You first have to understand that Orson Scott Card wrote one of my favorite books of all time – Ender’s Game. I actually read Ender’s Game as part of my ninth grade curriculum and have reread the novel a couple of times since – plus, I finished the Ender’s Saga a couple of years ago (there are three additional books in the series). In a way, I kind of view Ender Wiggins as my Harry Potter. That being said, Empire is no Ender’s Game.
Card was asked to create a world around a video game idea and thus, Empire was born. We’re a bit into the future to the tune of a few years, not decades or centuries. In the first few pages, the President and Vice President are both assassinated. Before long, the US has found itself smack in the middle of a second civil war – this one being fought red vs. blue. Instead of a boy genius, Card now has us following an old Delta command unit whose leader works an office job at the Pentagon in anti-terrorism.
Empire is political – you need to know that up front, and the politics are anything but balanced. Sure, Card does occasionally try to argue both sides, liberal and conservative – but all too often these brief moments seem forced or merely an afterthought. Writers are supposed to write what they know, right? Card is very much a conservative so it comes as no surprise that the Liberals are the enemy – the bad guys. I’d have been much more pleased if he had reversed the situation and removed the reader’s ability to say – boy, I sure saw that one coming.
The novel does highlight the duality and division of our country’s two-party system, the ugliness of war, and warns of something many Americans believe could never happen – another civil war. The action is non-stop and the pages turn freely. If you can divorce yourself from choosing sides or identifying with any one ideal, you can probably enjoy this book as a fun, sci-fi thriller.
I rated this book a 2/5 because I’m heavily biased. Empire doesn’t come close to Ender’s brilliancy and the story just feels too choppy – kind of like someone wrote something because they were asked to, not because the idea grew organically in their own imagination (huh, imagine that!). Plus, they killed my favorite character mid-way through the novel which left me kind of floundering to find someone else to believe in. Boo!
A little warning – this book is the first in a series, so the ending will fall a bit short. Also, I don’t plan on reading the next novel. I’m beginning to get a bit peeved at everything having to be a series now-a-days.
Year Publish: 2006
Next review: The House of the Seven Gables by Nathaniel Hawthorne