Tuesday, January 1, 2008

Sharing your story...

I thought it would be fun--though it's not required by any means--to share our stories of how we came to find out about Orson Scott Card. To tell about our first reading experiences with him. And to share our reactions. What was your first Card book, etc. If anyone wants to participate, they can leave comments below, OR they can post their own story/reflection entry. If you're a big fan, you probably have a story to share. If you're a newbie, that's okay. This challenge is for everyone, and we hope you'll join us and create your own story through this challenge.

I did this in my review of Ender's Game on my Becky's Book Review site.

It is time to talk about an old friend. Orson Scott Card's Ender's Game. A novel that has become without a doubt my most favorite book in the entire world. Okay, so you might think I'm a bit overly dramatic at times. (I've been told this countless times.) But this time, I really, really mean it. (You still don't believe me, do you?) To begin my life with the beginning of my life, I record that I was born. No, I wasn't born loving Ender's Game, but sometimes it feels like it. (Yes, it was that life-changing.) It was seven years ago. The fall of 2000. I was taking a Master's level class in Children's Literature. The professor was Dr. Betty Carter. Ender's Game was a required book for the class. Up until that point, I had never read a science fiction book. Never heard of Orson Scott Card. Never even heard of the Nebula and Hugo awards. I was in for quite a surprise. I liked it, I really liked it. Melodramatic as it sounds, this book opened up a new world for me. I began to devour anything and everything Orson Scott Card. I began to spend my weekends searching used bookstores for copies of his works. And I began to obsessively check his official website maybe not every day but more than three times a week. I especially fell in love with his "Uncle Orson Reviews Everything" columns. And as my whole family--even extended family--can tell you, I began centering whole conversations around Orson Scott Card. Did you know that he.....Guess what OSC thinks about this....If OSC likes a movie, then I'll see it. (Although I don't always always agree with him on everything.) If he recommends a book, I try to read it. (I especially read it if it's a kid or YA book since that's my passion.) So maybe it's not normal to know what your favorite author likes to watch on tv...but if he chooses to write about it...then I might as well read it and remember it like trivia. Why is Ender's Game such a life-changing book? Yes, it is wonderful. Yes, it is practically perfect in every way. Yes, I could read it a hundred times and never get bored with it. But it did much more than that. Now, when you ask me to list my top ten books...or my top twenty books...it's hard for me not to make the majority of my list Orson Scott Card.

Ender's Game is the novel that started it all. It remains my favorite and my best. My second favorite would probably be Pastwatch: The Redemption of Christopher Columbus.

What makes Ender's Game so perfect? The characters. Yes, there is action. Yes, there is a war. But it is the characters that draw you in. It is Ender and Valentine and Peter that make you keep turning the pages. I think OSC gets characters in a way that few other authors do. He creates thoroughly human characters.

Andrew Wiggin "Ender" shows readers that it is not easy to be a hero. That 'saving the world' demands great sacrifice and selflessness. A hero's life is not a happy life. Yet a hero is what the world needs when the story opens. Set hundreds of years in the future, Ender's Game shows an Earth that has survived two alien invasions. The "Buggers" (an insect-like alien race) have been defeated twice. But the war--though over--carries on. As long as this alien race is out there somewhere, the Earth could still be in danger. Therefore, the world has united as one to fight their common enemy. The brightest and best children are taken from countries all over the world to Battle School. This school is a space station. The children--ranging in age from six to sixteen--are trained from the very beginning by the military. Everything has a purpose--from the "video games" that psychoanalyze each student to the battle games the children play in zero gravity. The military--the powers that be--believe Ender to be the savior that the world has been looking for all these years. And they will devote their lives to ensuring that he becomes exactly the kind of hero they need for the final battle that is to come. The problem? Such training is not healthy psychologically. These children aren't really children. They're being raised to kill and destroy the enemy as defined by the powers that be. They're being taught to hate. They're being taught to love war....to love battle...to love competition. They don't know about love. They don't know about kindness. They don't know about mercy and compassion. Most forget what life was like on Earth altogether. They've forgotten about their families, their homes, their customs. In other words, they've forgotten just why Earth is worth defending and protecting. The war has become a game to them almost. A fight for the sake of fighting.

To read a more in-depth review (also written by me) click here. Although I'll warn you now, there are spoilers. It was written for a class. And in writing assignments like those, it is all about summary and analysis. And you can't analyze a book without discussing the ending!

My Author Study Paper on Orson Scott Card


Chris said...

What an awesome post Becky :) I got goosebumps reading this, because it's so similar to how I feel about our dearly beloved author and it's wonderful to hear someone else feels the same. I totally agree with you that he is a master at creating believable, amazing characters. It's what I love most about his books. I'll post mine later tonight if I get a chance. Thanks for making this suggestion. It's a great idea!

Becky said...

I'm looking forward to reading your story, Chris. And that goes for all of you! I'd love to see how much we have in common. And I'd love to see what everyone's favorites are. I would imagine we'll have quite a sprinkling of titles.

Julie said...

Thanks Becky for putting this book on you Something about me challenge. I already picked up a copy of Speaker of the Dead at a local used book store to read, but I will keep looking for others as well.

Carl V. said...

What a fantastic post. As you know I am a newbie to reading Card. I actually read his nonfiction books on writing over a decade ago, but I don't count that. Ender's Game was a book I picked up over a year ago in an effort to start reading sci fi authors I hadn't read. Having just been prompted by Chris' wonderful gift of Speaker for the Dead to pick it back up, I fell in love with the story and can certainly see how it could be a life changing experience.

I am so thrilled that it got you into reading science fiction. There are so many wonderful science fiction stories out there! For a book with similar us vs. them war themes and great characters I highly recommend the Old Man's War trilogy by John Scalzi.

Card is certainly yours and Chris's Neil Gaiman, as Neil Gaiman is the author I feel about the way that you feel about Card. His books have been life changing experiences for me and I am quick to leap at books he recommends as well as films, music, etc. Like you and Card, I don't always agree with him, but I trust him and he is usually dead on.

I really enjoyed reading this and love talking science fiction and fantasy more than any other book talk (although I enjoy it all).