Ender's Game

So, after my beautiful and important fiancée read a copy of the graphic novel version of Ender's Game by Orson Scott Card for an illustrious committee on which she sits, it occurred to us both that we had never read the novel as kids. We missed out.

If you enjoyed The Hunger Games by Suzanne Collins (and is there anybody who didn't?), then you will love this book. A lot of webspace and printspace have been devoted to calling out Collins for aping Koushun Takami's Battle Royale, but I think that Katniss owes a lot more of her existence to Ender Wiggin, the small boy who never cracks, and whose genius is only exposed more and more as people throw seemingly insurmountable obstacles in his way.

Ender Wiggin, the third son of a secret Mormon and a secret Catholic, may or may not be mankind's best hope for survival. A special government program enlists the brightest kids on the planet in a lifelong training and discipline program devoted to finding the great minds that will save us from the Buggers, when they return to get their revenge.

Ender - The youngest kid to do pretty much anything, and he also does it better than anyone else.

Peter - Ender's older brother. He flunked out of the program for being too sadistic. Strong physically, mentally brilliant, but without moral decency.

Valentine - Ender's sister. With her brothers, one third of the most important family ever conceived. Her gentle nature nurtures Ender, and perhaps tempers Peter.

Bean - Ender's friend in Battle School. Card went on to write several books with him as the star.

Graff - The head of the Battle School program. Caring and moral, but goal oriented and hierarchical.

Mazer Rackham - The hero of the 2nd Bugger War.

Interesting stuff
The book isn't really interesting because of the extreme youth of so many characters. In fact, the youth angle is more of a gimmick to be overlooked in many ways. What is important is the idea of "turning the board around." Ender becomes successful because he is able to think like his enemy. It is not the mind of a hacker, though Ender is a hacker in many ways, that makes him successful. It is his intuition and empathy that make him strong. His ability to step into the shoes of other people, to understand their weaknesses and motives, that gives him his power, a power that is developed in beautiful style in the sequel, Speaker for the Dead.