In Ender’s world, it is not a good thing to be a third child. Earth has a strict law limiting families to only two children, and Ender is a third. This makes Ender’s parents suspect for possibly holding unconventional beliefs about the morality of contraception, and it makes Ender feel like a mistake, an unwanted and potentially dangerous creation. Only Ender’s sister, Valentine, makes him feel truly loved, protecting him as much as she can from the torments of their older brother, Peter. Peter is still bitter that he was not quite brilliant enough to be selected for an elite school that trains future military officers for the ongoing war between the Earthlings and the insect-like aliens called the “Buggers.” When Ender is of age, it initially seems that he will not make the cut for Command School either, as the government removes the implant that has been tracking his intellectual development. But after an incident at school where Ender fights back against a bully, fatally injuring him, the government returns and offers Ender a place at Command School. Overcoming the disadvantage of his small size, Ender excels at the tests thrown at him, most of which are framed as “games” that challenge him intellectually. But the greatest challenge may be navigating the social and political tensions at the school in order to prove that he has what it takes to lead an army against the Buggers.
Ender’s Game is a sci-fi classic. There is plenty of outer-space action, but the main focus of the novel is on character development and the relationships that fuel the social and political subtexts. I highly recommend this book to teen and adult sci-fi fans!
If you liked Ender’s Game, you might like the Foundation series by Isaac Asimov.