There are a few books that all sorts of people will recommend to me over and over again and for some reason I take forever to get around to reading them. Ender’s Game by Orson Scott Card is one of those books. This changed recently when a friend followed up saying “You should read Ender’s Game.” with “Here’s my copy, you can borrow it.” That’s a true friend if I ever heard of one. So it sat on top of my “to read” stack of books by my bed for about a week before I finally picked it up thinking it would be nice to read a few chapters before bed. I stayed up almost all night. Not my wisest choice, but one I stand by as it was for the very worthy cause of needing to know what happens next. Ender’s Game was an entertaining story and as Orson Scott Card points out in his introduction it can be read and enjoyed without worrying about “All the layers of meaning there are to be decoded”. The layers are there, however, if you wish to have a think about it.
The part of Orson Scott Card’s introduction that really stuck with me throughout my time reading Ender’s Game was when he discussed why some people really hate this book. Apparently he’s gotten letters in which people take issue with this story because of the way Ender, the main character, speaks and thinks. They insist that children don’t think like that. Orson Scott Card had the perfect rebuttal saying, “never in my entire childhood did I feel like a child. I felt like a person all along – the same person that I am today.” This is totally true. It’s only ever in retrospect that we say we were acting or thinking like children. In the moment we are acting and thinking like anybody else would.
I very recently had a conversation with someone that reminded me of this. A friend that is about ten years older than me mentioned that five years ago, when we first met, I was young, but now I’m old. I laughed. “I was five years younger, in fact.” was my very witty, if I do say so myself, response. I can’t separate how I felt and thought then from how I feel and think now. I recognize that some of the actions I took and choices I made, maybe wouldn’t be the same, but I don’t feel five years older. The inner monologue changes so slightly and over such a long period of time that it’s impossible to notice the change if you hear it everyday. In Ender’s Game we have the privilege of hearing parts of Ender’s inner monologue and also stay far enough removed to notice and appreciate how he got older and what changes that entailed.
Orson Scott Card made Ender a real person that I could empathize with and relate to. I found myself imagining myself in his situations and wondering what I would’ve done. Every once in a while I’d be reminded that he’s only six or only nine but that didn’t bring me out of the story. It just reminded me that while I may have a better grasp on the English language or how to get a job than the average six year old or nine year old ultimately, no matter our age, we all experience the same emotions with slightly different world views. If anything, how young Ender is in this book made it a more pure depiction of what he was thinking and feeling because he didn’t have quite so many years of people telling him what to think and feel muddling his emotions.
I’d recommend this to anyone, but if you’re like me and are apt to get sucked into a book it’d be wise to start earlier in the day. The story grabs you and sweeps you along until your questions are answered and you’re left wondering how it got to be one in the morning.