Book Review: Ender’s Game

Ender’s Game by Orson Scott Card is one of the most popular science fiction novels of the past 20 years. Even today, it sells 100-200,000 copies a year.

I read it in 7th grade and loved it. Everyone loved it. I didn’t know a person under age 20 who hadn’t read Ender’s Game and didn’t like it.

A few days ago I did something I’ve wanted to do for a long time: I re-read a book that I remember liking many years ago. It was a fascinating experience: I still enjoyed Ender’s Game quite a bit, even from my current perspective, but I also saw some specific things that I can now recognize as playing to my fantasies, ego, or whatever.

I’d encourage anyone who likes books to, a) read Ender’s Game, if only to understand a science fiction success story, and b) re-read a book you read 5+ years ago and liked, see if you still like it, and try to understand how you look it differently from your current vantage point.

9 comments on “Book Review: Ender’s Game
  • Ben, this is a huge coincidence. I also read Ender’s Game in 7th grade and loved it, and then a month ago I re-read it again. I love how it’s got the YA-book tone but tackles so many complex issues. And who doesn’t love a great sci-fi story?


    Alexandra Levit
    Author, They Don’t Teach Corporate in College
    Blogger, Water Cooler Wisdom

  • OK, since you asked me what I’d written about it, I went back and thought. I mean, I read Ender’s Game 2-3 years ago, when someone in your class loaned it to me. It really strikes me as an interesting wish-fulfillment fantasy, or maybe a comment on such fantasies. After all, Ender thinks he’s maybe special, and in fact he IS–the savior of the human race. So on one level it’s a basic dream of the nerdy teenage boy in particular who sits around playing videogames: what if “wasting time” was really, really important? At the same time (haven’t read all the sequels, but hear they continue the story well onward in some interesting directions), he essentially commits genocide against another race and feels some guilt for that. So it’s also a comment, I would say, on what a fantasy of such omnipotence might cost in real life. Adding the fact that Orson Scott Card is a Mormon makes the book possibly have another dimension I’m not competent to discuss fully; maybe it’s also some sort of religious parable? Anyway, it’s an interesting book, and certainly involving. Not, at my stage of life, anything I’m interested in reading again.

    But your idea here is a good one, and I’ve done it, too, with other books just to see where I was then and where I am now. Sometimes you see things very, very differently and sort of wonder who it was who read the book the first time.

  • When I was a college librarian, one of my students from Puerto Rico complained because we had a classical CD that was conducted by von Karajan, a known Nazi. Recently, I bought my 7th grade 12-year-old Ender’s Game because I knew he’d like it even though I’ve never read it. He’s now on the third book in the series. I’m not sure I’ll ever get around to reading the book, though, because on the Child Lit email list I was on for awhile, authors I respect condemned Orson Scott Card for his homophobia and extreme right-wing viewpoints. I never got around to listening to that von Karajan CD either. I am so easily influenced against racists. I grew up reading Isaac Asimov; when I read him as an adult, I realized that he greatly influenced my path toward secular humanism. Most worthwhile books, whether War and Peace; Catcher in the Rye; or even Jane Eyre, should probably be re-read every decade or so because we change so drastically. I’m 52, and it occurs to me that I haven’t read War and Peace or Walden since I was 18. It’s time to pick them up again.

  • What a coincidence!

    I’ve been reading recently, and in the last few days I’ve been considering getting Ender’s Game from the library to reread. I too read it last in middle school.

  • Isaac Asimov’s Foundation series definitely does NOT hold up on re-reading, but that may be because I read them in junior high. I likewise found the Fountainhead unreadable despite loving it in high school.

  • I despised Ender’s Game. The writings were far too obvious and even a bit vulger at times. In fact I’d read the obituary section in the paper than endure another round of Ender’s Game!

  • I picked up Ender’s Game 2 weeks ago at my wife’s recommendation. I’m one of the few people in the world who hasn’t read it before. So far, it’s a great book.

  • Ender’s Game is fascinating. Being a big sci-fi/fantasy buff, it was grade school reading material. My favorite of the series is Shadow of the Hegemon. Unfortunately, Orson Scott Card himself has some opinions I radically disagree with.

    I love re-reading books. They’re like old friends, particularly childhood books. I’d pull them out when I was sick, or down, and lose myself in the worlds I loved most. I used to keep a bunch of them on my PDA. It helps that I speedread.

    What I’ve found in re-reading books is that it’s like they have different hyperlinks years later. Words and concepts and different snippets will mean more. So if a book only had a few words in a chapter that were ‘clickable’ when my own understanding of the world was different, years later they’d suddenly have loads of new meaning and more hyperlinks as my own contexts shifted.

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