Wednesday, February 3, 2010

Ender Series

Well I'll admit it--I've been putting this one off. This is why: the guy (Orson Scott Card) won a Hugo Award for these books, and there was just a lot that I didn't like about them. And who am I to question his skill? Well, to be honest, I'm not really questioning his skill as much as I'm rebelling against the content of his books. Let me break this down into what I did like and what I didn't.

What I liked:

The first book (Ender's Game) was absolutely amazing. I love books about child prodigies and this one was both exciting and complex.

His intriguing writing style continued throughout all four books, creating a fascinating glimpse of the future.

All of his characters, not just the protagonist, were well-developed and kept me interested.

What I didn't like:

The subject matter changed from a child trying to fight through trial after trial in book one to a "this is why you should convert to humanism" in the remaining books in the series. Don't get me wrong, I don't mind discussions of faith (from atheism to polytheism) in a book, but this was horribly blatant and it was painfully clear that the only "intelligent" characters could possibly grasp the fact that the notion of a living god was just plain silly. Those who did express any faith in anything were plain psycho at worst and childishly naive at best.

The inconsistencies became worse with each book. Little facts didn't blend from one book to another and even by the last book, the inconsistencies started popping up just pages later. It was horribly annoying and it felt like Card expected me to either not have a good enough memory or just to enjoy the ride without thinking about what I was reading. This always leaves a bad taste in my mouth.

The protagonist, Ender, started out as this lovable, honorable kid who you just couldn't help but fall in love with. He did some things by the end of book One that would probably destroy just about anybody. The result was that the character was different and at times, pretty pathetic. It seemed that even Card couldn't stand him and found no way to help him move on from what he'd done, so he devised a way to (spoiler alert!!!) split him into three different people, kill off the original Ender along with one of the copies, and be left with the Ender he had always wanted. And once this was finally accomplished, the series ends abruptly with two happy marriages.

So I read them, and enjoyed them at times, but I'd be cautious about recommending them. The first book shouldn't even be included in the rest of the series, it's so completely different. So let me revise what I said: I would definitely recommend Ender's Game, but any recommendation I might give for the rest would come with a warning.

~Emily White


  1. I wholeheartedly agree with your assessment. Ender's Game was super fabulous for all those reasons you listed and more. Everything about it was great. I'd re-read it any chance I got, but none of the others. I'm all about people having differing opinions, but I saw Scott...sorry Mr. Dragon*Con a few years ago, and some of the rhetoric he was spouting just rubbed me the wrong way. Perhaps it was the forum; we were supposed to be talking about books and he was talking conservative politics for much of the hour. Turned me off. But I'd still read Ender's Game again and again. And I'd see the movie if they ever get around to actually making it.

  2. Jaleh,

    I'll have to check that book out.

    Yeah, Ender was pretty obsessed with his brother and it really didn't make too much sense until you got to the end. And that's a good point, too, that I forgot to mention! Ender's Game definitely does not end the way you think it will. I kept waiting for this awesome battle with the Buggers. It happens, but not in the way you expect. All of a sudden, you're at the end, and you say "ooohh!"

  3. They've definitely been planning the movie, but last I heard it was stalled because of the script. After looking into the issue, I'm glad they stalled. It seems they wanted to make it an amalgamation of Ender's Game and Ender's Shadow. That was annoying, so good!

  4. It will be interesting to see where they do go with the movie. I can see it being done poorly if they don't stay true to the book. As Jaleh pointed out, some may find the storyline boring at first. I only hope that they stick with the ending because it was rather ingenious.

    And of course, they need to find an adequate child actor. I'm having visions of Anakin from Star Wars Episode I *shudder*


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