Ender’s Game: A Review.
By Daniel Shultz
It is not often that a book comes along that feels like it drags you out of bed and shoves your head straight into the toilet. I mean that in a good way. Perhaps a different analogy would work better. It is not often that a book comes along that feels like it takes you and throws you naked into a snowstorm. What I mean to say is that this book is a brutal wake up call to what the world of fiction can achieve when theme and story come together.
Some people think that because it features children that this book is suitable for children or younger audience. The film adaption shoved this science fiction masterpiece on to YA shelves with slick covers, as if it could be marketed toward them in an appropriate way, and maybe it was. Maybe I’m just stuck in my ways and maybe I’m just reading too much into a book that isn’t really all that deep but… I think that Ender’s Game is a sophisticated look at militarization and the destruction of childhood at the hands of adults and I wonder that if its pushed further and further towards the young that it might just lose some of it’s impact.
Andrew “Ender” Wiggins is not a normal young boy. He is one of the smartest children in a world with super intelligent children. He fights off bullies and dodges the violence of his older brother all while proving that he might just be the earth’s best hope. After being taken from his parents and put into a military school in space, Ender finds himself put in situations purposely designed to test his mettle.
Whether the Military is justified in its actions is not something overtly talked about in the book. Instead we get a story about perseverance and achievement, where Ender excels and pushes forward into becoming exactly what the military wants him to become.
The sub text and depth that awaits the reader who gives Ender’s game more than a cursory glance is enormous. The themes I touched upon earlier, militarization, the destruction of childhood only become more and more present as we see the lengths that the powers that be in ender’s life are willing to go in order to achieve their goals. The specifics and reasoning behind their willingness to put a young child into harm’s way. This book pulls no punches even when it requires Ender to demonstrate brutality and violence in a way that disturbs me to this day.
I like this book, but I’m not sure I love this book, its one of the best science fiction novels ever written, one of my favorites even. I would recommend it to someone regardless of their genre preferences. The themes and ending stuck with me, but the story was good. The story transcended its themes and demonstrated the thing that all great books need to show the world. That they’re fun to read, regardless of whether or not they are a bully that wants to give you a swirly and throw you out into the snow.