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.