Thursday, June 6, 2013

Ender's Game - Orson Scott Card

Just like The Hunger Games did last year and Divergent will next year, this year Ender's Game is going to make a big splash at the box office.  As I mentioned in a recent post, I think film adaptations of young adult novels are just beginning their rise.  We have seen a few successful ventures, but I believe the next few years will inundate us with interpretations of all the books that have flooded the market in the past few years.

Of course, Ender's Game did not hit bookstores in the past few years.  It's an oldie, but goodie when it comes to young adult sci-fi literature.  A convincing argument could certainly be made that Orson Scott Card's classic served as an early catalyst for the trends we see now.  Released in 1985, this book initiates an extensive series of books, each exploring a futuristic world in which young children are trained for mankind's war with an alien species.

At its core, Ender's Game gives readers and exciting adventure story laced with a blend of the coming-of-age and unnatural mature emotions of Ender the child.  Ender and his companions all rank far beyond their ages in intelligence, vocabulary, and decision making.  This is a frequent complaint from readers of the book. In fact, Kevin, who is almost done reading it, expressed the same frustration.  While the age of the characters does not align with all aspects of their personalities in my mind, I find that to be part of the science fiction of the book.  Card created a world in which only the cream of the crop make it to the military school.  I find it understandable that these students, thanks to both their natural selection and their odd nurturing before and at the school. would be socially odd by our standards.  Card never gives the reader a chance to forget that Ender and his peers have little in common with students at the turn of our century - but I find that to be a good thing.

Despite isolating his characters from modern readers in this way, Card clearly found something which resonated.  The book has become a classic, even now, nearly thirty years after its original publication.  If it was not still popular and relevant, they would not be making a movie out of it - and certainly not one with so many big names!  (Harrison Ford is playing Colonel Graff!  Excuse me while I indulge my weird celebrity crush on someone nearly three times my age.)

I do have a few opinions of my own to express (when do I not?).  I will do my best to keep the ending intact for those of you who are still unfamiliar with the story.  First of all, while I enjoyed the book and will probably read the sequels at some point, I could not get past the overwhelming feeling of distance I had from the story.  In the end, my cousin pointed out the reason behind this.  Ender's Game is a book for boys.  Girls can enjoy the story, of course, but ultimately, this is a book with which boys resonate and identify with much more strongly.  That observation is not a complaint, just that - an observation.  It just seems like boys connect better with it.  Maybe it's their Anne of Green Gables or something.

The only part of the book I truly struggled with, beyond gender differences, was the ending.  The decisions Ender makes at the end of the book are complex, to say the least.  I cannot say that I love the ending.  I recognize that after a lifetime of being taught to hate and to fight and to be alone, Ender made the right decisions as a person.  Still, the plot ending is not my favorite.  I feel a bit hypocritical even saying that since I am constantly shouting about the important of character development from my soapbox.  Ender's journey contains beautiful character development.  It does not develop in a way which comes across entirely natural, but then again, nothing about Ender is natural, so it fits.

I am excited to see the movie this fall, as are many.  I really did enjoy reading this landmark work of science fiction.  While I could not find as much commonality between its pages and my own story as I would have enjoyed, I fully recognize the value of reading books that do not always fit my mold.  Ender's Game definitely falls in a genre I enjoy, but Card's voice is very different than most of his modern contemporaries I am reading.  Another step in the journey of being a well-rounded reader, I suppose.

Have you read Ender's Game?  What are your thoughts on the ending?  Did you feel the book was more geared toward male readers?  Do you plan on seeing the movie?

Pages: 226
Date Completed: May 15, 2013

No comments:

Post a Comment