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On a daily basis many of us go home after school, plop down in front of our computers and waste away our days playing video games. Ever wonder if maybe the games which occupy our lazy days were actually training us for some cataclysmic war?

The timeless story Ender’s Game by Orson Scott Card dares to show you a world where that exact fear comes true. Growing up in a world already attacked twice by alien invaders must be a hard life, but when the government begins regulating breeding, and restricting the number of kids one can have in order to raise the most powerful military leaders, life gets that much tougher. Ender is a young and small “Third”, who wants more than anything to get far away from his malicious older brother, and the bothersome bullies at school. But he also doesn’t want to leave his beloved sister behind. When the opportunity to escape presents its self, it doesn’t take much to convince him to go for it. Ender, along with hundreds of other children, is taken to a distant space station called the “Battle School”. On the flight to the school, Ender is immediately singled out and picked on by the larger kids. Ender tries to just sit and wait for help from one of the adult officers, but when he realizes that there will be no help granted he must take action to get the harassment to stop. He lashes out and ends up throwing one boy across the shuttle. Once at the battle school Ender is continually isolated and forced to protect himself.

The children are trained through the form of games. At first, simple strategy games on their personal computers, then through rigorous mock battles. The children must learn basic antigravity hand-to-hand maneuvers, to work together in platoons to accomplish the common goal of defeating the enemy. Soon Ender begins to accelerate in his training and is quickly promoted to command his own army. The adults begin to push Ender and his army of stragglers by assigning them battles on a daily basis (sometimes twice). After their first lucky win, they become undefeated. For many weeks Ender and his army top the ratings. Up until the adult officers graduate Ender early and transfer him to Command School.

The Command School uses simulations to train students in flight battles instead of close combat. Ender is put in charge of multiple ships and must command the pilots much like he would command his toons. It is from these simulations that the biggest twist in the book is revealed. But you’ll have to read the book to find that out.

This story is a great reflection on the human condition and how we grow and develop according to the stress and stimuli we’re exposed to. Card, who served a mission in Brazil for the LDS Church, also drops many religious under and overtones, especially in the epically inspiring final chapter which leads directly into Card’s second book in this series, named Speaker for the Dead. All in all, an intense and awesome novel about a species stretched to the brink of extinction, and what they’ll do to survive.