Ender’s Game by Orson Scott Card
Summary: Outnumbered and with inferior technology, the human race has won two wars against the aliens they call the buggers. They fear the Third Invasion, however, and will not trust to luck to save them again. Instead, they scour the Earth for the child who can lead them to victory. Ender Wiggin possesses the qualities necessary to make him a formidable general. To that end, the government places him in Battle School to train him for the upcoming war. The race, however, is running out of time and Ender may not be ready to fight when the war comes.
Review: The words “science fiction” can conjure up images of advanced technology, strange worlds, and unfamiliar peoples—distancing images that often repel readers uninitiated into the genre. Science fiction, however, is not about the cool gizmos and the shiny gadgets; science fiction is about what it means to be human, no matter what time or place. By juxtaposing humanity with the intrinsically unhuman, science fiction writers make readers question the qualities that set them apart from the rest of the universe and that make them their best selves.
Ender’s Game addresses these questions by depicting the lengths to which humans will go to preserve themselves—even if it means losing their sense of moral dignity. The necessity of preparing for battle consumes the adults, who use children as pawns in the war effort. They force children into situations that demand the children lose their innocence and their instinct to make peace. Card simultaneously comments on the degradation of the human spirit in times of fear and of the continual powerlessness of children in society, uniting both in a common theme of the cyclical nature of history. In the end, the book poses the question of whether or not humans can ultimately change and break the cycle of violence.
In addressing these concerns common to all people, Card’s book speaks to the heart with rare power. Any person who has witnessed the savagery generated by fear; who has experienced the impossible choice of survival or morality; who has ever felt degraded, trapped, or powerless will identify with Card’s characters. In doing so, readers enter into a common humanity where they are free from judgment and free from judging. Through the eyes of a child, they come to understand both themselves and others better. Everyone longs to be understood. Card grants a certain peace to his readers by assuring them that he and all those who have read his book, do.