CBR V Review 2: Ender’s Game by Orson Scott Card

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I had been thinking about reading Ender’s Game for ages, but it was never in the library when I remembered to look for it. Recently desperate for something absorbing to read, I gave in and bought the most retro-covered paperback at the book store.

This book was so, so great – no surprise to anyone else who has read it over the last 20 years. I did not really love the introduction that Card wrote some years after first publishing the novel – it was kind of self-congratulatory and off putting. I am not sure I need my authors to refute their critics in later editions of their books, with supporting documentation from fans.

The story itself was great, however. It focuses on a young boy nicknamed Ender, selected by Earth’s military establishment for an elite training program, designed to find a leader to lead an attack against a species that had previously attacked Earth. The training program is for children as young as 6, and all of them are enormously intelligent and talented. The novel is really tightly plotted – there are virtually no description of any physical characteristics, the isolation of the children feels oppressive throughout the novel, and the framing device of each chapter beginning with conversations amongst the adults about how they are knowingly  damaging Ender for a particular purpose adds a developing sense of foreboding throughout the novel.

About 3/4 of the way through the book, I went onto Wikipedia to read a bit about Orson Scott Card, and was a dismayed to read about his very work with conservative organizations, most notable those advocating against same-sex marriage and previously those working to keep homosexuality illegal. I know that Card is a conservative Mormon, and these views are in line with his religion, but I had to consciously keep my focus on the story  and off his politics when finishing the story. It was a bit strange, and I have to think more about how to reconcile my personal feelings about Card’s politics with my enjoyment of his novels.

 

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#CBR V Review 1: Let’s Pretend This Never Happened by Jenny Lawson

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I have to admit, Jenny Lawson’s blog post on Beyonce the big metal chicken is by far the funniest thing I have ever read in my whole life. I think that I had run across her blog a few times prior to that post, and then read that story while on my break at work. I shared it with everyone, although my husband didn’t really think it was funny – he spends much of his time sympathizing with Lawson’s “long suffering husband” and fearing that I am getting ideas from Lawson.  This book was the one thing that I asked for on my birthday this year – he did not buy it for me (see previous as to concerns for his sanity), but my mom did. Thanks Mom! My husband got me a bowling ball with his name on it instead (not true).

Anyways.

I really enjoyed this book and have since lent it out to multiple friends, but as a regular reader of the blog, I was already familiar with many of the stories in the book, particularly the latter half of the book. The stories from Lawson’s childhood and early relationship with her husband Victor were the funniest for me. In particular, the chapter about the chocolate laxatives is probably now the second funniest thing I have ever read.

Lawson has a breezy,  jokey writing style and includes a fair number of pictures in the book, as she does on her blog. She talks about a number of her personal challenges with fertility and mental illness throughout the book, although these are generally discussed in a humorous way which reminds me a bit of Carrie Fisher’s autobiographical writing style. She seems to discuss these issues honestly, but overlaid with a “funny filter.” I have been struggling a bit with depression lately myself, so she kind of gives me hope that I will be able to look back at this time in my life and find the humour too.  This is a great book, very funny and warm, and I recommend it to anyone.