In a way this is a book review, and in another way this is a discussion on reviewing books in a world where not all books are equal. I’ve hesitated in recommending this book, so when I talk about it here today, I’m really more interested in the overall idea of dealing with the subject of book reviews that aren’t just cut and dry, “This is what I like.”
Ender’s Game (Orson Scott Card, 1985)
Fifty years after just barely repelling an alien invasion, the people of Earth are determined to be ready for the next and, if necessary, take the fight to their invaders. Their choice of soldier in this new world were wars are fought from cockpits and bridges of highly advanced spacecraft? Children. Enter Andrew “Ender” Wiggins, at tactical genius from the age of six who might just be the one to save the world. If he is willing to spend his childhood in simulators.
I saw the movie version in theater and liked it enough to pick up the book. All in all, I loved this book. It was the kind of book I looked forward to reading whenever I got the chance. The story was compelling, had some good twists and some thought provoking themes, including the dangers of violent video games and the anonymity of social media (remember this book was written in 1985). The final concept in the book called “Speaker for the Dead” was, while not particularly plausible, a very interesting way to close up the story.
So, why can’t I outright recommend this book? Straight to the point, the language is pretty rough. This is considered a “middle grade” book, which averages on 11-14 years of age. However, in attempt to portray children who are being forced into the toughest part of adulthood, the author added a lot of D— and H— and S-O-B, etc. to the extent where I don’t really understand how this book is classified as a children’s book. Okay, the primary characters are children. Is that really all it takes?
Yes, I know there is a pretty big discussion right now about putting language of any kind in books. I would prefer not to have it anything I read, and I won’t put it in my writing. Frankly, I think it breaks the speech pattern up. Interestingly, Ender’s Game does portray cursing as how I’ve always described the way it sounds when people attempt it – Children attempting to sound like adults. I have my limits on what I will not tolerate. This didn’t cross my line. I’m not sure if that makes me desensitized, compromised, or just an adult. But I want to be honest and honestly know what you think.
Is there a line for you between adult and children’s book? Are there lines that shouldn’t be crossed? Do you ever want to recommend a book, but are afraid to at the same time?
Interesting side note: the movie is actually milder in language.