Ender’s Game by Orson Scott Card (1977)

After almost a century of war against the insectile alien “Buggers,” Earth’s military forces are running out of options. They begin a search for the next great general, identifying children with great potential and taking them to Battle School at a young age. Ender Wiggin is the best chance Earth has—and he may be the last. The youngest of three extremely intelligent children, Ender is the goldilocks fit—not too cruel, not too kind, and just creative enough to change military tactics. At the delicate age of six, Ender is sent off-world to Battle School as their youngest recruit, and must quickly climb the ranks and master complex tactical and physical games in order to become a commander in the war, which is quickly coming to a head.

Ender’s Game is considered a classic among science fiction titles for young adults, but many of the themes transcend that age and remain applicable to adults. The children (the Wiggin children in particular) are all hyper-intelligent and speak as logically and as sophisticatedly as (if not more than) their adult counterparts, easily discussing military tactics and political issues. The writing is focused primarily on plot, with short interludes of dialogue between high-ranking military officials, and is not bogged down by description, which helps the novel to move quickly and span multiple years. Ender and the other children at the battle school are possibly too advanced to be believable, yet they fit well into the genre and remain memorable and sympathetic. Overall, this novel by Orson Scott Card is an engaging, fast read for fans of science fiction or stories of heroic children.

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