Ender's Game by Orson Scott Card

Card, O. S. (1977). Ender’s Game. New York, NY: Tor.

ISBN-13: 978-0812550702

Genre: Classics, Science Fiction, Adventure

Reading level/ interest age: 14+

Plot summary:

Fifty years ago Earth was attacked by a hostile alien race. Called "buggers" because of their close resemblance to insects, the planet was almost wiped out but for the brave heroics of a lone soldier. Seeking to avoid future attacks, the navy places all of their faith and the future of the human race into a small handful of children.

Chosen for their bright ideas and unique minds, children are thought to surpass their elders in intellect. Ender Wiggin is just six years old when he is selected and asked to join battle school. Leaving behind his loving sister and spiteful brother, Ender departs the planet to do training in a space station. He quickly becomes the teacher's favorite which ends up being more of a detriment than a boon. Ender is purposefully isolated from his classmates and put into difficult situations meant to strengthen his will.

Unbeknownst to him, Ender is the last hope Earth has. With the navy's ships approaching the bugger home world, can Ender finish training fast enough to lead the human race to victory?

Reader’s annotation:

Ender is only six years old when he is chosen to join battle school. Can he learn enough in the next few years to defeat an entire hostile alien race and save Earth?

Information about the author:

“Besides… science fiction novels, Card writes contemporary fantasy (Magic Street, Enchantment, Lost Boys), biblical novels (Stone Tables, Rachel and Leah), the American frontier fantasy series The Tales of Alvin Maker (beginning with Seventh Son), poetry (An Open Book), and many plays and scripts, including his ‘freshened’ Shakespeare scripts for Romeo & Juliet, The Taming of the Shrew, and The Merchant of Venice

“Card was born in Washington and grew up in California, Arizona, and Utah. He served a mission for the LDS Church in Brazil in the early 1970s. Besides his writing, he teaches occasional classes and workshops and directs plays. He frequently teaches writing and literature courses at Southern Virginia University. 

“Card currently lives in Greensboro, North Carolina, with his wife, Kristine Allen Card, where his primary activities are writing a review column for the local Rhinoceros Times and feeding birds, squirrels, chipmunks, possums, and raccoons on the patio” (HatRack.com, 2014).

Curriculum ties: N/A

Booktalking ideas:

1.       Ender being gifted/special and his treatment because of it
2.       Age when drafted into the service and his parent’s willingness to let him go
3.       Restriction on number of children able to be born to a family

Critical evaluation:

Seeing the movie first can cause some confusion when switching over to read the book. In the movie, Ender is a bit older than six and his training in the book spans almost a decade rather than an accelerated year in movie time. Ender's brother Peter is more brutal as are the boys in Ender's school. In the book, Peter's presence plays more of a role in Ender's decision making than the movie hints at as well. Valentine is different too and together, she and Peter balance Ender's personality as he strives to be stronger than Valentine's softness and Peter's hot anger. The book challenges traditional roles on how parents and adults treat children. Reading of Ender's isolation from his parents, siblings, classmates, and friends is heartbreaking though he does his best to rise above it. With an extremely shocking ending, this is not a book that can be missed! 

Challenge issues:

·         Treatment of special needs children
·         Elements of child abuse

Defensive Maneuvers:

·         Have the library’s collection development policy memorized and on hand in case a situation arises.
·         Keep positive reviews on hand to refer to or hand out when needed.
·         If the book has won any awards, mention them to the patron and briefly explain the award.
·         Listen to the patron and practice good customer service skills when communicating. Let the customer know where or if he/she can escalate his/her complaint.
·         When necessary, cite sections of the ALA’s Library Bill of Rights or refer to the ALA's Strategies and Tips for Dealing with Challenges to Library Materials.

Why included:

Ender’s Game is a classic that is neither dry nor a struggle to get through. Ender’s struggles are exciting and his development of morality is interesting to follow.


HatRack.com. (2014). Orson Scott Card. Retrieved August 24, 2014 from

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