Last week, I read Ender’s Game. This was mainly because it was recommended over on The Broke and The Bookish. I had never heard of it until the Harrison Ford film came out and to be honest it didn’t really look that inspiring. However, the enthusiasm on the blog was infectious, plus the cost was minimal on Kindle so I thought why not?
I really need to stop being seduced by low Kindle prices. Unfortunately, Ender’s Game is not the book to support that theory, because I utterly loved it.
Every so often, I come across a book that grabs me and drags me along. Gone Girl, The Cuckoo’s Calling, and One Day are all great examples of this, and so is Ender’s Game. The story centres around a young very bright boy named Ender. The world is similar to Starship Troopers (indeed, I do wonder if Ender’s Game inspired Starship Troopers); there has been a massive intergalactic war with insect-based life forms, and the fight goes on. In Ender’s Game, the fighting ended many years ago but the powers that be continue to recruit and train soldiers for the day that the ‘buggers’ come back again. However, the soldiers they are training are children.
When we first meet Ender, he has been monitored for a few years by said powers, looking to see if he has what it takes to be trained. It turns out that not only does he have what it takes, he has the potential to be the greatest military leader ever. The training takes place in classes and games and it is the games that form the bulk of the book. We follow Ender as he progresses through his training and struggles with his potential, making friends and enemies along the way.
A big part of what makes this story so successful is the character of Ender. He is so young – six at the start – and although he is very intelligent the strain of expectation is evident. His commanders go to great lengths to push him, and one of the ways they do that is by isolating him from the other children. Ender’s reactions to that – and to some of the things that he has to do – are very moving. It is easy to forget how young he is whilst he is strategizing and rationalising his lot, so the moments when he breaks are all the more powerful.
Apparently there are more books, which a friend will be lending me. I am excited and intrigued by this prospect. The end of the book doesn’t make it clear that there will be a sequel, so I am really interested to see where it goes. I suspect it won’t be quite as compelling, but I am always willing to be proved wrong. I think I will even watch the film. I am keen to see how certain parts of the story are visualised. Plus, I now have something to buy the second adolescent I know (who has become even more teen since I last saw him, despite not yet being twelve!).
What was the last thing you read that you couldn’t put down? I need something great to follow this up!