Book notes: Ender’s Game by Orson Scott Card

Ender’s Game by Orson Scott Card book summary review and key ideas.

Ender’s Game by Orson Scott Card

Synopsis:

“Now a Major Motion Picture. The war with the Buggers has been raging for a hundred years, and the quest for the perfect general has been underway for almost as long. Enter Andrew “Ender” Wiggin, the result of decades of genetic experimentation.

Is Ender the general Earth so desperately needs? The only way to find out is to throw him into ever-harsher training at Battle School, to chip away and find the diamond inside, or destroy him utterly. Ender Wiggin is six years old when his training begins. He will grow up fast.

But Ender is not the only result of the experiment. His two older siblings, Peter and Valentine, are every bit as unusual as he is, but in very different ways. Among the three of them lie the abilities to remake a world. If, that is, the world survives.” -Audible

Opening thoughts:

This book was recommended to me by a friend that also loves reading and heard that I’ve been recently getting into fiction books. Because of his recommendation and my new quota of reading at least one fiction book per set, I thought this would be a great choice for this month.

Key notes:

  • The commander set Ender up as the best of all the trainees
    • He made it so that Ender has to be so good they can’t ignore him and earn their respectThe commander was forcing him to become a leader in order to survive
  • He thanked Peter for allowing him to learn how to weep silently, have dry eyes, and put on a mask to hide his pain and sorrow
  • Each time Ender accomplished a challenge set by the commanders, they would give him another impossible challenge to complete
  • He made another friend with the outcast girl Petra in Salamander Army
  • Ender disobeyed orders finally and helped his team not lose the battle in a draw
  • Ender got reassigned to Rat Army but was still practicing what he learned and his own tactics with the launch group 
  • Peter and Valentine were having a deep discussion about global politics and war due to his insights in army mobilization of the Russians
    • And he and Valentine are only 10 and 12 years old, yet are so intelligent to be able to make these deductions and discuss the ramifications
  • Peter could always see what others hated about themselves and bully them, whereas Valentine could see what other people loved about themselves and flatter them
    • This allowed her to persuade them to her way of thinking
  • Peter noted that there are times when the world is in flux and the right voice in the right place can move the world

Reader’s note: Wow, it’s a trip how smart these kids are and how on guard they are for manipulating each other. It’s such a power trip and struggle between them. Also, I think valentine, or “Val”, is a good name for a girl, especially named after this character who is intelligent and compassionate.

  • At the age of nine, Ender was a tomb leader in the Phoenix army with Petra as his commander
  • By now he was still first in the rankings and commanded enormous respect from other commanders, leaders, and even teachers
  • Ender confided in Bean his awareness
    • He also made him a leader of an elite special squad
  • In four weeks, his army of 40 is all in the top 50 and all veterans
    • Any of them could be tomb leaders in any other army
  • They remained undefeated and very tired playing a game almost every day for 4 weeks, but they were proud
    • Trust and moral was high within the army
  • Dragon Army beat two armies at the same time, but then they changed the rules again and they took Ender’s army apart
  • They graduated Ender to command school
    • The officers also chatted to themselves and revealed to the reader that Bonzo actually died but they didn’t tell Ender
  • He and Valentine finally reunited in person after 4 years
    • He told her that he’s really good at understanding his enemy and how they think so that he can beat them
    • He said that in the moment that he understands his enemy well enough to defeat him, he will also love him
    • In the moment he understands them and loves them, he also beats them
  • Graph brought Ender to that lake house in order for him to fall in love with the Earth and remember why he was training to be a commander
    • He also used Valentine, but it only worked because their connection is real 
  • Unlike Peter, Ender never sought power, but he’d always had it
    • But he decided it was a power born of excellence, not manipulation
  • The old man said there is no teacher but the enemy
    • No one but the enemy will teach you what the enemy is going to do
    • No one but the enemy will teach you how to destroy and conquer
    • Only the enemy shows you where are you are weak and tells you where he is strong
  • He found out that his old team was there in command school with him being trained
  • After training together, the leaders developed strong trust with Ender and vice versa
  • Ender’s squad had an advantage because he had individual minds that could improvise and react differently compared to a bugger hive-mind that can only focus on one thing at a time
  • Ender and his army found out they were actually commanding the forces and they beat the buggers
    • Ender passed out for about a day and it was almost a mutiny because war was breaking out at homeHe rejoiced with his fellow officers and was so relieved to see them finally
  • Valentine was excited because Ender agreed to come with her to the new colony and be governor
  • Ender wrote two books called The Hive Queen and The Hegemon in honor of the buggers and Peter after he died
    • Both became secret religious text
  • Chapter 1 of shadows in flight follows

Reader’s note: I love how the author is talking about the theme of the book being that one of the lessons Ender learns that applies to all kids is that parents won’t always be there to bail you out, and that you’ll have to learn to make your own decisions and live with the consequences.

Main ideas / Themes:

  • Challenges are what make you stronger – Whether it be from growing up with a wicked older brother like Peter or being given impossible challenges and handicaps from the adults in the training academy, each hardship made Ender grow stronger. Every time he made the decision to keep growing and not give up, he also set himself on the path to becoming the greatest there has ever been.
  • Power born of excellence, not manipulation – This is showcased by the stark contrast between the power Ender gained and the power Peter gained by the end of the story. In the end, Ender’s army and commanders trusted him and followed him no matter what because they believed in his abilities. Even when the odds were heavily stacked against them, trust and moral stayed high within Dragon Army.
  • To know your enemy is to love your enemy, but also the ability to defeat them – Throughout his journey, Ender learns that his ability to defeat his enemy comes from his ability to understand and empathize with them. Unlike Peter, he has a capacity to love and care for others. This same characteristic also allows him to more fully defeat his enemy.

Closing thoughts:

This was such a great book and a great sci-fi recommendation from a fellow book reader. I remember watching the movie and being very impressed by the storyline and characters. However, like most fiction books I’ve read that have become movies, the books go into a level of detail that create more of an immersive experience.

I rewatched the movie after finishing the book, and it was just as good as I remembered. I did notice where they made the changes in order to fit the story for the big screen. For the most part, the changes were totally understandable and necessary, but still kept the heart of the story in tact.

That being said, any fans of the movie MUST read the book to get the rich details of Ender’s journey through battle school and the trails he faces to save humanity.

One Takeaway / Putting into practice:

The one takeaway that I think is most applicable to me would be:

  • Embrace the challenges as necessary prerequisites to growth

There are many times when I, like other normal people, want to avoid the pain that comes with the challenges that come up in life. However, I have to see these as opportunities and necessary means to grow and improve myself.

Nutshell:

Prodigy child Ender is sent to Battle School in space in order to prepare for the war agains the alien species that threatens to wipe out the human race.

Rating:

4/5

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