25. Ender’s Game by Orson Scott Card (1985) 357 p.

oh, the eighties

I recently heard a lot of people describe this as one of the best books they ever read, so as usual my expectations of it were unfairly inflated and it was nowhere near as good as I expected it to be. Not that it’s a bad book.

Ender’s Game is vaguely set about a century in the future, at a time when humanity has just barely survived two catastrophic invasions by alien “buggers” and is preparing for a third. Exceptionally intelligent children are taken from families at the age of six and sent to the Battle School, a military installation in the asteroids where they are daily pitted against each other in simulated war games. Ender is considered by the top brass to be one of the best students they have seen in a long time, and possibly humanity’s only hope. The book follows his trials as he is guided by various factions and unwittingly shaped into a perfect battle commander.

Card’s writing style is nothing special, but it gets the job done, and he gets bonus points for thoughtful explorations of concepts such as self-defence and the social hierarchy of children. Parts of the story were quite familiar for me, and probably for every other reader who ever strayed close to being a nerd or outcast while in the public school system. There’s a crushing sense of inevitability, of no escape, of being in a constantly hostile environment. Ender fights back as best he can, and you love him for it. If there’s one message I took away from Ender’s Game, it’s “Don’t let the bastards grind you down.” I thoroughly agree with it.

Not the best book I ever read, or even the best science fiction book. But certainly a thumbs up, and I’ll probably read the sequels at some point in the future.

Books: 25/50
Pages: 7575