Friday 26 October 2012

Dark Review - Enders Game by Orson Scott Card

Dark Review Image

Review of the book Enders Game

By Casey Douglass

I recently finished reading Enders Game by Orson Scott Card, and I have to say I was very impressed by it. It follows the story of Ender Wiggin, a child born into red tape from day one, a future where population control is rife and only with special dispensation can you have more than two children. Ender is a ‘third’ and if it wasn’t for the military’s interest in him and his hoped for genius, he probably wouldn’t even exist. The earth is under threat from the ‘buggers’, an alien race that has already attacked previously, and it is felt that Ender should have the talent and skills to lead humanity to victory and safety.
He is taken away to Battle School when he is six years old and is introduced to ‘The Game’ which is a zero gravity battleground around which he and the other children (ranging in age from six to early double figures) do battle, using special lasers that freeze the targets battle-suit, either partially or fully, taking them out of the game. It is a way to teach the kids command, tactics and other skills that are useful in preparing them for war, and separating the chaff. Of course, things are not that simple for Ender, he has to be given every opportunity to shine, and so they attempt to grind him into dust by always stacking things against him. More, you will have to read for yourself.

Orson has a way of writing that is very easy to read, and yet still conveys layers of meaning. Ender is a very likeable character, brilliant but unsure, capable of violence but enshrouded in guilt whenever it occurs, even if it was in his own self defense. It is interesting to see how they attempt to break Ender down, and even more exciting to see how he proves time and again that he is truly exceptional. They even use promotion of rank against him, to unsettle him just when he is getting his feet more firmly on the ground.

The story has a nice pace to it and while you couldn’t accuse it of being quick paced, it’s no slouch. There are some nice twists to it and the ending hits you with a few surprises in a short space of time, but it is done in such a way that it just seems right and in keeping with the whole story. It is also one of those rare stories that doesn’t expect you to believe life and morals are black and white, and there is moral ambiguity and shades of grey to many pivotal scenes in the story, which I liked very much.

It isn’t often that I read flat out sci-fi, I am more a fantasy/horror chap, but this was good. I immediately picked up the next two books in trilogy and am just hoping that they will be up to the same standard.

The only thing I struggled with in the book was the mental image of the bugs from the starship troopers film, whenever the buggers were mentioned. While not eithers fault, it was hard to shake, even though the buggers in Enders Game had their own advanced technology and spacecraft.

A solid 10 out of 10 book for me, if I absolutely had to rate it.