by Orson Scott Card
Ender Wiggin is offered a place in Battle School when he is six. There, he is isolated and trained in war simulations to assist in the war against an alien race.
I thought this was a really interesting sci-fi novel. It wasn’t as action packed as I had expected from a military sci-fi story, but that wasn’t a bad thing. A war story featuring children doesn’t read the same as one featuring adults. The stakes feel lower, even when they’re not. The strategies are different, as well as the social interactions. Even more so for this particular cast of characters, because they’re child geniuses. They work logically and strategically to try to win the games and be the best. There is still action. It is a war book after all. But it’s also children playing war games, so the action’s less direct.
As intelligent as these child geniuses are, they’re still children. They don’t fully understand the purpose of their training. Even Ender remains naïve enough not to understand what he’s done, until he’s told at the end of the novel. He’s manipulated in a number of ways to make him feel alone enough that failure is not an option, important enough that he doesn’t quit, and not so important that the pressure of a war outcome weighs on his performance.
I liked that there was a reasoning for the war, from both sides. I liked Ender even though he’s not the most interesting character ever, or the nicest, but in his defense he’s a child who solely exists to play and succeed at war games. I liked that there were snippets of what the adults in charge of the program were up to, as well as Ender’s siblings, to break up the story a bit. Definitely a more plot driven book, and it seemed like a well developed setting without feeling like things were constantly being explained. I liked it a lot.