Ender’s Game is a terrific science fiction novel, but it should and does have a much wider appeal. You could put it in a general literature category and it would still be highly ranked.
It is the story of a boy in the future who must train to be the commander of a force that will save humanity. After being attacked by aliens (known as buggers) and barely surviving the attack, the military of Earth are planning to prevent a second wave by sending forces to the bugger home world to destroy them.
Ender Wiggins is recruited at the age of six and goes through a grueling battle school in orbit of Earth, learning to develop new strategies and techniques to defeat the enemy. The school is set up as a series of games that the initiates play together. They are both brutal and instructive—and Ender prospers, growing from outcast to commander of his own group. What sets him apart is his ability to think outside the box and develop new strategies. It is thoroughly engrossing as Ender moves from one level to another, fighting his psychological programming as he puts together his own army, built on his own unique approach.
Larger issues, especially government manipulation of individuals for its specific agenda, are dealt with in stunning detail. A second manipulation takes place as the author maneuvers his readers into rooting for a boy who is manipulated into becoming a mass murderer without even realizing that he is killing billions.
Winner of both the Hugo and Nebula Awards for Science Fiction, it raises more questions than it answers, but sometimes that’s what great works of art do—bring you into the conversation, but allow you to find your own answers. If you are looking for a book to really make you think, this would be it. And that, in the end is partly what makes great science fiction.
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