Ender’s Game

Obviously I’ve gotten really busy, and I was kind of thinking I just wouldn’t post on here anymore and call it failed, but I had fun with this for a while. On top of being busy with school and extracurriculars, I also recently decided to bite the bullet and read Ender’s Game. I’ve had a copy sitting by my bed for months now, a bookmark on page 11, but I just never felt like getting into it. But I’ve recently started feeling like I need a new series since I can’t seem to get myself through A Dance With Dragons. I’ve been on Fantasy for a long time, so Ender’s Game seemed to be the perfect journey back into Science Fiction. Obviously spoilers will follow.

Here’s what I knew going into this,

1. This is my mom’s favorite book series

2. There was a movie recently (I never even saw a trailer for it though)

3. There would be some kind of huge surprise at the end

When I started actually getting into Ender’s Game, I was pleasantly surprised to find that it was an easy read. No difficult words or complex scientific terminology and theories to get hung up on like other Sci-Fi books I’ve read. I normally read about a page a minute in a regular novel geared toward adults (Game of Thrones type books); that number is obviously lower for things like Lord of the Rings. In Ender’s Game I was pretty reading a little under 2 pages per minute which was good for how busy I am right now.

In general I found it to be a charming book with a very interesting premise. The idea of how the world was run, and especially the way Peter and Valentine were able to aquire power online made it an interesting world to think about. I also felt very strongly for Ender, as I was supposed to.

Probably the biggest surprise for me was when it was revealed that not only did Ender kill Bonzo, but he also killed Stilson. Of all the things in that book, I was not expecting that one and when I read that I went back to re-read the fights then googled how they died. For me, that was the big OMG moment that stopped me in my tracks. I was also pleasantly surprised when Bean, Petra, Alai, and Ender’s other friends showed up at Command School, I was not expecting that.

Now it may be because I knew that there would be a surprise, and it may be because I read the last ~100 pages all in one sitting, but when Ender was told that the simulations against buggers were real battles and he had really just destroyed the planet all I could really think was “well…yeah.” I mean, almost the entirety of that last 100 pages was barreling toward the inevitable ending that Ender and his commanders would be fighting real battles. For goodness sake, when he arrived for the last battle, there were a dozen officials standing around tensely watching. If that didn’t hit you over the head with what was going on, I would be shocked. I’m not saying that I could have put the book down 100 pages from the end and said what was going to happen, I definitely couldn’t have, but when it did happen, I was really not surprised at all.

Luckily, my lack of surprise didn’t affect my enjoyment of the book or the thought provoking moral issues it brought up. Shortly after I finished, I found myself on all kinds of forums reading different thoughts on the ending and the whole Xenocide issue. I also read about what people thought of the movie and watched a few of the scenes from it, but I don’t think I’m going to watch it, it got too many negative reviews – mostly about how it fails to cause empathy for Ender and focuses on the cool graphics and the games in Battle School.

What did you think about the ending? Was it a shock? And should I see the movie despite what I’ve read?

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Life as a Slytherin

In the Harry Potter series, because Harry is in Gryffindor, we learn a lot about life in Gryffindor tower and the type of people there. We also get to know quite a few students from Ravenclaw and Hufflepuff and thanks to Pottermore we have gotten a lot more information on the common rooms and histories of the other houses, but that’s not enough to know what it’s really like as a Slytherin. The only Slytherins we ever come into contact with in the books are super evil or dumb as a rock, but there have to be good students as well. What is life like for them?

We know that Slytherins are known for being sly, cunning, ambitious, good leaders, and they always stick together. If you look at this list, however, some of the words have negative connotations. I know that Slytherins were supposed to be the antagonists and using words like cunning make them even scarier, but the same traits would look a lot different if you used “happier” words. Slytherins would be smart, artful, street-smart, knowing, determined, and resourceful. Slytherin is sounding a lot better already isn’t it? I know I would much rather be in the house of intelligent self-starters than the sly and cunning. It just projects a whole different image.

So back to the original idea. If I take my new words and apply them to Slytherin, I come up with a whole different type of person from Draco Malfoy and Millicent Bulstrode. This is a person who seems to have the best traits of both Gryffindor and Ravenclaw. They’re smart, they understand the world, they pick a path and fight to reach their goals, they look out for their own, and people want to follow them because they’re good at leading. This is a good person who functions and thrives in society. They may not necessarily have a huge array of friends, but they have the skills and personality traits to be successful, which is one of the main goals of Slytherins. So where are these students during the story? They’re not nearly as interesting as a blonde ferret like boy who becomes a Death Eater at age 16, but they have to exist.

On the other hand, despite the positive attributes these student’s have, it is entirely possible that generations of dark wizards coming from Slytherin and parenting future Slytheirns could cause the apparently horrible batch of Slytherins that came in with Harry. Malfoy, Crabbe, Goyle, Blaise Zabini, Pansy Parkinson, and Millicent Bulstrode were bullies who took advantage of the system, and they comprised the majority of their class. Their parents were all obviously dark wizards which affected how they were brought up. Could the fall of Voldemort when they were only recently born cause their parents to raise them to be worse than usual? If that’s the case, were the younger classes of Slytherins closer to the original guidelines of the house?

I like to imagine a Slytherin who, despite their dark upbringing, have a moral compass who takes them to the right side. They may struggle with which side they’re on but in the end conscience would win and they would end up as a CEO or the Minister of Magic or a position that would be similarly fit for a Slytherin.

What I’m still not sure about is what this student’s school life would be like. Would they be a teacher’s pet? Would they sit in the back but turn in every assignment and get straight A’s on the DL? Would they slack off but suddenly in 4th or 5th year turn everything around and pull their grades to the top? And who would they be friends with? People in their house only? More from other houses who match their ideals? This is the person I’d be interested in reading about and who I’m trying to write about in one of my stories. Someone who is put on a bad path and struggles with it and find their own way.

If you look at it differently, Slytherin is kind of awesome.

Divergent: My Opinions

I finally got around to watching the long version of the Divergent trailer (see above) today and I am very conflicted about it. Sometime last year I read the book but stopped after reading the first one because, as I found out when I read The Hunger Games, dystopias really aren’t my thing. I read the book because of a recommendation and I was quite disappointed by it. The idea was fascinating and interesting to think about but I didn’t find the characters to be at all relatable and the plot seemed somewhat contrived. It seemed like Roth really wanted to build suspense and tried her hardest but it just didn’t do it for me. For most of the story I felt like she was just throwing random things at me to try to keep me interested. It wasn’t a bad book, but definitely wasn’t my style so I didn’t have any inclination to read the rest of the series. As soon as I finished I promptly put it away and forgot all about it, despite its popularity.

I had heard idle chatter about the movie coming out, but I didn’t pay attention until after the start of this year when I saw one of the teaser trailers. Today, after several days of forgetting to, I looked up the full length trailer for Divergent. I was hoping that it would turn out the same as The Hunger Games did, where I absolutely hated the book but instantly became obsessed with the story once the movie came out, but so far the trailers have been disappointing. It looks mildly interesting and I still like the idea of the factions and how it seems like a good idea but obviously doesn’t work. However the weird romance between Tris and Four feels awkward and, unlike The Hunger Games which (I still can’t believe I’m saying this) took a book and made it better, it looks like it took the book and added emotionless actors.

But, I’ll try to keep an open mind when I see it next month. Who knows, Divergent could be the next Hunger Games.

Why I’m a Bad Hunger Games Fan

I’m not ashamed of this, but I know a lot of you hardcore HG people will be very disappointed in me. I want to talk about it though because I find the whole thing very intriguing as it has never happened to me before.

I only read the first book in the Hunger Games trilogy. And you know what? I hated it.

I’m dead serious I HATED The Hunger Games and I knew with absolute certainty that I WOULD NOT finish the trilogy. I am not into dystopias at all. The Hunger Games, Divergent, Brave New World, The Handmaid’s Tale (though it was by far the best of the four) you name it I don’t do dystopias. I just don’t like them. I don’t need everything to be happy and rainbows I even like some tragedy and angst, but when the system is as fundamentally messed up as it is in those stories I just can’t do it. I finished them all, but I never had the slightest inclination to continue on in the series.

But The Hunger Games was worse than the others. Divergent was just trying too hard, Brave New World I don’t even know, and The Handmaid’s Tale had kind of a noncommittal happy ending. See The Hunger Games was just too close for me. I have a younger sister who is about the same age difference from me as Prim and Rue were to Katniss and that just made it that much more disturbing to me. I was revolted and it angered me even more that my little sister loved them so much.

After that, why did I go see the movie? I honestly don’t remember. Maybe it was a date, or I heard good things, or I was hopeful that it would be better than the book, but whatever it was I ended up in that theater a few weeks after it came out. And then I found myself in another theater a few weeks later. And then I found myself reading page after page on the Hunger Games Wiki. I was on fanfiction.net skimming SYOT (Submit Your Own Tribute) stories that were all the rage. I loved it. I loved the movie, I loved the story, and I was writing my own.

I can’t explain why it happened, but I am really glad it did because my Hunger Games story is one of my all time favorites (and I finished it!). I took the idea from the SYOT stories on fanfiction.net but instead of asking for character submissions, I made 24 children of my own and used a random number generator to determine which order they would die in. I experimented with different storytelling techniques and that one story expanded my writing in a big way.

“What happened to how disgusted you were by the book Verity?” Good question, and if you figure out the answer tell me because I would like to know as well.

Oh, and no I never read Catching Fire and Mockingjay and no, I never wanted to.