My rating: 3 of 5 stars
Ender’s Game seems to be on the favorites list of everyone who was once a nerdy pre-teen boy. After seeing it on so many such lists, in fact, I decided to investigate. I asked a lot of now-grown men what exactly drew them to Ender’s Game and left such an impression, but I’m still slightly mystified.
I think the appeal may lie in the endless battle sequences, which may certainly appeal to some — girls, even! — but not to me. I found the pacing of the story incredibly slow: all the talk of an all-out war with the buggers, and not a plotline climax to be seen… until the last thirty pages. The book drags on about Ender’s ascent in rank as soldier, with a few twists and turns, and although I suppose the meat of the overall plot is dynamic enough, I personally didn’t feel connected to any of it. I admit that the ending was a shock, but not enough to excuse the previous 200 pages of unsophisticated jumps forward by years within the span of a paragraph, unromantic narrative, and characters who somehow never became real to me.
The video game simulations seemed contrived and irrelevant to me, and the picture of life at the battle school wasn’t vivid enough for me to find it a worthy place to spend the majority of the book. By the end, I felt almost like each character was a different physical representation of the same boring army type — even Valentine, the “soft” sister character.
Pop culture phenomena certainly interest me, and I’m glad to have finally checked this one out. But it didn’t captivate me enough to make me follow through with the rest of the series. Like The Hunger Games, I feel this book could stand alone just fine, and I was much less enchanted by this one than by The Hunger Games.