Wednesday, October 2, 2013

The Book Review Club - Ender's Game

Ender's Game
Orson Scott Card
Age Group: ?

With the movie quickly approaching, I got my hands on a copy of this almost cultish book. As a kid, I gobbled up science fiction - Dune, anything by Mary Stewart, Martian Chronicles, every Stars Wars book ever written. But Ender's Game came out way after my science fiction phase. I was well into battling my way through such wonders as the far more scientific (than fictional) Charles Monod's Chance and Necessity. Sigh. Hours of my life I'll never get back. 

For those of you who haven't had the pleasure yet, Ender's Game is a battle heavy book about a boy who has to save humankind from the perceived threat of an alien race, much like the Borg for all you trekkie fans, that have attacked earth twice. There will be no third invasion. Instead, we're taking the battle to their home world and Ender must lead the attack.

Despite a zillion fight scenes and at times unsettling brutality, I enjoyed Ender's Game. The premise was intriguing and the characters all Byronic heroes in their own way, but more than anything what kept me coming back for more was that the writing perplexed me. Card defies boxes.

Ender is a child who writes, speaks and acts like an adult. Entirely. There is nothing childlike about him. Either this is genius on Card's part, a particularity of the genre science fiction (there are no childlike characters) or an inability to create a child protagonist. Either way, unchildlike child protagonists are definitely Card's calling card, which has led me to theorize as to what good they do. I've come up with three: 1) this kind of character holds up a mirror up to the way we treat children in war zones; 2) this character portrays the way children view themselves, and 3) these characters create stories that defy categorization.

Three intrigues me most because Card's protagonist appeals to a young audience and well as older ones, and has created a cultish following among none other than teen readers. How's that for defying/embracing all categories at once? Seems like  genius on Card's part. His work defies the neat boxes publishing has attempted to erect and divide books into. In getting rid of the boxes and making a jederman character, Card's stories unsettle me, and in unsettling me, challenge me as a reader to think, reassess, reenvision the world around me, and as a writer to challenge boundaries too. Yep, definitely genius.

For more great reads check out Barrie Summy's website. It's brimming with temptation!