Ender’s Game – Orson Scott Card

Ender's GameReading level: 9.0
Series: Ender’s Saga book 1
Genre: Science Fiction
ELL-Friendly: No
Library recommendation: Middle or high school

I did not like this book.

Aaaand cue the angry mob of Ender’s Game fans.

I particularly enjoy reading books where I can imagine being friends with the author. I’m thinking of James Herriot, J.K. Rowling, John Green, Libba Bray. I couldn’t see myself being friends with a man  who is so against gay rights, as Orson Scott Card is. Therefore, I read the book with rather significant negative bias.

Knowing that Card is anti-gay rights, I found it incredibly hilarious that he wrote about his young, male characters sleeping and fighting naked. A lot. He mentions this detail ALL THE TIME so we don’t forget that the boys sleep naked. There were also many (unnecessary) references to boys’ “crotches.” It wasn’t inappropriate (if only excessive), and I won’t keep it off classroom selves, but, c’mon guys – the plentiful comments about boys’ nakedness leads me to believe that Card may be hiding a rather large part of his identity and trying to cover it up with hypocrisy.

Something else that irritated me was the lack of women. Aside from Ender’s mom, I think there are 2 female characters: Ender’s sister (she’s pretty awesome but in the end just barely escapes being a slave to Peter – her brother) and Petra, who is a rather minor character. But it’s okay that there are so few female characters because THEY’RE NOT SMART ENOUGH BECAUSE OF EVOLUTION: “They [girls] don’t often pass the tests to get in. Too many centuries of evolution are working against them” (24). I don’t even…

All in all, I found the book incredibly dull except for bits here and there. As the book failed to become any more interesting the more I read on, the more irritated I became. People LOVE this book! My husband, who doesn’t read much, adores this book and literally placed the book in my hands and watched me read the first chapter because he wanted me to read it so badly. He said that as a middle schooler, the book really spoke to him because he felt so isolated and different, like Ender. Like he said, maybe I have to be a middle school boy to like Ender’s Game.

The reading level is pretty high due to lots of academic language, which is why I say it’s not ELL-friendly. Each chapter opens with dialogue between two people men but who’s talking isn’t laid out. It’s just string of quotation after string of quotation. It was confusing to me, but I don’t think it would be any more confusing to ELLs unless they have limited reading proficiency in their native language(s).

I found it weird and rather disturbing that the kids boys would talk in the African American Vernacular, and it was described as slang. It’s not slang. It’s a dialect. I didn’t see the purpose of this “slang”…

And Peter is just downright creepy. He’s a 12-year-old psychopath. And Ender is 6 years old and being trained to be a killer. Creepy creepy creepy. I couldn’t even picture Ender being 6. The way he talked and thought was “advanced,” I know, but I had to picture him as 15 or older because my brain couldn’t comprehend a 6-year-old having these sorts of thoughts.

Ender’s internal struggle of being a killer/turning into Peter was interesting, I’ll admit. It’s not like he woke up one morning and realized, “oh dang, I’m a murder. When did this even happen?” No, Ender sees it coming, and he is very much aware of his transformation from innocent to killer. I heard from various sources my husband that some people don’t think this book is good for kids because killing is glorified. I didn’t think so. Because the book is told through Ender’s eyes, we see that killing people sucks. Don’t do it, boys and girls. The end, then, was my favorite part – when there’s the hope for peace and understanding. I thought this bit about coming to peace with and understanding the buggers (the enemy) was ironic because of Card’s intolerance to gay people, who, in fact, are human and not even aliens.

Edit: The reader is lead to believe that Ender is “off the hook” and innocent after murdering two children as well as millions (billions?) of buggers because he felt bad or because it was an accident. I found myself excusing Ender’s actions, but that’s not realistic or moral. When you hurt someone (or, heaven forbid, kill someone), there are consequences whether your feel sorry or not. However, I think that students (middle schoolers especially) would not think so deeply about this issue without being prompted, and I don’t think this book is going to turn kids into killers, even if it does plant the seed that you can do terrible things as long as you feel bad or if it was in self-defense (George Zimmerman trial, anyone?).

And thus ends my most cynical post to date. Good day.

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