Thursday, November 6, 2014

Teen review: Science fiction

Ender's Game, by Orson Scott Card, is undoubtedly one of my favorite books. In just 368 pages, this science fiction book is able to magnificently conjure up an innumerable amount of genuine, actual, feelings (whether negative or positive) that you thought did not exist towards the brilliantly created characters of Card's conception. What I just wrote sounds like a lot to put in one sentence, but it's a perfect example of how Ender's Game is a lot to put in one book.

Ender's Game is about a prodigy child, Ender, born into a futuristic world, in which specially selected youth are trained and put into battle against the "buggers," an alien race that poses a threat to humanity. Ender faces many conflicts, including the constant storm of harrassment thrown at him by his enemies, the stress of leading and instructing a battle team, and the internal conflict of questioning his own morality after some... grisly events.

The reason I immensely enjoyed this book is because, between all the conflict and strife all pushing down on one genius's shoulders, there was almost never a good point in time to put down Ender's Game. Every line keeps you hooked, wanting more and more, until at the very end, you become depressed because there's nothing left of Ender's story. The writing is worded perfectly, manipulating your emotions until you don't recognize yourself for the feelings you feel. The feelings are mostly directed toward the characters, who are like clockwork machines--complex and intelligently designed. Whether they're designed to spur hatred, or love, or laughter, they do a great job of it.

I would recommend this book to young adults from middle school to high school looking for a thoughtfully written book on the struggles of being different. I would especially recommend this book to lovers of futuristic settings. 

This book is part of a series, but not exactly. The second book in the series can very well be read as a stand-alone book. I have not read the full book, because I couldn't allow myself to become engaged in the plot.

Finally, I rate Ender's Game a well-deserved 4.5. While the plot was immersive and it was hard to find fault with the book, I didn't use the 5 because I think there are better books out there. However, I still consider this a must-read.

Reviewed by Isaac Kim, Grade 9

Editor's note: The Ender Saga is, as Isaac says, a complex one. The events of the second book take place many years after the events of the first; but if you read the series not in publication order (i.e., when each book was published), but chronologically (in order of the events within the books), it works a lot better! Here is what I mean:

In order of publication:

Ender's Game (1985)
Speaker for the Dead (1986)
Xenocide (1991)
Children of the Mind (1996)
Ender's Shadow (1999) 
Shadow of the Hegemon (2001) 
Shadow Puppets (2002)
First Meetings (2002) 
Shadow of the Giant (2005)
A War of Gifts: An Ender Story (2007)
Ender in Exile (2008)
Shadows in Flight (2012)
Earth Unaware (2012)
Earth Afire (2013)
Earth Awakens (2014, final book in the First Formic War trilogy)

And still to come:

The Swarm
The Hive
The Queens

But if you read them chronologically, in the order in which the entire story takes place:

Earth Unaware
Earth Afire
Earth Awakens
The Swarm
The Hive
The Queens
Ender's Game
Ender's Shadow (Note: The events of Ender's Game and Ender's Shadow take place in roughly the same time period.)
A War of Gifts (Note: This takes place during Ender's Game/Ender's Shadow.)
Shadow of the Hegemon
Shadow Puppets
Shadow of the Giant
Ender in Exile (Note: Beginning takes place during Shadow of the Hegemon and through Shadow of the Giant)
Shadows in Flight
First Meetings (A collection of short stories whose settings range from before Ender's Game until after Shadows in Flight)
Speaker for the Dead
Children of the Mind
Shadows Alive

See what I mean? Here is what Orson Scott Card has to say about it, and here is the Wikipedia commentary on the series.

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