Ender’s game is an interesting read given that the overarching theme revolves around the pressure of being ‘the chosen one’ in a futuristic setting. We are introduced to a world where Earth has previously been invaded by and Alien race known as ‘Buggers’. After preventing the invasion the – now united – world council have set up a space station known as Battle School, where children are trained to become military personnel in anticipation for another alien attack.
We are introduced to Ender Wiggin, a prodigy on track to be selected for Battle School. Much of his life thus far has seen him segregated from society (bar his sister) as his brother and other potential, failed candidates channel their jealousy into harassing our protagonist. Though Ender is a somewhat pacifist spirit, he learns pretty quickly that in order to survive his situation he needs to strike first and strike hard.
During his time in Battle School, Card dives deeper into this theme in having Ender purposely pointed out as superior by his teachers among his classmates in what can only be described as a ‘diamonds are formed under pressure’ tactic. We see Ender’s emotional response seem to change his compassionate self, something the military wishes to squash in order to create the perfect strategist.
The book evolves into one that mirrors the world that existed back when this book was published (1985), and has managed to remain relevant in the idea that the governments of the world have more control than we know. We see this when Ender’s final exams/game turn out to be the real deal. Unbeknownst to any of the children who’d been training in Battle and Command School they had been controlling the lives and armies that had been sent out to deep space in an attack on the Buggers who’d left Earth alone since there initial defeat. The realisation that Ender had been sacrificing lives like pawns on a chess board mirrored the realisation that he himself had been a pawn all along. He was a tool used by the military in order to exact the genocide of an alien race that had avoided Earth since the discovery that humanity was intelligent life.
I know this post hasn’t really followed the format of my usual reviews and that is simply because this book, though enjoyable makes you think. It forces you to dwell on the society we live in and how much we really know about it. You find yourself looking inwards to your own individuality, questioning how much of that was formed by your environment rather than yourself. And you start to become more aware of the impact you have on those around you. I know I’ve taken a philosophical approach in how I’ve analysed this novel, and most people who’ve read it will probably disregard the above under the ideology that it’s just a book with a great story. I agree, it is a great book, but a great story is more than just a well written plot, it makes you think. A great book should add value to your life in one way or another… but that’s just my take on it.