Teen science fiction. Hello summer reading!
Our youngest son was assigned this science-fiction novel for summer reading prior to starting 9th grade in August. Bill saw the movie with our other son, and Cynthia generally reads the summer books with our boys, so this one feels like a natural. Before getting started, though, we looked at online reviews for the novel. We were startled at the widely divergent viewpoints on this first in Orson Scott Card‘s military science fiction series. So, here’s what we think.
Our take on the teen science fiction novel
First, a personal comment about timing. It was the ‘right’ time from a family and commitment perspective for Cynthia to read this novel in June, while traveling. We traveled to Colorado’s lovely Rocky Mountain National Park for a few days of hiking and wildlife watching. It was quite surreal to breathe fresh air and climb to Emerald Lake during the day, and read space-based military science fiction at night. Next time, Cynthia will probably choose her timing a bit better. If we’re ever on the trip to Mars, this is the right book to take along.
Back to the story. Given the broad range of reviews, Cynthia started the book with a bit of hesitation. Frankly, she almost had an assumption that she wouldn’t love the story. Boy, was she wrong. Card’s writing immerses the reader in Ender Wiggin’s world, complete with sibling battles, bullies at school, and nightmares. The first five chapters are short, and by the end of them, Cynthia was hooked.
The battles turn out to be even more real than Ender imagines, as you will know if you have read the book. But at the end there is a thread of hope, of love, of respect for the dignity of every human (and other) being. It’s that hope, that respect for every living thing that was left with Cynthia as she finished the novel and turned to the film for comparison.
In the moment when I truly understand my enemy, understand him well enough to defeat him, then in that very moment I also love him. I think it’s impossible to really understand somebody, what they want, what they believe, and not love them the way they love themselves.
Our take on the teen science fiction movie
As you know, we love movies made from books, and we have profiled several in earlier blog posts. After reading this book, Cynthia watched the movie with Bill. Our older son cautioned: you won’t like it. But Cynthia already knew the ending was filled with hope and love, and that got her through the tough parts in the middle.
By necessity, the film abridges the book fairly heavily, just to fit the key elements of the story into a feature-length film. But in Cynthia’s opinion, the film loses nothing of the book’s essential feeling or messages from this editing. If you love science fiction, read the book. If you love the book, see the movie.
We’re glad we did.
Read, read, read
Earlier this year, we shared a graphic found by our beloved early grades reading teacher, Mrs. Debbie Crater. The math around reading, every day, for 20 minutes per day, really adds up!
Let’s all set a good example for our kids by packing a book to take along to the beach or lake, and kicking back for some summer reading!