Orson Scott Card

Audiobook – Ender’s Game

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Ender’s Game was originally written as a novella, then expanded as a novel to allow Orson Scott Card to introduce his Speaker of the Dead books.  Ender Wiggin is a six year-old genius shipped off to Battle School, where he and other children are trained in anticipation for the next attack by aliens known as Buggers.  Ender garners the attention of his new teachers quickly and soon outshines the other children in Battle School.  Ender’s Game follows him as he moves up in Battle School and learns to be a young commander, with the action culminating at Ender’s tender age of twelve.

I made no secret that it was hard for me to finish Ender’s Game.  I only picked up the book in the first place because of the upcoming movie, and I wanted to read the book before I were to go see the film (reading the book first, however late to the game I am, allows me to be unjustly upset when they change key plot points.  I have faults.  I know).  The book sat unfinished on my iPod for several months, as I worked up the courage to continue with the onslaught of hopelessness and witnessing a young child beaten down by responsibilities far beyond his years.

I cannot deny that Orson Scott Card really is a masterful writer; you care about Ender and Valentine from the beginning, and you feel so against all that happens to both of them because Card makes you care.  That being said, it is incredibly difficult, knowing that the children are so very young, to read how many hardships each face.  I kept asking myself if Col. Graff would ever allow Ender to just be a child, if the torture was going to end any time soon. The fact that Ender just never spoke like a child either was more than a bit disconcerting for a girl that believes in children being children.

One of the responses I got from a friend about finishing the book was that she felt more adult at a young age because she was intelligent.  While I can see that Ender, burdened with great intelligence, would not feel like a child either, the book does make you wonder how far we should push our true prodigies just to gain an end.  Think of those in history like Mozart, a boy denied a childhood by his father because of his gift and who suffered greatly for that loss.  Ender himself ends the book by telling Valentine he would like to move on from the world they have built with the colonists simply because he has not known a life without pain.  That he was so used to pain he had to now seek it out.  There is perhaps no line more tragic than that.  When you couple that with the fact that *SPOILER* the buggers never planned on attacking Earth again, and Ender’s entire mission was therefore unnecessary, what does Card want us to take away from the story?  (This is a major portion of the plot that if they remove from the movie will make the entire main question collapse, in my opinion.)

I am  no fan of SciFi, but I found that Card does not overload his story with the nuts and bolts.  Instead Card gives you just enough to grasp the futuristic pieces of his world, but not enough to overload those in his audience who could care less about the details.  This combined with the more hopeful nature of how Ender’s Game ends makes me almost want to read more in the series.  Almost.  While he might torture his main characters, Card sure does know how to pull you in and make you invested in his creations.

Overall, technically a great book, but not my particular cup of tea.

Rating: 7/10

Audibook: 8/10

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Ender’s Game – A Plea

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I need help.  I started listening to the audiobook version of Ender’s Game awhile ago, and I have stalled.  For those that have read it, I have barely met Mazer Rackham and just have learned Ender’s Battle School friends are with him on whatever that planet is called.

Here’s my question – do I keep reading/listening?

I have gotten so bogged down in the depressing pieces that I have found it hard to pick back up.

I was discussing the book with a friend of mine (who recommends I finish it), and I was explaining that the big reason I have a problem with the book is that Ender isn’t really a child.  He’s so young when the book starts, and by the point I am at, he has murdered two classmates, had the weight of the world placed on his shoulders, and been continuously ripped from anything he comes to love by Col. Graff.  Ender does not speak like a child nor is he allowed a childhood.

I love Young Adult and books like Peter Pan because I a firm believer that children should experience a childhood.  So reading a book that has prematurely aged not one but several children is just so hard to take.

My question for you is, do I finish?  Do I wait for the movie to be released and just watch that?  And did you have the same problems when you read Orson Scott Card‘s most famous novel the first time, too?  Please discuss in the comments below!

(You can argue with me about Hunger Games or any of Carol’s books not allowing the characters to have childhoods, but because those characters are older than SIX YEARS OLD, it’s a lot easier to take.  Also, they have a tinge of hope for something better, where I just have never gotten that impression with Ender.)

Enchantment – Orson Scott Card

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Enchantment titleTen year-old Ivan and his parents are trying to leave their native Ukraine.  While they wait for exit visas to come through, they visit their cousin Marek in the country.  While there, Ivan runs through a neighboring forest and comes to a clearing where a beautiful young woman sleeps upon a stone bed in the middle of a pit.  Ivan feels something for the woman, but cannot see how to cross the pit and leaves to return to Marek’s house.  The next day, he and his parents make the long journey to America, where Ivan grows up and follows his father into Russian literature academia, including learning an ancient Russian dialect.  Ivan gets engaged to a girl named Ruth, but then travels to Ukraine for an extended research trip.  While there, he decides to visit cousin Marek and once again finds the clearing.  He manages to jump across the pit, best a bear, and kiss the maiden awake.  That’s when his adventures begin.

This was another audiobook, and my first Orson Scott Card novel. My friend Heather actually suggested it as a gateway to Card, and it was a wonderful entrant.  The book was so, ahem, enchanting that I would have a hard time switching it off when I arrived at my destinations.  The book is narrated from a variety of viewpoints, though mostly from Ivan and Princess Katerina.  Their hesitant love was touching and believable, and especially frustrating when you as a reader could see how much they cared even if they were too stubborn to admit it.

As far as fairy tales go, this was my favorite retelling so far.  There were modern and historic elements to the novel, and remarkably they all tied together wonderfully.  (I used a lot of adjectives there, don’t kill me!)

The audiobook itself was narrated by both a male and female narrator, to account for the switching viewpoints’ genders.  It was a little weird to hear the same actor used for the villain (Baba Yaga), Ivan’s mom, and Katerina, but the voice actress did a good job making them sound a bit distinct.  Mostly I loved that the actors were either Russian or at least sounded Russian.  It brought a lot of realism to the narrators, and it provides that ambiance that you wouldn’t find with an American voice actor.

If you’re looking for a fairy tale re-telling or simply an enchanting story, I honestly could not recommend this more highly.  I will most definitely be reading/listening to it again.

Rating: 10/10
Audiobook Rating: 10/10