Warning: This review will have spoilers so beware.
Title: Ender's Game.
Author: Orson Scott Card.
Synopsis: Six-year-old Ender Wiggin in brought away to battle school, where he will train to become a soldier, to fight in the horrible bugger war. (That's dry-sounding... I know. But I'm tired and can't come up with anything better.)
My rating: 7/10.
The bad/what you should know: The whole first half of the book is, shall we say, interesting in some parts. In the first chapter Ender (who is six) beats up a boy who was teasing him.
When Ender gets up to battle school (which is above earth, in orbit, I believe), he finds that all the boys (and the few girls that are at battle school) walk around naked when not training or doing battle.
As well as a bunch of swear words (mostly the d and h words), there is a bunch of slang used (balls and piss are used a LOT!).
At one point it is said that a boy's genitals are displayed on a screen.
In the second half, there are still swear words but the slang is greatly diminished.
Ender beats up another person in self defense.
None of the above is described in detail (except maybe the beatings).
This whole book is filled with disturbing principles - like child-soldiers and taking over the world and telling your brother you want to kill him.
The good/what I liked: Wow. This book was REALLY well done. I am flabbergasted that someone can write as well as Orson Scott Card. I don't know how he did it, but he emotionally invested me into Ender's life. Perhaps it was the fact that, at six years old, everyone basically hates him for being the third child (in the future only two children are allowed, unless the government orders another child). Because of this, Ender decides to accept the offer to go up to battle school in the stars. There, everyone hates him too. The teachers have purposefully isolated him from the other students (by making him the object of teasing) so bring out his full potential, because they believe that he is earth's only hope. They believe that he will destroy the buggers, advanced aliens that had invaded earth two previous times.
Oh yes, and did I mention that Ender is genetically enhanced, making him very very smart, even at six years old?
The little children in this book act like adults, training and fighting wars, and planning to take over countries.
Orson Scott Card makes us sympathize with Ender. We are allowed to see secret conversations that Ender's teachers have. They talk about isolating him and breaking him so that his full potential will be reached. It's heart wrenching, because he's just a kid. But also, we sympathize with Ender because he doesn't want to be a killer. His older brother Peter is a ruthless child who skins squirrels and watches them die. He has threatened to kill Ender more than once. Ender doesn't want to be like that, yet he sees himself becoming that. He hates himself for beating up Stilson - but at the same time, Ender didn't want Stilson hurting him.
Gah, the writing was so amazing. You really feel like you're hovering, invisible, next to Ender, watching his every move.
Then there were the plot twists. Not only do we see Ender and the teachers talking about Ender, we get to see Ender's brother and sister on earth, plotting to take over the world. They are also genetically advanced, so, at 11 and 13, Peter and Valentine create fake IDs and go onto the political forums and start writing political papers with radical ideas. Slowly the world comes around to their ideas, not knowing that they come from two kids. Those parts were brilliant.
And the plot twist at the end! Wow! And the actual ending. That was kind of cool. Like, really.
I'm still reeling from the amazingness of the writing of this book. I've tried to do a comprehensive review, but I don't think I can do the book justice until I read it a couple more times.
Would I recommend this book? Yes, to a certain audience. Certainly not to children. I would say that you should be at least fourteen, if not fifteen or sixteen to read this book. And maybe not even then. This book is for mature readers who are able to handle the ideas this book throws at you (not to mention the swearing). If that's you, up there, and you like science fiction and amazingness and concepts that need thinking about, then go read this book!
Will I read this book again/closing thoughts: I don't know if I will read this book again. Probably someday, because I think it's a fantastically well-executed and well-written book. I am not, however, looking forward to reading those swear/slang words. Bleh. That was the worst for me. I hate reading swear words; it's different than hearing them spoken.
Live long and prosper.