Ender's Game, Orson Scott Card, Tom Doherty Associates, 1985, 226 pp
Wow! I had heard about this book for a long time, but all I knew was that it was sci fi. It turned out to be one of the most powerful stories I have ever read.
Ender, at the age of six, is a gifted child who is whisked away to battle school. He is the third child in his family at a time when only two are permitted. His older brother has always tortured him and his sister has protected him. At battle school he is on his own.
Ender has been chosen by the military leaders of the world as "the one" who might be able to lead the world's troops against an interplanetary enemy who will attack within the next ten years. His "training" consists in part of experiences where he must perform without any hope of help or rescue from anyone.
As a mom, it was excruciating to read about what Ender was forced to endure at such a young age. Card seems to be saying that the loneliness of command is balanced only by Ender's extremely high intelligence. What I saw was a child who was tricked into doing what he most abhorred: killing. Somehow he did not become psychopathic and while I'm not sure it is realistic that he would not, it sure made a gripping story.
My husband also read Ender's Game and had a distinctly different response. Is that because he is a man or because he's never had his own kids? I was intrigued by Ender's way of atoning for his deeds at the end of the book. My husband was impressed that it was Ender's most humane ability that led him to victory.