I just finished Enders Game (quite literally, I just closed the page on my Kindle) and I’m a jumble of feelings and emotions. I very much enjoyed the novel as everyone said I would (several people recently asked me if I had read it when I told them I like to read sci/speculative/dystopian fiction and I had that satisfying moment where I got to say “well, actually I’m reading it right now,”) and by the end I felt a range of different things: moved, uplifted and conflicted. I like it when a book does that: really makes me think about how I feel about it. Some books leave you with a set feeling when they are done. Happy, sad, shocked, whatever. But some bring many different things out and leave you feeling jumbled and require you to take some time to work out how you feel about them.
Ender’s Game. When I started it I had a specific idea of what it was going to be. Kids! Space! Intergalactic Wars! Even though it was all of those things, it was in a vastly different form than I expected. In fact, I found myself wondering, initially, if I was going to like it at all. One thing I found very jarring was the ‘voices’ of the children. I knew the Wiggin kids were supposed to be very smart, but I found myself picturing them to be older than the characters were presented. I saw them in my head as early teens, not 6, 8 and ten as Ender, Valentine and Peter were in the beginning.
I really felt for the character of Ender. His struggle was one that everyone can identify with. Sure, we aren’t all über-genius wunderkinds with the weight of the planet and humanities survival resting on our shoulders, but everyone struggles with trying to be a good person. Despite the games that his innumerable mentors and observers play with him, he still wants to be good. I don’t think his actions allow him to identify or claim ‘goodness’, after all, he’s violent and he plays along with the games even though he knows that the outcome is going to be violence or destruction. But I thought that deep down, Ender’s intent was pure. He wanted so badly to be good, but he couldn’t be. He was bound by a sense of duty to play the game and damn those who were caught in the barrage. It was only in retrospect that he sought to make up for his actions. Hindsight is funny like that.