Ender’s Game series: Orson Scott Card

Ender’s Game Series by Orson Scott Card

 First Meetings EndersGame A War of Gifts Ender in Exile  Speaker for the Dead Xenocide Children of the Mind

I have spent the last several months reading the Ender’s series by Orson Scott Card.

I have also given much thought on how to approach my review of this series. If you have been following my blog, you by now know that it was Ender’s Game (Movie) that got me to start this blog up, and that my first reading of Ender’s Game was memorable in a bad way.  After reading the books shown above (currently 27% into Children of the Mind), I am finding my mind has not really been changed in some ways, and in others, I find myself with a very different point of view. It’s hard to put aside 20 years of history and write a good review. This being said I will do my best. My thoughts are:

I don’t remember when I first read Ender’s Game I will say that it was most likely sometime in the range of 1993 to 1995. I do know, that by the time I finished the book, I had decided that I would never again read any book written by Orson Scott Card (OSC). I was disgusted by the book. The lack of discipline when Ender screwed up, the lack of correction for situations where he made bad decisions, enforced by adults who abused him when they refused to step in and intervene, all in the name of ‘saving mankind’ sickened me. In addition the fact that the book was written by a Mormon (which I happen to be one), boggled me. What LDS Author could find this type of behavior acceptable, even laudable, and desirable, all in the name of saving humanity was something that at that time I couldn’t fathom.

Skip ahead approximately 20 years. Ender’s Game is now a major motion picture. Against all odds I decided to see the movie. I went in knowing that I had issues with the story. Hollywood did a masterful job with creating a movie that follows Ender. Any of the side stories of Peter & Valentine are only seen through Ender’s Eyes (those of a 6-9 year old child) and only for short, subjective to his point of view of who they are, periods of time. To Ender, Peter is pure evil and Valentine is an angel incarnate. There is only black & white, no grey. This actually comes up quite a bit more in Children of the Mind after Ender creates a new Peter and new Valentine.

I guarantee that if you asked my 5 year old nephew at the right time, he would tell you that I am a monster and that he is sure I hate him. Wait 10 minutes, and Auntie Heidi is the sweetest person in the whole world, and I’m an amazing Auntie who buys him snacks at the gas station on the way home from daycare.  At the same time, his older brother and sister respectively 12 and 10, can be evil when they don’t let him play or don’t play the way he wants to, or great if they play what he wants to. In the eyes of a young child, the situation changes every 5 to 10 minutes, and genius or not, they see the world with few absolutes, and the absolutes they do hold are those that don’t change and are based off consistent behaviors.

Another thing that has changes is that I now also have access to the internet. I am able to research the essays, and counter essays into the reasons behind the book. I know that OSC says he wrote this book to encourage dialogue, and to show the evils in this world. I have read several essays based off the book, some written more recently, and some at the time the novelette was re-released as a book. Some believe the book was written by OSC to exonerate Hitler and his actions during WWII. Others disagree with this, and feel that OSC tried to make an innocent killer who could cause guiltless genocide. Yet others praise OSC for his morality, and that he is willing to look the worst of the world in the eyes and shame them.Return to Ender’s game.  With the advent of the internet, I am able to explore numerous reviews and essays in response to Ender’s Game. I still have my issues with my initial read throug; however in re-reading the book, I have found myself with even more insights and issues. They are as follows:

1. The author’s blatant in your face ‘it’s not his fault’ rhetoric every time a situation occurred where Ender went too far.

There is always a choice that is made, and Ender always chose the path that was most brutal. Deep down he knew it, yet no one took the time to take him aside to show a better way. When they should have intervened after the first of these situations, they stood passively by as he essentially enrolled in karate to be able to better ‘protect’ himself. This only made him more deadly with the next encounter.
This leads me into issue #2
2. Ender’s Parents are BAD Parents.
Ender’s parents avoided correction in all of their children. After Ender came home without his monitor, they knew he had been in a fight, and that the other child had died, yet they refused to confront their child with any type of correction. They instead treated him with pity for having ‘failed out’. Having been raised Mormon and Catholic they knew it was morally if not socially wrong, and the book states that even though they had renounced their former religions, that they still held to them. They had to have known they were wrong. They blatantly ignored the faults of their children, in Peter, Valentine and Andrew. I am sure they had been called several times about Peter’s bullying at school, as through out the parts you see Peter, he goes to great lengths to not get caught, not that he cared if his parents knew, but he wanted others outside the family to see him as a good guy. To top this off they go so far as to manipulate their children into keeping Ender from coming home at all after the formic wars all in the name of doing what they is best for him (keeping him away from Peter), while never assuming that having parents may be what he needs most. As smart as these parent’s were made out to be, and as observant as John Paul was purported by Orson Scott Card, they were awful parents.

3. Even after Mazer knew Ender had a better grasp on world events than he at first gave Ender credit for, he still refused to really discuss Ender’s actions, nor try to step in as a parent figure and offer advice on how he could change or make a difference. He could see Ender reaching out for a parent, and he instead allows Ender to feel as he has nothing further to offer, save what he has already done. The roll of Parent to Ender is instead left to his sister Valentine, who really needs to be his sister, and not his parent.

4. As Ender grows older, he is not let off the proverbial apron strings. It is not until Valentine is married, and pregnant that Ender finally goes out on his own, but by this time he has his conscience Jane to influence his decisions. He is so tied to his pacifier that it isn’t until he removes it that he determines that he has almost ruined his marriage for infidelity (be it to his electronic mistress). It isn’t until Children of the Mind that he truly makes any decisions, and then the ones he makes are for the marriage he has found he values. He stops doing what he feels is expected of him, and does what will make him happy.

Overall I will give the series 3.5 stars because I loved many of the short stories, and much of Ender in Exile as well as Children of the Mind. It loses points for Speaker and Xenocide being so difficult to get through.

3 and a half stars

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Filed under Abusive, Author: Orson Scott Card, Book, Common Sence, Compassion, Faith, Hope, Humanity, Loyalty, Morality

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