Week 5: Intelligence: Reaching Understanding
Books: Ender's Game by Orson Scott Card & An Island Like You: Stories of the Barrio by Judith Ortiz Cofer
I had to read Ender's Game last winter for Reader's Advisory, so this wasn't a new-to-me book. I liked it then, liked it now, even though Sci Fi isn't my first choice of reading genre.
It's a futuristic story, set on Earth at first, then in space at the Battle School. Ender is the 3rd child of his family, which already marks him as different because most families don't have more than 2 kids. His parents received special permission to have him, and it is soon revealed (to the reader) that the reason why is because the fate of humanity will rest upon Ender's shoulders. At the age of 7, Ender is taken away to Battle School, where he will spend the next few years being trained to become the Fleet Commander.
Along the way, Ender realizes that he is being deliberately set up for failure and to be turned into a cold killer. He is equally as resolved not to let that happen, and finds a way to keep his humanity almost intact throughout it all. No matter what is thrown at him, whether in the battle room or out, Ender finds a way to win. I like to call it "using all available resources" to get the job done. As a result, the challenges multiply, and his isolation continues, all in the name of getting him ready to lead the fleet (although he doesn't know that is the driving factor).
In the end, of course Ender triumphs over all and leads the fleet to victory, even though he doesn't know precisely what the deal is until it's all over.
This whole book strongly reminded me of the Spartans. They were trained from a very young age to fight for and if necessary, to die for Sparta. In essence, they were tools used to get a job done. The children were taken at the age of 7 to begin their military training at something strongly resembling Ender's battle school. Divided into small groups, they fought mock battles against each other. They were instilled with the 'win or die' mentality from the beginning. And all in all, taken together, it made for one of the most formidable armies in Ancient Greece.
And as for An Island Like You: Stories of the Barrio? Well, I read it. It's a bunch of short stories about a Latino barrio in New Jersey, and the less said about it, the better, I think. I'm sure it's Good, because it won awards. I'm sure it's curriculum-friendly, because it's taught in schools. It may even resonate with some YA/teens. Really. But when Every. Freaking. Story. has a 'so-and-so made the Right Choice' ending, I tend to tune out.