What I'm writing: Assignments for F2K class
What I'm reading: Tough Cookie - Diane Mott Davidson
What I'm knitting: Sweater
My younger son, Mark, is an avid reader, but he doesn't recommend books for me to read. So when he said, "Mom, you should read Ender's Game (by Orson Scott Card)," I wasted no time in doing so. Now that I've finished it (but there are others in the series), I'm really glad I did.
For those who aren't familiar with the book, it's the tale of the Earth after it's been attacked by aliens twice. A third attack is expected, so some humans are bred specifically in the hope that a much-needed military genius will be found. Couples are only allowed to have two children, but if those children are close to what the government needs, but not quite right, they may be allowed (compelled?) to have a third. These Thirds are looked down upon by society.
The main character of the book, Ender, is one of these Thirds. He's taken away from his family (and oh, what a family) when he's six and put into training school. What happens from there is a web of training, lies, machinations, and violence. The adults all have an agenda and they'll push the children as far as they think they can to achieve their goals.
Without giving too much away (because if you haven't read it, you really should), I will tell you that the book, overall, is dark, with a few bright spots here and there to remind you there is still at least a little humanity.
Which brings me to the end of the book and the topic of this post (took me long enough, didn't it?). The book doesn't have a tie-it-in-a-yellow-bow happy ending. I don't think it could - not really. The ending is satisfying in a way that left me thinking: What would I do in Ender's shoes? Would I make the correct choices? Are there any correct choices?
Oh, how I love a book that makes me think!
Anyway, there's no They lived happily ever after or All was well. There's only resolution (some - but questions as well) and a hope that's so slight, and so far in the future, that it is, perhaps, negligible. For me that's enough.
I don't need sugar-and-spice endings. I need endings that fit with the story, that are a natural progression for the lives that were affected, the storyline that was created. In other words, I need realism. Even in science-fiction, even in fantasy, the ending has to be realistic to the world created and the characters' motivations. That doesn't mean it has to be realistic to this world, this time, this place, but it does have to ring true to its own canon.
Now, I love the Harry Potter books, but I think we could have all done without that epilogue to book seven. It never seemed quite reasonable that a child who was put through what Harry was - who was neglected by his family, used by nearly every other adult (whether they wanted to or not), expected, really, to be a killer - would grow up to be a well-rounded family man. Wouldn't he have issues? Wouldn't he have trouble trusting? And what would his parenting skills be??
Ender, on the other hand, is shown as broken. Not broken beyond repair, not someone who has no hope, but still, we can see the scars on his soul. Realistic. That's why I loved the ending. I could 'feel' a truth to it.
And don't get me wrong. I love a happy ending. But only when it fits, and only when we know that the happiness is for this moment, that there are still battles and worries... and LIFE out there waiting.
How about you? Do you crave a happy ending for every book you read? Do you enjoy a 'happier' novel or are you satisfied reading something darker?
And if you're a writer, do you feel like you have to create a happy ending? Are you always conscious of the realism of your characters' actions, reactions, and story?
Let me know what you think....