January 7, 2010

1 of 52- Ender's Game by Orson Scott Card

First of all, I just wanted to thank everyone who gave me a book suggestion—I don’t have 52 yet but I’m on my way!! The first randomly-selected book is…

ENDER’S GAME by Orson Scott Card, suggested by Jenny! (jmartinlibrary)

What she didn’t know was that this one was already in my library bag. You know, the huge bag full of books I carted home from the library to read over my winter lull. I’d been intending to read it for some time (like, since I was 12?) but for some reason, I just never got around to it.

There isn’t going to be any sort of plot summary. If you want one, go here.
What I want to talk about it my reaction, what the book meant to me. So here’s my reaction.

This one really hit the spot. You should know that I’m a big fan of SF so I was a bit predisposed to love Ender’s Game. First, I love the freedom SF gives an author to explore universal themes unhampered by modern issues. Second, I was raised on SF. Once I consumed all the children’s books in my house and began to complain that there was “nothing to read,” my father sated my appetite with the books from his basement library—all classic science fiction. Even though it takes place in the future, Ender’s Game took me back to my childhood.

Ender’s Game takes place in a futuristic society that is really not so unlike ours today—children work at desks (laptops), people talk on nets (the internet), and use discussion boards. Pretty impressive for someone writing in 1977. And that’s only one of the things that makes this book so amazing. Card develops incredibly compelling characters (most notably Ender) by not forcing them into any neat slots. Though he writes about children, from the beginning he promises that THESE children will be special—neither adults nor children—and then remains true to that promise. This is one of the things I was most impressed with—characters that had the ability to be children and grow without losing their essential personality.

Although there was very little description in this book, it didn’t seem to need it. The story seemed to function well as an exploration of themes and characters, not really relying on what things looked like or where they were located. Usually a lack of description is a big problem, but here I was able to see it as an element of style rather than something that was lacking. Interesting. The only major negative I can say about the book is that I found the ending to be weak and stretched out, but that’s a matter of personal opinion.

My rating system requires a bit of explanation. How do I give a book stars? Are those like the stickers your teacher used to give for doing your homework? No. I refuse. Every book is worth more than stars. The easiest way to explain my rating system is to say that it has several levels of “like.” If I turned each of those “likes” into a number/description, here is what it would look like:

0 stars- “Hell, no.” Burn it. Burn it to the ground. Donnie Darko evil burning thoughts. (I have only ever used this to rate Hemingway, Melville, and certain Dickens pieces. Great Expectations, you know what you did…)
1 star - “No, thank you.” I am going to tell people how much I didn’t like this book. But politely. Please don’t ever make me read that again. It was not my cup of tea.
2 stars - “What?” Did I just read something? Something about this experience annoyed me.
3 stars - “Okay” Meh. I probably won’t remember this in a month or two, but it was okay.
4 stars - “Like” I’m glad I read it. I won’t forget it any time soon and I’d like someone to talk to about it. Maybe I’ll read it again at some point.
5 stars - “LOVE” If a book was worth reading once, it is worth reading again. SOMEONE DISCUSS THIS BOOK WITH ME BEFORE I EXPLODE AND/OR STOP PEOPLE ON THE STREET TO GIVE THIS BOOK TO THEM. I will BUY this book with change from the sofa if I have to. This deserves a place of honor on my shelf.

I’d give Ender’s Game between “like” and “LOVE”—I really liked it and plan on buying it. Thank you so much, Jenny, for sharing this!

6 comments:

  1. Squee! So glad you picked it up! I feel the same way. For me, Ender is not about the atmosphere or the plot; it's the rich characterization. Very quickly, you KNOW Ender. You feel what he feels. You experience his emotions.

    Orson Scott Card also wrote a great "how to" book on Characterization and Point of View. For writers, it's worth reading, too.

    Thanks for the mention! :)

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  2. I LOVE Ender's Game! I actually reread it at least once a year--and the rest of the books in the series (it branches out in two directions) are well worth a read also!!

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  3. Yay! Sara, now I have a huge number of books to read- I knew there were a few more but I had no idea there were this many!

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  4. @jmartinlibrary--that's exactly it, I really DID feel Ender's emotions. Very powerful- exactly what I want from a book!

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  5. Never heard of this one but it sounds great.

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  6. @Jenny--I would definitely suggest reading it!

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