A novel can have and exciting plot, an exotic setting, and a magnificent climax, but if this same work has dull, unimaginative characters the novel will also seem dull. Conversely, interesting characters can make up for other deficiencies in a book. The premise for this story, breeding superintelligent military children to fight alien invaders is weak, but Card makes the personalities of the children so intriguing that one quickly forgets how unlikely the entire story is. Throughout the story, the reader lives inside the mind of Ender Wiggin, a boy who is supposed to fight the next war against the aliens who have previously attacked Earth. Ender's character became so vivid to me that, over the course of the story, I found myself caring for him. When somebody wronged Ender, I got angry at that person. When Ender won a victory, I silently cheered. I was literally living the story through the eyes of Ender. Besides getting the reader more involved with the story, the characters in the story provide insight into the workings of the mind in different situations. Ender, for example, is a strong - willed genius, but there are extraordinary stresses placed on him. He has been assigned the task of saving the world and has been isolated from his peers, not only because of his extreme intelligence, but also by design of his military instructors. He feels alienated from the same people he is trying to protect. The way he works through the situation is amazing, and forms one of the most interesting aspects of the book. While the characters are what makes the story so fascinating, Card's clean, smooth style is what makes this novel so easy to read. The author provides sufficient description without making the early sections of the book tedious. In fact, even mundane events in the book held my interest, and the climax was absolutely gripping.
This is an excellent book, but there are some weak points in it. Even though they represent the best part of the novel, some of the characters in the book, especially Ender, are not quite believable. The children are geniuses, but they act much more mature than their age. After a while it is easy for one to think of these children as extremely intelligent miniaturized adults. Ender, however, acts even more mature than just about anyone I know, adult or otherwise. Although Card's style is very smooth, the conversations between Colonel Graff and Major Anderson at the beginning of each chapter are awkward, and at the beginning of the book, very confusing. These sections interrupt the flow of the story and do not fit in with the rest of the book's smooth style. The information provided in these conversations is necessary, but the author could have found a better way of conveying the information.
While science fiction enthusiasts will find this novel great, this book should appeal to others as well. Although this book is not for the fanatical realist or someone who thrives on description, anyone who likes plenty of character development or a thrilling tale will enjoy Ender's Game. I highly recommend this book, and I will definitely read it again. While it would be difficult to include all the thoughts of the characters, which are what makes this book truly great, I would like to see Ender's Game in movie form.
Besides being an exciting and easy to read novel, there are lessons to be learned from Ender's Game. It should serve as a reminder to people who search for extraterrestrial life that when we find an alien it will probably communicate in a completely different way which could lead to a misunderstanding of colossal proportions. Another lesson to be learned from the novel is this: even though the children in Ender's Game were geniuses, the story reminds us not to neglect the ideas of children as it is these ideas that will shape the future.
Book Review by: Michael Miller 04/96
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