Sunday, March 02, 2008

Ender's Game...random thoughts

I suppose it might be wise of me to wait a few days to write this review. To let it settle a bit. To see where my thoughts lead. But I'm not waiting, so this is bound to come out a bit raw, a bit haphazard.

As everyone knows, Chris loves this book. Jean loves this book. Carl loves this book. Annie loves this book. Becky loves this book. I would trust the opinion of any one of these people. Put them together, and well, I knew I couldn't lose. And yet, I was still not prepared for the emotional experience I would have reading this book. I realize that might sound a little melodramatic, and I apologize. But nonetheless, it is true. I don't believe I've ever been so moved by a work of fiction before.

And I'm not sure I can even explain why, because I can't quite get a handle on it myself. It's certainly true that we all experience books in different ways based on our own lives, our own experiences, our own beliefs, our own personalities. But this book hit me in a way that no other book has ever hit me before. It somehow went straight for the jugular...my maternal instincts. I don't know why. I've certainly read plenty of books featuring children before, and never had them affect me this way. And it's not that my children are like Ender...they aren't geniuses and they certainly aren't being called upon to do impossible things. And yet somehow, something in Ender Wiggin brought out that part of me. Part of it may just be the way that he just doesn't "fit" with other children...and that is something I see my own kids struggle with often, though obviously in ways far different from Ender. But even if that is part of it, I don't think that's all of it. I can't explain it, but that's how it is.

I suppose for those of you who haven't read this, I'm making absolutely no sense (and possibly to those of you who have read it as well). I should really tell you a bit about the story. But I'm going to cheat and just refer you to Kim's review. I just read it this morning, after finishing the book myself. (I didn't want to read it when she first wrote it, because I knew I was about to read the book myself.) Anyway, she is so good at summarizing a book...something I really struggle with because I'm so prone to going off on tangents. (Yeah, like I really had to point that out, huh?)

Okay, if you've read Kim's review or, of course, the book, you now know that Ender Wiggin was conceived with the sole purpose of saving the earth from a race of aliens known as Buggers. Ender is gifted...gifted beyond normal imagination. ("Gifted" is a term I despise, but that's a tangent I'll save for another day.) Ender is a Third, something that sets him apart from the beginning. Because in this day and age, couples are only allowed to have two children. Ender's older brother and sister are equally as brilliant as Ender, but do not possess the disposition it takes to lead the world to victory against their powerful enemy. So, an exception is made, and Ender is conceived. And at the ripe old age of six, Ender is sent to Battle School to begin his training.

But from the very beginning, Ender is different than the other children. And he's treated differently. The isolation, the ceaseless demands on his body and his mind, the unfairness of it all...it added up to cruelty. And this is what really affected the "mom" in me. This book left me in tears on multiple occasions...tears of sadness, tears of helplessness, tears of rage. Yes, I know this is a work of fiction, but it just got to me...it really got to me. And no, I'm not a complete idiot...I did understand the purpose of Ender's education, but it hit on a real gut level.

Part of it, may be because of my attitudes towards war, in general. I'm not naive enough to believe that war can always, in all circumstances, be avoided. But I am naive enough to believe that it usually can, and it usually should. For example, from the very beginning, I never thought the U.S. should have gone to war in Iraq. I am not trying to get political here, and I definitely don't want to argue with anyone about this. I only mention it, because it is part of the perspective from which I viewed this book. And I definitely thought this book had some very poignant things to say about war, and about human nature.

Oh man. I am just not doing this book justice. Maybe I really should have waited a few days to write this. I can't say that everyone will be affected as strongly by this book as I was, but even without that, it is one heck of a good story. It has definitely moved into first place for my favorite read of the year.


I know the Sci-Fi Experience officially ended two days ago. I had hoped to have finished this one in time, but didn't quite make it. Still I wanted to take a second to say a big thank you to Carl for hosting this. It was quite a fun experience for me. I've never really thought of myself as a big Sci-Fi fan, but I can honestly say that I enjoyed all four books I read. (The Stainless Steel Rat, by Harry Harrison, Star Split, by Kathryn Lasky, The War of the Worlds, by H.G. Wells, and Ender's Game, by Orson Scott Card) And I think I can honestly say that it won't take another challenge to get me to read more!


Oh, and I almost forgot to mention that this is also my first book for Becky's Margaret A. Edwards Challenge. And it crosses off another for 3M's Book Award Challenge and her Decades Challenge. And of course, it's always nice to fill in another letter in Joy's A-Z Challenge.

13 comments:

Dawn said...

I am intrigued by your review and I think I might just add this to my summer reading list. Thank you for sharing your feelings. It made me want to give the book a try.

take care,
Dawn

Nymeth said...

There is nothing melodramatic about being moved by a book to this extent, Debi. It has only happened to me a few times, but whenever I pick up a new book to read, I hope that it will.

Your thoughts on this book are beautiful. I am reading it for the Margaret A. Edwards challenge as well, and this is one of the books I mentioned the other day that are on their way to me. I really can't wait to read it.

Debi said...

Dawn,
You really should...I suspect you would really enjoy it. And it's a pretty quick read as well.

Nymeth,
I can't wait for it to arrive in your hands! There is NO doubt in my mind that reading your review will bring it back vividly to life for me...and that you'll put into words things about the book that I just couldn't seem to get out there.

Becky said...

I'm so glad you enjoyed this one--if enjoyed is the right word--maybe experienced is better maybe not. It is really something. :) And it was one of those momentous books for me. Speaking of melodrama, I can almost divide my life into pre and post Ender. I hope after a little time you'll go on to read the rest of Ender's story. If you had this much reaction to Ender's Game, I can almost guarantee that you'll love Speaker For The Dead. Almost being key. There are really no predictors when it comes to reading. :)

I enjoyed reading your review, your response to this book. :)

Jean said...

I may or may not have told you this, Debi, but I read this book when Don was 12 or 13 and asked me to read it. (Debi already knows, but my older son Don took his first college class at 11, started high school at 12, and then took ended up splitting his days between high school and college classes. His first academic publication was in the journal Science, when he was 16.) Since he'd never asked me to read a book before, I knew it was a special thing. He never wanted to talk about the book, but I still think he asked me to read it because it summed up on some level how out-of-place he felt in many ways. I'd also like to think that it might have been because of the support and protection he got from his parents that Ender never had. Whatever, my reaction when I first read it was almost as strong as Debi's. It basically blew me away. So you didn't have to explain anything to me about your reaction, Debi. Been there. Felt that.

Debi said...

Becky,
I told Chris before I actually finished Ender's Game that I couldn't quite see myself reading Speaker for the Dead because I was afraid of somehow tainting this experience. I think I now have to eat those words though. After seeing how Ender's Game ended, I'm sure I will continue on with his story. Not right away, but eventually.

And I have to say it's nice to know I'm not the only one who was affected so profoundly by this book. You know, to be honest, I was a little weirded out by just how emotional an experience this was for me.

Debi said...

Jean,
Thanks. Seriously...thanks. Just reading your comment has the tears flowing once again. Your boys are both so lucky to have you!

Kim L said...

debi-I'm honored that you mentioned my review. Just so you know, I love your reviews, you do such a great job of taking the book apart and analyzing it, and explaining how it impacted you. It sounds like this was an intense experience for you! That's so great, because I really think that was OSC's point when he wrote it.

I'm really hoping to read Speaker for the Dead sometime soon, I have heard that its even better. I'll have to wait a while before reading it though.

cj said...

I think your review is terrific and I understand how you felt. I wasn't hit as strongly, there were parts of it that effected me in the same way.

Kids and animals, especially dogs. They're about the only things that truly get to me any more. The Pedigree dog food commercial make we want to burst into tears... and then adopt every dog that needs a home!

cjh

Carl V. said...

I think you did the book plenty of justice. Nicely done. And I wouldn't worry about being moved by this book. I was in tears at the end of it and, for that matter, with Speaker for the Dead as well...which you must read!

This is a powerful book and one that has become a treasured favorite. Glad you are now among those blown away by this story.

jpderosnay said...

wow! great review! your enjoyment for this book came pouring through my screen!

and i totally understand what you like about it. whats best of all, though, is that the book touched you personally. thats really the most special thing one could ever hope for from a book.

i have not yet read "ender's game", but i've read "ender's shadow", which is a parallel novel and covers most of the same stuff as "game" but with bean as the focus.

i really enjoyed that so much and because of it i want to read "ender's game". your review, along with chris, carl and everyone elses makes me want to read it even more.

Chris said...

I think you did this book amazing justice, Debi. This was an amazing review...I've never looked at Ender's Game from a mother's perspective before and wow...I can't imagine how tough of a read it must have been at times. It's certainly an emotional book in it's own and speaks volumes on human relations, war, youth, psychology, our capabilities, etc. It's an incredible book and I'm glad you had such a moving experience with it. Now on to Speaker ;)

Jeane said...

I loved it too! What a great review.