend to be very good as a whole; I haven’t read that much sci-fi in general before this year, so I tend to look at the award winners for ideas when trying to decide what to read next in the genre. I’m enjoying this challenge a lot so far. 😀

  2. I was hoping to read this book for The 2012 Sci Fi Experience but I was trying to get it from the library and they didn’t have a copy! I’ve heard good things about this so I’m still going to try and pick it up. Good review. Thanks.
    Lynn 😀

    1. You’re welcome. I’d definitely recommend reading it if you can track it down. It’s always frustrating when I want to read something specific and the library doesn’t have it…

  3. Ender’s Game is magnificent and I’ve loved all the Ender novels since I was in high school. I can read them over and over and never get tired. Card’s other stuff – not so much!

  4. I have Ender’s Shadow, but I haven’t read it yet. I did really enjoy this book though.

    If you haven’t read the sequels to this book yet, I really highly suggest them as well. Speaker for the Dead is the next book, and I thought it was brilliant on about 20 different levels.

    1. I’m very curious about Speaker for the Dead. The speaker for the dead section in the ending of this book was pretty much my favorite part of the novel.

  5. When I read this book I was rather disinterested, but I am thinking it was probably just a timing thing. One of these days I want to go back and try again…

    1. Some books are like that; there are quite a few that I read at the wrong age and appreciate more on a re-read as an adult. I had kind of suspected that would be the case with this one when I decided to pick it up.

  6. this is my favorite book ever. you MUST read Speaker for the Dead, it is mind blowingly awesome in a very different sort of way. i’m so terrified of the movie. it seems like it has a good cast, but they’re making all the kids teenagers, which sucks. it takes a lot away from the story, and is an obvious ploy to attract a youth audience. but we shall see. i’ll try not to be too negative yet, because i’ve wanted this to be a movie for a while now.

    also, to the people that say the kids are too mature: i used to teach at a school for gifted students, and they remind me of these kids A LOT, and consequently, i made many of them read this book, and they loved and connected with it.

    1. I definitely want to read Speaker for the Dead. The lead into it was one of my favorite parts of Ender’s Game, and it would be really cool to see that expanded. I think that making the kids teenagers would defeat a lot of the point of the story, but I can see why they’d decide to do it…

      Oddly enough, one of my responses when reading Ender’s Shadow years ago was thinking that the kids were too immature, especially in the first part of the book. I think that there are a lot of kids out there like the kids in Ender’s Game, people just don’t pay them much attention.

  7. I read this book when I was around fourteen on the recommendation of a friend. I then read all of the sequels directly after that. I really enjoyed the world-building in this book and also the subtle moral implications OSC addresses. Having read basically all of the relevant books at one time (at least, all the ones that were out in 2005), this one was my favorite.

    1. I thought it was so interesting the way that Card was able to create a character who is a killer but at the same time is able to keep him morally clean.

  8. Ender’s Game is such a good book! I seem to pick it up every five years or so, and I get more out of it every time I read it. From the most recent re-read, I still remember something about a handheld video game that Ender had, and how it was connected to something he was dreaming about.

    let’s see, genius children being trained in government run schools. . . I wonder if Joss Whedon was thinking of this when he created the character of River Tam?

    1. I haven’t read any Joss Whedon yet… another thing to add to my list! I thought that the video game aspect of the book was pretty neat, and I liked the way that video games were considered to be a learning tool rather than dismissed as a complete waste of time.

  9. Nice to hear your expanded thoughts on this one. 🙂 It’s definitely a good one for discussion, based on the discussions it keeps generating! I’m also looking forward to reading Speaker for the Dead–got to get that one from the library soon.

  10. I think others have said it, but it bears repeating. You have to read Speaker for the Dead. Ender’s Game was written as set up for that story after Card started it and realized he needed to have a story for Ender. The two books together are just fantastic.

    I think with any book you have to be in the right frame of mind. I think that is especially true with science fiction. I’m glad you enjoyed Ender’s Game. I’m not yet sure if I’m excited about a movie version or not. Movie versions in general are more miss than hit and I cannot imagine the film makers capturing the true horror and the deeper messages of the novel. Hopefully they do and it isn’t just one big action movie.

    I don’t generally get all bent out of shape if kids in stories seem older than their stated age. I want to be told a good story. And I’ve met plenty of intelligent kids in my life so things don’t seem nearly as far-fetched to me as they do to some who get frustrated about that kind of thing.

    1. I’m definitely going to read Speaker for the Dead at some point, although I’m not sure if I’ll end up reading any of the books beyond that one or not. I can’t help but feel bad for Ender, and I thought that the Speaker for the Dead ending was an excellent touch. It reminds me a bit of how we’re questioning whether the end justifies the means in the Foundation novels; in this case, we saw humanity fighting against barbaric-seeming aliens who turned out to be quite different than our first impressions.

      1. I do want to continue on with the series at some point, but after reading Speaker I was pretty emotionally drained and just needed a break from Ender’s world.

        I did also read Card’s small book, A War of Gifts, which was an enjoyable Christmas story. Kind of a rough start with the way one of the characters is treated, but overall well worth reading.

        1. The entire time I was reading even this book I kept thinking “Poor Ender…” Of course, I still think that poor Kaladin had it worse, but Ender still had such a rough life.

Comments make me happy! Please feel free to leave a reply.