I first read “Ender’s Game” by Orson Scott Card when I was only in fifth grade or so. My parents got the book for my sister and I for Christmas, and I devoured it in a couple days. I throughly enjoyed it, but not as much as my sister who I’m pretty sure, to this day, remembers every single page of that book.
With the movie coming out soon, and trailers floating around, I decided I needed to reread it.
I’m so glad I did; “Ender’s Game” was even better than I remembered it.
Orson Scott Card’s story-telling is wonderful. He provides just enough detail for the reader to build the world, but then he lets the reader’s imagination complete the picture. Everything, from the battle room to the alien buggers, is left up to you to create in your mind. All you have to go off of is a few lines of rough details, and as a kid that was all I needed to capture my imagination. Plus, the main character is a kid, so I connected to the story because I was also a kid. Of course we were living in completely different worlds, but I loved imagining myself in Battle School, and what life would be like if I lived in that version of the universe.
But rereading it now, about thirteen years later, I’m really glad I never went to Battle School. “Ender’s Game” is a much heavier book than I remembered. As a kid I didn’t pick up on the dark political overtones. I didn’t pick up on the subtler questions about morality that Card weaves into his tale. And I really didn’t pick up on how terrible Battle School really was for the kids there. “Ender’s Game” was basically a completely different story for my 23-year-old self than my 10-year-old self. But that just proves what a phenomenal book it is.
There are some books that I remember being good as a kid that I reread and don’t enjoy nearly as much. But “Ender’s Game” has joined the ranks of “Lord of the Rings”, “To Kill a Mockingbird” and other classics as books that I can reread and get something entirely new and different out of every time. It’s an elite club to belong to. Truly great books don’t just engage one audience; they engage multiple audiences and grow with the reader. Great books can be read at various points in one’s life and become almost completely different stories because of the reader’s different perspectives. It’s a unique quality for a book to have, and “Ender’s Game” is one of the best examples that I’ve come across lately.
But “Ender’s Game” is only the first in Card’s original Ender Quartet. He has several books set in Ender’s universe, but the Ender Quartet is where it all started. After “Ender’s Game” are “Speaker for the Dead”, “Xenocide” and “Children of the Mind”. I tried to read “Speaker for the Dead” as a kid, but I couldn’t get into it. But right after rereading “Ender’s Game” I decided to give it another try, too. I read it in two days, and I couldn’t put it down. I didn’t stop there, either; I had to force myself to put down “Xenocide” to write this post. Out of them “Ender’s Game” is still my favorite, so far. But the theme of the books — acceptance and understanding of other people/ aliens instead of letting xenophobia rule — is much more apparent it the sequels.
“Ender’s Game” tells the story of the first xenocide, a term Card uses to describe the destruction of an entire alien race, from Ender’s perspective. There are other perspectives in the book — Ender’s siblings and the officers of the International Fleet — but it is definitely a story about Ender with the other stories as secondary story lines. It’s those plots, though, that become important in the sequels. I can’t elaborate much more beyond that without spoiling things from “Ender’s Game”, but Card’s books have definitely made me think about xenophobia’s effects on society. (Not really something I picked up on as a kid, though.)
Rereading “Ender’s Game” also got me very excited for the movie. It will either be really epic, or it will be disappointing. But the source material is so strong, I am holding out hope that the movie will be spectacular. I just hope they include everything…
All for now,
Have you read “Ender’s Game”? What did you think of it. What books have you read became something different when you reread them?