A War of Gifts: An Ender Story by Orson Scott Card

Yay for another Christmas story! Except that this is a small novella that takes place during the events of Ender’s Game (which is awesome), and of course it’s not exactly a warm-and-fuzzy Christmas story.

So the story mainly revolves around Zeck (who I don’t remember being in Ender’s Game, but my memory definitely could be failing me there). Zeck is a 6-year old boy, and the son of a fierce Christian preacher – more of a religious zealot than anything. Zeck has an incredible memory, and can remember words and speeches word for word. That and the fact that he’s  just another kid super-genius leads the military to come take him away to Battle School, where he refuses to shoot or fight because it’s against his religion. While in Battle School, Zeck is miserable and largely ignored until he witnesses a single quiet act of rebellion – two Dutch kids observing Sinterklaas Day. And in his fanatical misery and desire to go home, Zeck starts a school-wide feud among the young soldiers who just wish that they were home to celebrate the holidays with their families.

So – Zeck is kind of crazy. Really, a lot of these Battle School kids seems crazy because they’re like 8 but insanely smart and manipulative and it kind of creeps me out. But Zeck has that special kind of religious fervor that makes him extra-special crazy, even for a genius Battle School kid. I kind of like reading about characters that are border-line sociopaths – it’s always interesting. Even though he’s kind of a miserable little brat and SUCH a Scrooge, you kind of feel bad for him. Of course Ender is in the story, although not much. Just enough to show once again how truly awesome Ender is.

And despite the fact that this book is a lot of religious debate and such, it was also kind of sweet to see the kids wanting to still celebrate their holidays – Christmas, Hanukkah, Sinterklaas Day, etc. It was a rare chance to see the Battle School kids still want to be kids, and that’s where the slight bit of awwwww-Christmas-spirit comes in. 

Reading this made me miss Ender’s Game. I said before that I wasn’t sure if I would continue on with the series because I have issues with how homophobic (and possibly racist) Card is, but now I really miss the Ender universe and I kind of want to re-visit it, so I may pick up the second book sometime early in 2012.

So overall, a good story (and short too, only 126 pages) and a good edition to Ender’s Game, but if you’re reading it just for Christmas-y reasons you might be disappointed.

Sarah Says: 4 stars

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