Sunday, January 06, 2008


About mid-December I read Ender's Game by Orson Scott Card. This one had been on my list a long time and I bumped it up when K. in CA especially recommended it. I wish I'd had the opportunity to post about it earlier because now, after less than a month, I can't remember much in the way of specifics. I did find it very interesting, though it was a little intense in some parts. I'm usually not up for violence in books or movies, and while there isn't a lot of graphic violence in this book, the few brief scenes are strong. Not at all gratuitous--these scenes are key to the plot and themes. There is also some crass language that I could have done without.

Ender's Game was very masculine. I had that impression again and again as I read it. I have never read such a masculine book. It's about leadership, but also one-up-manship, cruelty, war, political strategy, extreme sibling rivalry, and genocide. I have not read a lot of science fiction. Is much of it similar to this? It was a fascinating read, though it took a bizarre turn at the end that reminded me of Latin American magical realism. The last chapter seemed more like the outline of another novel.

After Christmas I read The Golden Compass by Philip Pullman. The book is spellbinding. I couldn't put it down. It takes place in a parallel universe. All of the people of this world are constantly accompanied by their "daemons," which take the form of animals. This was the most unique feature of this fantasy. There is a powerful, controlling, and violent church in this world. I too got an inbox full of forwarded emails about a mysterious "they" whose goal it is to lure my children in with this movie (a flop, it seems), hook them on the anti-Christ series, and turn them into little atheists. It motivated me to read the book, and for that I thank the originators of this email. It is true that Philip Pullman is an atheist and hater of the Narnia series, but The Golden Compass is genius. It deserves to be a classic. I am now reading the second in the series, The Subtle Knife, and it's good but not like The Golden Compass.


ave said...

The Atlantic had an interesting interview with Philip Pullman titled "How Hollywood Saved God". It gave some prespecitive into the author's odd little world.
I look forward to you finishing the series so that we can discuss it. I think I have told you that JW really enjoyed the series and I was only luke warm to it. I agree that the first book was excellent. I didn't finish Enders Game, I think I will later. I liked it well enough but it was so intense. The language was just what one would expect in a boys dormitory, I winced a little too.

dave said...

yeah, i went and saw the movie and it almost turned me into an atheist but i closed my eyes for the last few seconds of the credits and so was saved from the full effect. phew. [not a great movie; stick to the book. unfortunately, the series continues to go downhill.]

LaDonnaMobile said...

Thanks for the open-minded review! Those e-mails about Compass had me wondering . . . now I want to read it! :)

ML said...

Isn't Ender's Game the first book in a series? I read them a few years ago. As I read that book, I spent a lot of time thinking about the author and how he came up with his story--that fascinated me.

I've never read The Golden Compass--some of my kids have. I haven't been the least bit interested to see the movie--I think I'm a little burned out on the fantasy genre.

Karen ~ said...

uh, I liked the Golden Compass movie. I must have blinked at some point, though, so - like Dave - I was not turned into an atheist :-)

I do agree with all, though, that the first book of the trilogy is the best.

GuGarden said...

I love Orson Scott Card's work. There are other books in the Ender's Game series and it is a fascinating ride. I read it when I was a young women and probably would find it a different read now that I'm an adult and a mom. I will have another go at it though I think after your review. I too have heard much about The Golden Compass and I think that I am going to try to fit that in too. I love to read your book reviews. Thanks for sharing.