|Orson Scott Card: Ender's Game|
A Tom Doherty Associates Book (Paperback): ISBN 0-765-34229-4
When the International Fleet (I.F.) must choose super-intelligent children to train as leaders in a war against an alien force called the "buggers," they pass over the two eldest (intelligent, but flawed) Wiggins children -- Peter and Valentine -- in favor of six-year old Andrew (Ender), the third child. Since the world of Ender's birth tries to limit families to two children and looks down upon "thirds," Ender's parents do little to stop Ender from going off for what may be the rest of his life.
While Ender undergoes the difficult training methods for potential leaders, Valentine mourns his absence in an almost un-sisterly way. Peter, a demented child who tortures small animals and his siblings, still distraught over the fact that the I.F. chose Ender over him -- a first! -- plots to control the world from a computer screen.
As a result of the rigors of training, Ender suffers seclusion, alienation, humiliation and both emotional and physical hardships. All of this torture comes in the form of a series of video game battles -- which will certainly delight male video game enthusiasts. However, it soon becomes unclear as to what is part of the game and what isn't, which adds to Ender's plight.
While the premises of the book -- a galaxy war between humans and insects led by a "queen" -- may seem intriguing to science fiction lovers, the bulk of the book proves emotionally draining. Most of the narrative focuses on young Ender's unending call to battle, his violent anger (which likens him to his brother Peter), the physical and emotional torments he suffers and his brother's plot to control the political world.
In summary, this well-written, but heavy book defies a normal rating system. Guys can add a gender-based star; guys who love the world of video games may even want to add two.
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