Orson Scott Card
Ender's Game (1985, rev. 1991)
Winner of the 1986 Hugo and 1985 Nebula Awards for Best Novel.
Ender #1
Reviewed: 1997-10-28

Ender Wiggin is a Third. At a maximum of two children per family he would have never been allowed to be born. But humanity is desperate. After two wars with the buggers, an insectoid alien species, mankind prepares for the Third Invasion, the confrontation that, with an outcome either way, will be the final one. A project is undertaken to develop a gifted child into the genius military leader required to defeat the buggers once and for all. Although Ender's brother and sister, Peter and Valentine, were rejected, they showed enough promise for the state to grant their parents a third child.

From early childhood on Ender is intimately monitored through a brain implant. At the age of six he is removed from his family and enters Battle School, an elite military academy, where he is subjected to intense training, constantly pushed to his limits as a commander and tactician. Ender is subjected to ongoing manipulation by the teachers who use his relationships with other students and the memories of his family, in particular his siblings, in a desperate push to produce yet in time the commander for the human fleet.

Ender's Game is the story of a child prodigy, but a child nevertheless, forced to adulthood before his time. Isolated from his peers and often hated by them, vastly intelligent, a military genius, a killer, but still a helpless child. The large part of the novel dealing with Ender's education drags somewhat but the reader is rewarded with a powerful ending. When the details emerge of the conflict between humans and buggers Ender becomes a tragic figure. A central motif of the novel is the ongoing manipulation of a person's life by others and the reconciliation of this with an individual's responsibility, a problem again and again faced by Ender and his sister who has an important subplot of her own.

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