Sunday, July 26, 2009

Ender's Game, a review

Ender's Game (Ender's Saga, Book 1) Ender's Game by Orson Scott Card

My rating: 4 of 5 stars
Maybe it's because he's Mormon and I'm Mormon also, but anything I read by Orson Scott Card is ultimately about religion to me.

Ender's Game is no different, and so I cannot read it without comparing Card with another author who (at least in my mind) writes solely about religion: C. S. Lewis. Put briefly Lewis is the most comforting author I've ever read. Card is the most disturbing.

The thing that bothers me so much about Card is that he understands too well the darkest parts of humanity: the lust of the megalomanic, the pleasures of the sadist (and from a short story of Card's not related to Ender's Game the motives of the incestuous). In short, Card's mind is not a pleasant place to be.

Lewis on the other hand, even when walking me through the intricate workings of Hell, makes me feel as if I'm seated with him in an easy chair in a cozy English cottage. "Yes, Jack. I see exactly what you're saying. I feel the same way too."

I don't dare admit even to myself that I've thought the thoughts or felt the feelings that Card writes about.

So which of these authors is it more important for me to read? Is Card really a wolf in sheep's clothing, purportedly writing about the redemptive spirit mankind is capable of, but in truth giving us a taste only of the ugliest of our natures and leaving us hungering for more? Or is it that Card is simply more honest than any of us are brave enough to be? Does he lay bare to the world things that I won't admit about myself to myself even in the deepest recesses of my own mind?

Ender's Game is about redemption. It's about the horrible things that fear can drive us to. It's about the messy Universe we live in where good intentions can go awry. Can Ender, who has been treated only to harshness and cruelty, find deep within himself the power to not only forgive, but to lead others to do the same?

I have to admit that Card is an excellent writer. He knows how to tell a good story. As to how much Card I will be reading in the future, I don't know. Maybe it's good for me to be brought out of my comfort zone. Maybe Card has as much or more to teach me about Christianity as Lewis. I can't be sure, but I have come away from this book with something new: a deeper insight into the struggles to deal with the evils we harbor within, and the hope that we can overcome them.

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Sean said...

My brothers rave about this book, but I've never heard a description of the spiritual nature of it. This is on my short "to read" list (but it has been there for a while).

Jamie said...
This comment has been removed by the author.
Jamie said...

To me it's completely about the human spirit. A lot of people seem to think that it's mostly about how Ender overcomes all obstacles to become a great military leader, but the thing is that Ender never *wanted* to be a military leader. I don't want to give you any spoilers, so I'll just say that to me the last chapter of the book is the most important one. Be warned though that there is a lot of crude language and a lot of violence in the book.


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