As an alien race threatens to destroy humanity, Ender is its last hope and is sent to battle school to become a commander.
Let me take a deep breath before I organize my thoughts and communicate my disgust for this book and my surprise at how acclaimed it is.
First of all, and it should be enough in itself, Ender's Game is poorly written, both in terms of style and content. The novel is filled with unrealistic dialogues between young children who sound like adults, and when you finally start accepting the fact that they are simply wise beyond their years, Card drops something like this half-way through: "it wasn't an accident. Ender realized that now. It was a strategy" (page 167 of my 1994 Tor Book edition). So this kid talks like a politician but it takes him forever to figure out what his teachers are up to! I call that bad writing. And throughout the book, I really felt that Card did struggle, and ultimately failed, to demonstrate that his main character's thought-process was superior to the rest of humanity. Yes, he expressed himself like an adult, and yes, his results were the best, but his thought-process seemed far more average than it was supposed to be, which is also bad writing.
To be honest, the very foundations of the plot were shaky to me. The idea that playing video games and blogging can make a difference is a bit ridiculous, although it at least partially explains the popularity of Card's novel. More importantly, when Card goes out of his way to sprinkle historical references here and there with the subtlety of a 10-year-old, I'm astonished to see that he did not think censorship - in times of war!- would prevent Ender's siblings from doing what they do on the internet. (I also tend to think Card should read a Malcolm Gladwell essay on social protests and the internet, but that's a different story).
I will not get into all the clichés that pervade the plot ( such as the "he was bullied and becomes the bully"-cliché), the shocking racial stereotypes, nor the many simplistic plot-twists (apparently Ender is one of the few to think of analyzing the enemy's combat techniques by watching videos...Well, if humanity is that dumb, I'm not so sorry it might disappear), but I have to mention how disturbing the mood of the novel was at times.
I knew about the author's reputation and appalling views on homosexuality before I read the book, but (unfortunately) many authors I can't help admiring have been known to hold shocking views. I also know that one should try not to judge a piece of literature based on what one knows about the author's life. However, I don't think it's possible to abstain with Ender's Game. I don't think it's possible to ignore the homoerotic potential of this book, especially when the author goes out of his way to tell you there's practically no girl in battle school. Somehow, there's something about homo-eroticism in the work of an anti-gay man that really bothers me. Does your hatred stem from the fact that you're repressed, Mr. Card?
On a completely different level, I also felt there was space for incest and pedophilia in Ender's Game. I have nothing against incest and pedophilia as literary subjects (Lolita is after all one of my favorites), but in this case my issue with them is that they did not seem to be addressed on purpose. It is as if they had been unconsciously expressed through the plot, and THAT creeped me out.
Well, that's the end of my pseudo-Freudian analysis. All I can say is that I have no intention to read another of Orson Scott Card's books. Gross.