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Review: “Ender's Game,” by Orson Scott Card

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I had begun this book in an effort to read it before the movie came out. Unfortunately, due to my slow reading habits I never finished it in time. I was tempted to go see the film without reading the book and I'm very glad that I resisted that temptation. Although the trailers displayed ample pyrotechnics and special effects that is not what this book is about at all. This is a science fiction character study done quite well. Ender's Game was written almost 30 years ago and holds up remarkably well. It is a bit surprising that it took this long to make it into a film. The character of Ender is interesting, if not complicated. The relationships between him, his sister, Valentine, and his brother, Peter, are somewhat fascinating. The manipulated familial bonds, all set against the impending invasion and wars against the insecticide-like buggers, it intriguing and thought-provoking. Ender is a broken hero. Destined for one great act and then set aside for life. Do I like Ender? I feel sympathy for him and I want to like him, but I'm not sure. In his growth, abilities and training he becomes exactly what mankind needs. It's not that the cost is too much for the human race, but the cost is too much for one little boy. The middle tends to drag a bit as Ender's training and the extreme demands that are put upon him seem to never end. The Admiral and Mazer Rackham tend to morph almost into caricature, but they are essential to the story. The role of Valentine brings a warm, human center to an otherwise bleak, cold, steely world. The ending is so redeeming as to be almost religious, as it so clearly wants to be. Kudos to Card's ability to forecast some subtleties of what gaming and computer simulations would bring to our world. Greater kudos to Card for a wonderful story.