This is one of my absolute favorite books. I still remember when I first read it as a teenager- a youth-group leader from my church named Patty gave me a copy. I was hooked right from the beginning. Card’s easy, precise prose and realistic dialog make the book vivid and quick to read. And the story is like nothing I’d read before at the time.
In Ender’s Game, Earth has faced previous invasions of an alien species, and is preparing for another possible attack. The government has selectively bred geniuses, hoping for a child prodigy that can be trained to command Earth’s armies against the aliens. Andrew Wiggin (nicknamed Ender) is one of their best results. He is sent to “Battle School” in a space station at the age of six years old, where selected children are trained for future intergalactic warfare. Among the most skilled and intelligent, Ender faces enormous pressure to succeed, and pushes himself to the limits. He also faces alienation and bullying from the other children, fears of the coming alien invasion, and doubts about what the government’s real intentions are for him.
In all of the fiction I’ve read, it’s hard to find a more lonely and distressed kid than Ender, who has a good heart and yet can’t help doing things he regrets. Even his siblings are engaged in rivalry with him- for they’re just as smart and have their own ideas and plans about the future of Earth. If they work together, they just could possibly save the world, even though they’re only kids. Card makes it pretty believable. I feel like this book really transcends its genre; even if you don’t really like sci-fi, there’s a good chance you’ll like this one. It’s a lot about human dynamics and destiny; the manipulation and control of one very precocious child’s life.
This book won the Hugo and Nebula Awards for fiction in 1985 and 1986.