Read in Dec 2008
I liked everything about this book, except perhaps the ending. And I can’t even say that I particularly disliked the ending; it just made my soul ache with remorse and regret – for Ender, for humanity, for the buggers.
Ender is six years old when we meet him. He is the third son of the Wiggins and a child genius. Not surprising, consider both of his older siblings are both child prodigies, but with vastly different temperaments. The Wiggins were allowed to have a third child as part of an experiment; an effort to create the best of both of the other siblings and something to could be molded into a perfect military savior.
The world is desperate. Humanity was nearly exterminated by the First Invasion of the buggers. The only reason the Second Invasion failed was done to the quick thinking of one man who realized the essence of bugger strategy and communication. Once he realized the fundamental differences between humans and buggers, his single squadron was able to take down the entire Second Invasion.
But little Ender does not know of the dire peril to the world. His concerns involve school yard bullies, psychotic older brothers and the stigma of being a “Third” child in a two child only society.
The military places Ender in Battle School, where he is trained, isolated and pushed to and beyond breaking. He lives up to his potential and is transferred to Command School two or four years early (I can’t remember which – sorry my memory is faulty today). In Command School, he learns the art of fleet command and is goaded by a nemesis-like teacher – an old man who just happens to be the one who stopped with Second Invasion seventy years earlier.
Ender and his commanders (from Battle School) fight battle after battle against the buggers in a simulator, ultimately culminating in his “final examination” when his fleet reaches the bugger home world. Facing odds wherein his fleet is outnumber a thousand to one, Ender makes the decision to destroy the bugger home world with a nuclear device that causes a chain reaction from the planet to the enemy fleet. Unknown to Ender and his squad commanders at the Command School, the simulator was actually a real-time connection to the human fleet enroute and in orbit around the bugger home planet. The buggers are completely annihilated – xenocide.
So, Ender made the choice that saved humanity. But at a huge cost to himself.
Back on Earth, his siblings have been busy (for years) stirring up trouble and gaining political clout via pseudonyms in cyberspace. Peter, Ender’s older brother, is poised to become a world leader. Valentine, Ender’s sister, wants to escape her brother and also save Ender, so she manages to convince Peter to let Ender be the governor of the first human colony sent out from Earth to occupy one of the former bugger worlds. He agrees, after some convincing by Valentine.
Ender eventually discovers that the nightmares he used to experience back at Battle School and Command School were actually attempts by the buggers to communicate with him, or at least learn enough about Ender to leave him a message. He reads the message and discovers a package left behind for him – the larvae of a bugger queen. The message included the apology from the buggers for they were aghast at what they had done, once they discovered that humans were not a hive, but each individual was a unique being, completely separate from the host consciousness. The buggers communicate mind-to-mind instantaneously across even the vastness of space. They had no vocal cords and no communication equipment aboard their ships. No way to contact or communicate with the humans to discover that they were much more alike than they were different.
Ender writes the buggers’ history and publishes under the name “Speaker of the Dead” and makes it his life mission to find a world where he can deposit the larvae and resurrect the species he was instrumental in destroying.
As I mentioned at the beginning of this review, I loved all of this story. It was fast paced and easy to identify with Ender. Or at least easy for me as a former gifted child myself. For the most part, speaking for myself, I don’t remember being or thinking like a child. For as long as I can remember I have thought as I do now. So it wasn’t unbelievable to me that Ender would think and act the way he did and respond to the situations he was placed in as he did.
The ending just left me feeling extremely sad for all the characters in this story. I shouldn’t be shocked, though, as all conflict could be avoided with open and honest communication. The level of sacrifice evidenced in Ender’s story illustrates the pointlessness of our endeavors when communication is not possible.
GR Status Updates:
|12/02/2008||page 1||0.31%||“Finished the Introduction. By far, the best introduction I’ve read by an author ever. I’ve never had one make me cry before.” 5 comments|
|12/02/2008||page 30||9.26%||“In the middle of chapter 4 – very good so far.”|
|12/02/2008||page 66||20.37%||“Starting chapter 7”|
|12/02/2008||page 97||29.94%||“Starting chapter 8”|
|12/03/2008||page 120||37.04%||“Starting chapter 9”|
|12/03/2008||page 154||47.53%||“Starting Chapter 10”|
|12/03/2008||page 173||53.4%||“Hmm … chapter 11 is called “Vini Vidi Vici” … I can see the writing on the battleroom wall already.”|
|12/03/2008||page 200||61.73%||“I was not surprised by chapter 12 … the chapter title was overly prophetic” 1 comment|
|12/03/2008||page 227||70.06%||“Starting Chapter 13”|
|12/03/2008||page 255||78.7%||“Done for tonight. Will finish this tomorrow (I hope).”|
|12/04/2008||page 324||100.0%||“Finished finally”|