Wednesday, May 19, 2010

What's All the Fuss About Ender's Game? Updated

Update: Well, you all have convinced me - I'm going to finish Ender's Game. Just not right now. Thanks for all the comments. Keep them coming - I love to hear your thoughts!

Seriously. I want to know. Why does everyone love this book so much? And I do mean everyone. Have you ever dropped the name Orson Scott Card in a conversation? I guarantee, someone will gush, "Oh, I love him. You've read Ender's Game, right?" I've whispered, "Um, no" as shamefully as if I was confessing to torturing small animals.

So, a couple years ago, I decided I should finally read the book. It's such a cult classic that I decided to buy the thing rather than borrow it from the library. Even the cashier at Border's was enthusiastic - "You haven't read this yet? Oh, you're going to love it!" Her enthusiasm wasn't enough, apparently. I seem to have returned from the mall and promptly shelved Ender's Game somewhere in the deep, dark recesses of my game room, never to be seen again.

While I was in Utah last month, I spent the night with my friend and her family. Theirs is my favorite kind of house - one filled with books, and not just for display purposes either. Naturally, bookish conversations abound in such a fertile environment. Knowing sci fi was a favorite genre of the household, I should have been wary of outing myself as a Card ignoramus, but no, I quickly found myself on the receiving end of an incredulous, "You haven't read Ender's Game?" from my friend's younger brother. When he insisted, "It's the next book you read. No, not after that one" - with a contemptuous glance at my current pick - "The. Next. One," I agreed. It was time.

Because I hate to let anyone down, I'm really, really trying to get through Ender's Game. I'm on Page 95, even though I've been tempted to put it down several times. Now, I admit, I never ever in a million years rarely read pure science fiction (In fact, just typing the word "science" makes me want to fly upstairs and hide under my bed). Maybe that's the problem. Or maybe it's because Card can't show a story to save his life, he has to tell, tell, tell. His "style" makes me crazy. The premise of the book is interesting - the government is making kids into uber soldiers to combat a fierce alien threat - but the characters are flat (Ender's an arrogant little brat - that's about as far as his personality goes), the dialogue is stale (to say the least) and the writing is just, just ... I don't know ... irritating.

For those of you who have read and loved Ender's Game, give me a reason to keep going. Why do you love this book? Do I need to be a male sci fi geek to really appreciate Card's genius? Help me out here!

Incidentally, I'm also reading Before I Fall by Lauren Oliver. It, also, has received an extraordinary amount of positive buzz. I'm not forcing myself through it the way I am with Ender's Game, but I'm still wondering, "Exactly when am I going to be blown away?"

Maybe it's just the end-of-the-school-year blues that are making me snipey. I don't know. What do you think?

(Book image from Barnes & Noble)

22 comments:

  1. I read Ender's Game when I was going into the ninth grade and I fell in love with it then. Honestly, part of the reason I love it is because it made me fall in love with science fiction as a whole.

    I have to tell you that you need to get to the end. The end and the whole theme of the book is what makes it so amazing. You just have to get there!

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  2. Yes, there is a thing at the end that hopefully will make it worth it for you. I read it as a young teenager and loved it, but I don't read scifi, so I don't think I've ever re-read it (and I re-read my favorite books over and over). But I do remember absolutely loving it. So for sure you don't have to be male -- but maybe it helps to be young?

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  3. We did this for a book club once and everyone (but me) hated it, so if you end up not liking it, don't feel to alone!
    I enjoyed it. Like others have said, don't judge until you finish. I think I most appreciate the philosophical/sociological ideas he presents.

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  4. My copy of Ender's Game is held together by duct tape, I've reread it so many times. Now when I read it, I can't see it clearly, because it has the resonance of a book I loved when I was a teenager.

    If you're not sympathizing with Ender early on, though, then I don't know if you'll like the ending, even though it is cool.

    Sometimes there are books or movies I just end up disliking because they are so hyped to me that I never get to discover them for myself without the pressure of expectation.

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  5. I'm not even sure how to start my comment. Because I of course LOVED Ender's Game and have read all the sequels and most of the offshoot stories (non of which are as good as Ender, but still interesting). I loved Ender as a character; shelfish, yeah maybe a little, but I generally felt he was justified especially considering his age. I also really like how Card tells a story, I guess I didn't get the "tell"ing everything vibe.
    I will say that sometimes I think books that get too much hype end up letting you down, or at least that is often my experience. So I guess all I can say is stick with it because it is a meaningful tale, and hopefully you don't end up hating it.

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  6. I love Ender's Game so much and all the other Ender books as well.

    But every now and then I hear of a person who (gasp) doesn't like it. All I can say is it must be a gene or chromosome thing. Or maybe it's endorphins, one of those anyway LOL

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  7. So I'm trying to think...really... why do I love Ender's Game so much? I think it's because it was the first of that kind of book, a believable futuristic world, that I read. I DID feel connected to Ender. I DID enjoy the style. I thought the whole story was gripping. I think it was also the first book I read where I was floored by the ending. And no, it has nothing to do with being a male scifi geek to love it. But I'm not sure what it has to do with! I do know lots of others that feel like you... what's the big deal. Some even hated it.

    Anyway, I do hope you keep with it and let us know if your feelings are the same at the end.

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  8. Really, it's the ending (as has been mentioned). A great twisty ending. Kinda makes the book. I never read any of the sequels, though, so I guess I'm not a real fan :)

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  9. In reading the comments, now I'm worried that you knowing the ending is superb will ruin the impact of it for you LOL!

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  10. We are so definitely of the same spirit! I've tried and tried with Ender's Game and just can't get into it...same with anything else with "science" in the genre title. Just not me.

    And don't worry, Before I Fall didn't do it for me either.

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  11. I am a romance novel reader, and my husband is a sci-fi reader, so when I found myself without any new books to read, I picked up his favorite book of all time, Ender's Game. And I really enjoyed it. One small aspect of the book I really liked was Card's idea of an internet with forums and such where the children represent themselves as adults and post their ideas; this was unheard of at the time it was written, but it's become our reality today. And yes, the end of the story is worth it.

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  12. I love Ender's Game. I do. I read it in college years ago. But I've since reread it again and again and again. It was the first science fiction novel I ever read. And it did help introduce me to a new genre.

    But I read it with little (if any) expectations. I wasn't expecting it to be the best book ever. I wasn't even expecting to like it. It was "required" reading after all! It might be a case of over-thinking it a bit. Or it could quite honestly not be the right book for you (now or ever).

    What I love about Card is his characterization. I love how his characters develop and relate to one another.

    I do love the end. But like someone mentioned, I don't want all the talk of the end to become something more than what it is. Ender's Game is more than a good ending.

    I also love, love, love Speaker for the Dead, the sequel. So it helps fill out the character of Ender in my mind.

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  13. I think I know exactly how you feel. A friend loved the book and wanted me to read it but I just have such a hard time trudging through it. I already know how the book ends but it just doesn't grab me.

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  14. I dated a guy who loved this book so much, his personalized license plates included the word ENDER. The book always reminds me of him (and not in a good way, lol). I've tried to read it and I just can't. Ironically enough, my husband brought a copy of Ender's Game with us on our honeymoon...

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  15. A very long time ago, I read this book and I think I enjoyed it. It seems like I did, but honestly, I can't recall for sure. I wish I coud offer some advice, but all I can offer is that I hope you are able to find something about Ender's Game that you like 'cause it really sucks trying to read a book when you aren't enjoying it. Good luck.

    ~ Yaya
    Yaya's Home

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  16. The greatness that is Ender's game comes out in the goodness that is Ender. In a place where monsters roam the halls and everyone is encouraged to become a killer Ender becomes the best of them without becoming the worst, without losing his humanity! He encourages those around him to become better and those that hate him he well and truly understands their motives and in that moment he loves them but, also in that moment he is forced to a decision that he did not want to make.

    Watch those around Ender how they admire him how he wins their admiration not through intimidation but through his love, through his god given capacity to understand a person completely and to change the person into something they themselves did not know they could be.

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  17. Don't feel too bad about not reading it. I haven't read it either. Come to think about it. I don't think I have read any S/F books. hmmmm.

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  18. I LOVE Ender's Game and I've read it over and over but from what you've said about why you're not enjoying, I would guess you're not going to. Put it down and walk away. The ending isn't going to redeem the book if you don't like the dialogue and the characters and the writing style. The writing style is part of what I love about Ender's Game (and other OSC). I like that it's so straight forward - no flowery descriptions to slog through.
    And I'm not male, but I am a bit of a science geek type.

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  19. I enjoyed EG but I love Bean more!

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  20. My experience with Ender's Game came from listening to the Audio Book. When the book turned 20, they did a special audio edition with a full cast, which always makes for a good audio book (because there are multiple readers). I loved it... and yes, even if you don't love it, you need to see it through, just so you know how it ends. We are friends with a couple who don't have kids yet, but have dogs, and all their dogs have been named after characters in this book... Ender, Valentine and Bean. I also enjoyed Speaker for the Dead, but after that, I didn't enjoy the books in the series as much. I will say as far as OSC goes, I think I loved his book Empire even more than Ender's Game.

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  21. We did this book for our book club. Everyone seemed to really like it. Meh. It was ok. It took my awhile to get into it (I'm not sure that I really ever did get into it). The ending is good, but it did drag. Although I agree that it's interesting the technology OSC describes - especially since it was written in 1978.

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