Thursday, June 12, 2008

Ender's Game - Orson Scott Card

Title: Ender's Game
Author: Orson Scott Card
Date Finished: June 12, 2008 #31
Pages: 226
Rating: 4.25/5

*Note: this post does contain my thoughts on the book, but I'm taking the scenic route to get there:

I heard of this book through blogging--I'm not sure that I had heard of it before then. But then my sister read it this year for her sophomore English class and a coworker listened to it and I realized I needed to pick it up soon--even given my apprehension of science fiction novels.

While at the bookstore with hubby, he expressed some interest in this one and I jumped at his interest since he hates reading. I've mentioned before that he is dyslexic and struggles with the difficulty and frustration of reading. Harry Potter was actually his first book--one that I loaned to him when we were next-door-neighbors in college.

So, we got the book and when we were driving to my dad's over Memorial Day weekend (a one a and a half hour drive each way), he suggested that I read it to him instead of reading my book to myself. Last summer I read Harry Potter 6 to him while on our various cartrips--a re-read for both of us before the new one was released--and even though reading aloud is exhausting, it makes the trip go much faster for each of us.

During that weekend and then this past weekend on our three hour cartrip to his parents house, I read much of the book to him. My mouth gets tired and I get tongue-tied, but I love love love reading to him. Because this is a part of my life that I rarely get to share with him, I revel in the moments when we can discuss the book and get excited over the same parts in the novel--speculating what will happen and exploring the themes presented. I was sad when we got home on Sunday with 40 pages left in the book, especially when he decided to finish the book without me.

The bottom line is that because I read most of this book aloud, my experience was very different from if I had read the book to myself, by myself. We got to know the characters together, I got to explore the voice of each character when trying to bring each alive. My favorite parts were when the characters were in heated discussions or when little Ender was having personal moments of crisis and both of us were able to hear the passion that comes out of the text. Although I have found that my mind wanders too much for listening to audiobooks, I have fallen in love with the experience of reading aloud.

Thanks for indulging me. :)

Ender's Game is the story of Andrew "Ender" Wiggin, a young child of six who is taken away from his family in order to attend Battle School. There he will learn the skills he needs in order to fight the Buggers who are threatening earth with destruction. He leaves behind an abusive brother and a loving sister to join a world he knows nothing about--one where he will have to grow up rather quickly.

At the Battle School, Ender is pushed to his limits, but his brilliance shines through and he quickly excels through school leading groups of other children in battle simulation--or games--and shows the adults his promise as the one who could save the human race from the Buggers. Back at home, tensions are building in the world as the Russians and the countries of the Warsaw Pact are putting pressure on the other nations. Ender has a lot resting on his shoulders--will he be The One that can save the world and defeat the Buggers? If so, will peace between the worldly nations hold or will hell break loose without the common fear of the Buggers holding the different factions together? And will it ultimately cost him his childhood?

As I mentioned before, the characters come alive in the novel. It is difficult not to fall in love with little Ender (who doesn't seem very little after he stops acting like the child he truly is)--he is vulnerable and afraid, he loves and is passionate, he feels and has hope. And while we don't get to see too much of his brother, Peter, and sister, Valentine, these characters develop throughout the novel providing a strong foil to Ender. There is also a wide cast of other characters that I loved getting to know through their interaction with Ender. Hubby and I had some great laughs over the dialogue--and we were reminded often that first and foremost, these characters were children when they called each other names such as fart eater. :)

I have two qualms with the novel. First, because I am not a visual person I had a tough time imagining some of the battle or game scenes in the novel. This is where hubby came in because he is incredibly visual. I would stop reading and he would explain to me what the students looked like while in battle. If I hadn't read these parts aloud--having to read every single word--I probably would have done a lot of skimming. I found myself doing this while reading the remainder by myself and didn't get quite as much enjoyment. Second, I was a little disappointed with the almost ending. Hubby was telling me about the huge twist, but when I got to it I wasn't surprised by it. However, a few pages later my twist came and I was rewarded with chills. We didn't agree on liking the ending, but I loved it. The ending is beautiful and hopeful (sort of) as it brought everything full circle.

So, thanks to those who reviewed it before me:

Nymeth from Things Mean a Lot
Kim from Bold.Blue.Adventure
Debi from Nothing of Importance
Raidergirl3 from An Adventure in Reading
Jeane from Dog Ear Diary

20 comments:

  1. I think I'll have to try reading out loud on our next long car trip--it's good you found a book both you and hubby were interested in! I've heard so many people say that they liked this book, but until I read your review, I had no idea what it was about!

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  2. I'm so glad you shared about reading aloud to your husband! That's something we used to do, too...we loved to travel and I would read aloud while my husband drove. We loved it! But once kids came along, it just didn't work, as one of them is always interrupting needing something or other.

    I'm glad to hear you enjoyed the book even though sci-fi isn't your thing. This was quite a different read for me as well, but wow, did I love it!

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  3. I see many people have had the pleasure of reading and reviewing. The quantity of readers makes me want to read, even though I personally don't find sci-fi as exciting as fantasy and everything in between.

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  4. I know what you mean about reading out loud; you just get a lot more out of it, somehow. Although, Harry Potter is an ambitious read aloud! I read Inkheart aloud to my class this year, and they loved it, but not every class is able to enjoy longer literature. I've never read an Orson Scott Card novel, to my chagrin, but after hearing so much about them on blogs I'll have to remedy that soon!

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  5. Husband and I take some fairly long car trips. When I drive, I like to just be quiet and think; hubby sleeps while I do this. When he drives, he likes to be entertained (music, etc.), but I want to take the opportunity to read. Unfortunately, I can't read if he's got music playing. Soooo ... I've discovered that if I read my book out loud while he drives, we're both pretty happy (except when I can no longer talk from reading out loud for so long!).

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  6. *Laura - sometimes it is frustrating because it takes SO long to read just a few pages, but it does make the time go by fast. I kept hearing about this book as well, but I didn't know what it was about until I picked it up. It was good though!

    *Debi - I'm always reluctant to share more personal things on here, but because the experience was so tied to the book, I couldn't resist. I can't wait to read to my kids--it is a fond memory I have of my own childhood. Maybe something not quite as long, though. :)

    *Harry - I've heard so many good things about this book. I'm not sure I liked it as much as everyone else, but science fiction isn't really my genre of choice either.

    *Bellezza - Harry Potter took us quite some time! Texas is a rather large state, so we had some road trips that were over 10 hours long--just one way. It took us about a month to read the book and averaged about 20 pages (or a chapter) every hour!! But, it was great fun. I hope you do read this one--I think you'd like it.

    *Terri - I used to sleep on cartrips while hubby drove (I never get to drive...which is fine with me!). When reading aloud, I get to the point where I can't really talk much either, but I love the experience. I love hearing that there are others out there who do this as well!

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  7. I'm glad your husband enjoys that. Usually, if we're going places, I'm driving, but my wife gets carsick reading, so that would never work for us. As for me reading to her, she hates (except for poetry) when I read to her...I'll read a couple of pages from a book that I think is fantastic, and she'll go, "Okay, and your point?" ;)

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  8. Oh, as for Ender's Game. Loved it. I'll admit I couldn't get into Speaker for the Dead. As a Catholic, I had a hard time getting past Card's using the mythology of Catholicism for the book. Maybe though I'll have to try it again sometime.

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  9. My husband is also dyslexic and does not enjoy reading. He is super embarassed on how bad of a reader he is. This is a great way to share something I love with him.

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  10. *Readingfool - I actually found out that he enjoyed me reading to him on accident--but he only likes it when we are driving. Otherwise I get the "Okay, and your point." :) I really enjoyed Ender's Game, but as of right now I'm not feeling compelled to pick up anything else in the series. I'm sorry it didn't work out for you! It sounds like it might be more theoretical than Ender's Game, which was maybe more political?

    *Anon - Thanks for sharing. Hubby has a really tough time as well and gets embarrassed and frustrated by his reading skills--especially when he told me that at 22 he read his first book--Harry Potter. He does read more than he has in the past, but it isn't something that he enjoys like I do. I hope that maybe reading aloud to your husband could be a solution!

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  11. How great that you got to read this aloud to your husband! It sounds like such a great experience :)

    I completely agree that the characters come alive. Orson Scott Card is great at writing characters. And your twist was my twist too. The book just wouldn't have been the same if it had ended a chapter earlier.

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  12. Loved this book, and I really sympathized with Ender. My husband read it recently and felt the opposite- he thought Ender was annoying, always whining woe-is-me! Well, each his own opinion.

    Thanks for the link. I'll return it!

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  13. I think it's wonderful that you and your husband share reading by your reading aloud on car trips. :-) I can see, too, how reading the book together would enhance the reading experience for both of you. It's a shame he finished the book without you!

    I do want to read this book. I keep seeing it come up in reviews and most have been very positive.

    I didn't mind taking the scenic route to get to your thoughts on the book at all. :-)

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  14. I read it last year for a reading challenge, and I was impressed. I'm not keen on science fiction but this one is a very easy to read book and Ender is just adorable. It is one of those books one should read if he wants to enter the science fiction world.

    Regards,
    Sim

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  15. *Nymeth - I started to read Stardust to hubby this weekend on our trip, but he wasn't too fond of it--so I guess it all depends on the books. He was thrilled to find out there were a couple of sequels to Ender's Game, though! Have you read any of them?

    *Jeane - Ha ha, when I read Ender, it always sounded a little whiney to me as well, but I did like him and sympathize with him. I'm glad you liked this one--have you read anything else by him?

    *Lit Feline - Ah well, it was only the last 40 pages, but he was really really impatient for me to finish! When I was reading it he kept coming into the bedroom asking "So what's going on now" :) I hope you get a chance to read this one--it's a fun book but also provides some interesting food for thought.

    *Sim - This one was easy to read--although some of the battle scenes I had a difficult time imagining. Hubby kept saying how this would make a great movie and I would agree. Thanks for coming by!

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  16. It's been several years since I read this, but I've been toying with the idea of a re-read. I want to read Ender's Shadow (which I hear is almost better than Ender's Game), but want to go back and see how the whole story begins. I don't trust my memory!

    What fun to read this out loud to your husband. I can imagine how tough it could be, though, especially trying to make your voice distinctive for each character. And I agree. I think it would make a fun movie!!

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  17. Trish - Are we married to the same person? My husband also hated to read and Harry Potter was also the very first book that he EVER read. I was so proud of him. His interest has increased a lot because he's trying to write a screenplay. Ender's Game was on the first books besides HP that he picked up and actually read. Another proud moment. He really liked it but I haven't read anything by Orson Scott Card yet.

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  18. *Les - The toughest part with reading it aloud came at the beginning of each chapter where the two officers are talking back and forth without any cues of "he said". I'm not very good at voices. :) I'll have to put Ender's Shadow on the list!

    *Natasha - My husband has been really excited ever since he found out that there are several other books in the series--has your husband read any of the others? This is a fun read and it is pretty quick--you should pick it up!

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  19. I'm a big fan of Ender's Game. I added it to my classroom library for student book clubs. Some have loved it, some have not.

    I recommend Speaker for the Dead but I did not make it all the way through the thrird book. I'm afraid Mr. Card has gone a bit overboard with the Ender series. The first book said just about all there was to say, the second said the rest.

    It was interesting reading this review after reading your review for Rumors of War. Both are excellent reviews by the way.

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  20. *C.B. - I had heard a lot about this book--but the person who actually convinced me I needed to read it was my sister (16) who was assigned the book for high school. She loved it. Thanks for you input on the rest of the series--I'm not too too interested myself but my husband has been thrilled since he found out there are other "Ender" books. Have you read Ender's Shadow? I know it isn't a direct sequel, but I am wondering if that might be better than Speaker of the Dead.

    by the way, I'm curious about your comment about reading this review after Rumor of War review...?

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