walkwithheroes: [Secret Dairy] (Only Just Begun)
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Let me start off by saying four things:

01. This book (and the series as a whole) is a favorite of both my dad and my younger sister. They are both in love with the story and its characters; they could fan over it for hours. My dad isn't much of a reader, but he stuck with these books. My younger sister reads everything and proclaims this to be her favorite novel, ever. They both plan of seeing the film.
02. I am painfully aware of Mr. Card's prejudices and pass statements in regard to the LGBTQIA community, marriage equality, and even minorities. However, I was determined to try and not let my disagreements with his views cloud my judgement on the novel.
03. I am aware that this novel has won several awards and is considered a classic and a favorite by many. I'm also aware that those that disagree with the praise the novel has received are often called names and told they are 'closed minded' and 'not seeing the big picture', among other things. I disagree with that: you are allowed to not like something, even if you understand it.
04. I listened to the audio book of this, which was recorded in 2004/2005. One of the things I found most interesting about it, was the last forty-fifty minutes of the recording. It was Mr. Card (or maybe someone reading his afterward from the novel) discussing how Ender's Game started as a short story in the late 1970s and how he had to go and back a novel out of it, so he could do as he wished with the second novel in the series. He also mentioned something that I think is interesting: he cleaned up the language in the novel, because he wanted it to be read by children his son's age. (9-15 year olds) Despite so many claiming that Ender's Game is an adult novel, it seems Mr. Card envisioned it as a novel for preteens and teens.


Now on to my spoiler-filled thoughts/review:



Characters/Character Development, Or the Lack Of It: (Or: How Much Are These Kids Naked and Is That More Homoerotic/Pedophilia Subtext?)

- Let us start with the adults, because that seems easier. Firstly, I believe that Mr. Card wanted a lot of their dialogue to be witty. The adults were supposed to be mysterious and slightly psycho. Dear, no. Most of the adults dialogue (especially when they talk among themselves) comes across as stilted and cruel. The teachers break the children, put them against one another, than slowly put them back together.

- As for the other children in the school: first: why are 99.9% boys? Second, I hated that most of the non-American children were stereotypes, focusing on the worst parts of their cultures/archetypes. And it bothered me so much that the children that didn't like Ender, well. . .they were the bad guys. Even if they were also 6 or 7 or 12. All these characters are between 6-13 years old, and all read like jaded fifty year olds. I understand that they are brilliant, maybe the smartest people alive. However, they never feel like children. Never come across as real people. They are either friends of Ender or people who wish him dead.

Also, what is up with these children being naked 80% of the time? It felt like the narrator was telling me about a naked boy at least once every twenty minutes of the nine hours. If nothing else, because of the way scenes descriptions, it felt like weird pedophilia subtext. At times, there was also some weird homoerotic subtext. (the way Bonzo is descripted as beautiful in a lot of detail and the way Ender thinks he'd follow Bonzo's beauty into battle and later their soapy shower fight) I don't mind subtext, but when your characters are 6 or 10 or 13. . . it feels creepy.

Ender:

The teachers pit the others against Ender, because they believe that he's the one they have been waiting for - the savior. But, for me that didn't make Ender a better leader. (Yes, we are told he is the best (honestly, there is a lot of tell and very little show when it comes to character changes/development), but it doesn't always come across.) Honestly, he comes across as inhuman, especially toward others. If you stop and think about it, Ender is boring, unlikable, and insufferable. Why does he get to violently strike out against those that wrong him, but remain morally clean? Why is he a saint, despite his dark thoughts? Why is nothing ever his fault? Why does Mr. Card try to make it seem like nearly everyone is against him, even when they are probably not against him. (More likely just annoyed that he is "perfect")


Writing Style and Plot:

- I do like that they are trained via space laser tag and video games. I thought that fit with the fact that they were training children.

- I wasn't very interested in Peter and Valentine's Earth story line, but the fact that they used what is basically the internet to change thinking was streets ahead.

- I will completely admit that I somewhat enjoyed the first part of the novel. It started to lose me around the time Ender left his first team. I thought the writing and plot got draggy. It was just hours of their mock battles and people being jerks to Ender and Ender looking at them with either pity or contempt.

- I found the writing to be stilted at times and even elementary. I felt like their was no real plot until maybe the last third of the novel;and than it just felt anti-climatic and rushed. I just felt like most of it was repetitive and not worth it.

So how do I rate it?



2/5 stars. Repetitive, stilted writing with lackluster characters and a rushed/anti-climatic ending.
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October 2013

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