Ender’s Game by Orson Scott Card

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Ender’s Game by Orson Scott Card ISBN: 978-0812550702, Tor Science Fiction (July 15, 1994)

Plot Summary:

Set in a not so distant future, humanity is embroiled in wars between the three dominant blocks of power: the Hegemon, the Polemarch and the Strategos, when contact with an alien race of insect like beings, which humans name the Formic, erupts into war. Humans put aside their differences and create the International Fleet, or IF, in order to combat the alien threat. The Formic possess more sophisticated technology than humans, but curiously seem to lack any means to communicate. Alien prisoners that are captured simply die. Humanity seems to be on its way to extinction when one man, Mazer Racham, is able to lead the humans to a victory that no one really seems to understand. The Formic are defeated and pushed back into their own space. Many decades later, the IF is in search of tactical genius to lead them against the Formic in an anticipated “third invasion.” 

Critical Evaluation: 

Andrew Wiggin’s parents were not expecting to give birth to tactical geniuses, but after both older siblings are tested, the International Fleet requests that the couple have an unheard of “third child.” Both Peter and Valentine, the older siblings, are geniuses, but Peter, a budding sociopath, lacks the compassion that is needed to understand the enemy, and Valentine displays too much compassion. Ender combines the traits of both compassion and ruthlessness, and after he seriously injures another boy in order to obtain a lasting victory against the bully, Colonel Graff decides to take him to Battle School, an installation that orbits the Earth. In Battle School, highly intelligent children are trained in battle strategy and form platoons that are led by the most talented of their number. The school administration employs ruthless techniques in order to prepare the students, but Ender knows that if he wants to survive, he must be the best. The hopes of an entire world are riding on his shoulders.

Information about the author:

Orson Scott Card is best known for his science fiction novel Ender’s Game and it’s many sequels that expand the Ender Universe into the far future and the near past.  Those books are organized into the Ender Quintet, the five books that chronicle the life of Ender Wiggin; the Shadow Series, that follows on the novel Ender’s Shadow and are set on Earth; and the Formic Wars series, written with co-author Aaron Johnston, that tells of the terrible first contact between humans and the alien “Buggers”.
Card has been a working writer since the 1970s.   Beginning with dozens of plays and musical comedies produced in the 1960s and 70s, Card’s first published fiction appeared in 1977 — the short story “Gert Fram” in the July issue of The Ensign, and the novelet version of “Ender’s Game” in the August issue of Analog.
 
The novel-length version of Ender’s Game, published in 1984 and continuously in print since then, became the basis of  the 2013 film, starring Asa Butterfield, Harrison Ford, Ben Kingsley, Hailee Steinfeld, Viola Davis, and Abigail Breslin.
 
Card was born in Washington state,  and grew up in California, Arizona, and Utah. He served a mission for the LDS Church in Brazil in the early 1970s. Besides his writing, he runs occasional writers’ workshops and directs plays. He frequently teaches writing and literature courses at Southern Virginia University.
He is the author many sf and fantasy novels, including the American frontier fantasy series “The Tales of Alvin Maker” (beginning with Seventh Son), There are also stand-alone science fiction and fantasy novels like Pastwatch and Hart’s Hope. He has collaborated with his daughter Emily Card on a manga series, Laddertop. He has also written contemporary thrillers like Empire and historical novels like the monumental Saints and the religious novels Sarah and Rachel and Leah. Card’s recent work includes the Mithermages books (Lost GateGate Thief), contemporary magical fantasy for readers both young and old.   
Card lives in Greensboro, North Carolina, with his wife, Kristine Allen Card,  He and Kristine are the parents of five children and several grandchildren.

Reader’s Annotation:

Andrew Wiggin’s parents were not expecting to give birth to tactical geniuses, but after both older siblings are tested, the International Fleet requests that the couple have an unheard of “third child.” Six year old Andrew “Ender” Wiggin may be humanity’s last hope against an alien race, but first Ender must survive battle school.

Genre:

Science fiction.

Curriculum Ties:

Great historical leaders, dictators and military battles

Booktalking Ideas:

Do the ends ever justify the means?

Reading Level/Interest Age:

Grades 7 and up

Challenge Issues:

Violence. 

I would make sure that all material was purchased in accordance with my library’s collection development policy and make sure to keep a file containing positive reviews for books that I thought might be challenged. In the event of a challenge, I would actively listen to the parent’s concern and ask if they had read the book. I would then explain why the book had been added to the collection and provide with the reviews and a copy of the collection development policy. I would affirm that they are within their rights to limit what their children read, but that other parents also have the right to determine what their children can read. If all else failed, I would provide the parent with a reconsideration form.

Reasons for inclusion:

This book was a Hugo and Nebula Award winner. The movie is due to be released later this year.

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