Ender’s Game is one of those books that I’ve been meaning to read for a few years now, and I just never made time. It’s partly because I always imagined it was going to be too much sci-fi for me. I’m not sure why I tend to shy away from sci-fi books because I usually end up liking them just as much as (if not more than) any other genre. I’ll just go ahead and apologize for that now. This book was simply excellent.
In some ways, “Ender” Wiggin is your typical 5 year old in the future. In many ways, he’s not. Due to the overpopulation of Earth, families are limited to two children except when given explicit governmental permission to have a “Third.” They give permission when a lineage shows particular promise for creating adept military commanders, as they did with the Wiggin family. You see, Earth has had two previous wars with some extra-terrestrials called “Buggers,” who are cunning fighters. Humans only survived the last war because a military genius named Mazer Rackham was able to fend off a massive Bugger attack. The military is trying desperately to discover and train potential leaders for their intergalactic fleet. As Ender embarks on his journey, the threat of a Bugger attack is looming closer than ever. What will become of the fate of mankind?
A bit dramatic? Perhaps, but it works. Watching the military manipulate and challenge children in this age group to see if they “have what it takes to lead” is chilling. It’s remarkable to see the bonds that form between these kids and the intelligence that develops as a result of that pressure. This book gives some keen insight into the military complex and what happens to the mind under stress. More importantly though, it realistically captures how a kid would handle these situations. You empathize with Ender and his friends. You celebrate their victories and wish against their defeats. All-in-all, it’s a really amazing story. If you’ve never read it, check it out!