Enders Game by Orson Scott Card – 4 out of 5.
In the past I have traditionally read mainly modern-ish novels. Some years back I decided I should try to get through a few more classics, including those that have won the Hugo or Nebula or both. Enders Game was on my list for just this reason, although at 1985 it's not all that old. I knew absolutely nothing about the story before I picked this up & didn't even know what the title meant. As it turns out “Ender” is the nick-name of our hero & “Game”s is what they have Ender playing at Battle School.
This is a somewhat unusual book in that there is a child as the main character but it is not a novel aimed at children. It is a fairly easy read & the book cracks along nicely as Ender goes from his home, up to Battle School in space & beyond, the narrative is simple, but interest is always held as Ender has many difficulties to overcome during his education. The main enemies here are the amusingly “buggers”, but these aliens are kept very much in the background & it is mainly his peers & teachers that cause all the problems.
The book is really all just one big long build to the final confrontation in the bugger war & the third invasion (the first & second invasions are again kept quite secretive). There are some aside sections with Enders brother & sister back on earth but there feel largely superfluous to the plot (they may be expanded in other books from the series, I'm not sure). & the ending does come across as a bit Lord of the Ringsy, in having lots of post climax / epilogue stuff.
If you can go along with the frankly rather unbelievable premise that the Earth war fleet has no commander & they are desperately seeking a “gifted” child to take control, then this is an excellent story. There is something of a twist to the ending too, though I did rather suspect what it would be sometime before it was relieved, but there was enough feint in there to make it interesting. I like to look for what authors think will become common inventions in the future & there are some interesting references here to what is today common place technology, but for 1985 must have been real future SF stuff; such as the “net” – internet, “mail” – email & “desks” lap/palm tops.