Ender's Game. This book is amazing. It reads very easily, moves quickly, and is highly entertaining, but is also one of the smartest books I've ever read.
I'm going to do my best to explain this book, but it's complicated, requires a lot of back story, and I don't want to give away the ending. It's the future... the world has banded together to fight a common enemy, the buggers, an alien race who almost wiped out the planet in their last attack. Humanity's only hope is that the Battle School, established to train young geniuses in strategy, will produce "the one" who is smart enough to take on the buggers and allow the human race to survive. At the age of 6, they think Ender is that one.
The book is well-crafted. For the most part we follow Ender who is incredibly easy to like and relate to (even though he is a six year old genius and I am a twenty-four year old non-genius). But other points of view provide a full and complex understanding of what is going on away from the isolated battle school. Because we understand everyone's motivations, there are no "bad guys". Seriously, when you weep at the destruction of the enemy without hating the good guys... you know the book was a success.
Like the Hunger Games, Ender's Game raises many questions about war and what we are willing to do to protect ourselves. It isn't nearly as graphic and Ender is much more likable, but both books explore similar themes. I don't particularly like the last few pages, because (much like 90% of Mockingjay) I think they throw the themes at the reader a little too strongly instead of letting the reader come to his or her own conclusions. But that is a very minor fault for one of the smartest books I've ever read.
There are three additional books in this series. I've always been afraid to read them because Ender's Game is so perfectly complete and compelling. I know that I will be disappointed if the sequels don't blow my mind and that is a lot to ask of a book.
This book counts toward the following challenges: 100+, Read Me Baby One More Time, and Fight or Flight for the Hogwart's Reading Challenge. Follow my progress on my 2011 Challenges Page.