Ender’s Game is a novel written by Orson Scott Card and published in 1985. Since then it has remained a cult favorite among sci-fi fans. After several years of attempts it is finally moving forward with a film adaptation directed by Gavin Hood and staring Asa Butterfield as Ender.
With the film on its way, I began reading the iconic novel. After only a few pages in, I was hooked. I finished it over the course of probably a few days. I can tell why it is so popular, however, I can see why it took so long to be made into a film. We just now have the technology to do the adaptation right.
Along with reading the novel, I was able to listen to the audiobook as well. This was really great because at times I was really into the novel but had to leave. Thankfully, I was able to pick up where I left off with the audiobook while driving without missing a beat in the story. It was a great companion to the paperback. If you are a busy reader, having the audiobook in your car will make things so much easier. I promise!
So, after finishing the story, I am SO excited to see the film. So, here are eight reasons I loved the novel and I can only hope they keep these things in the movie.
I love the tone of this novel. Despite the serious content, it is not all serious. There are several moments in the novel that are used to break up the tension. It can be very overwhelming to have a novel that is one serious scene after another. However, as the story progresses those moments are fewer and fewer because we head to the climax. Not to mention the switch in prospective from Ender to Gruff. The aid is showing the audience that what Ender is working toward is even more important that he realizes. It is very effective storytelling in my opinion.
There are SO many surprises in this novel. I don’t just mean twists, I mean things that are surprising to the point that I literally set the novel down just to grasp what I had read. Despite all the surprises though, it didn’t ever feel like they were arbitrary or just thrown in there to create tension. It felt more honest and less sensational. Some of the surprise moments even caused me to flip back in the novel and re-examine something I had read. Not many novels surprise me, usually I can see something coming, but there were moments I didn’t see. A fantastic read, definitely.
I loved this main character. At the beginning I was very skeptical of the characterization. At the young age of Ender, I had a problem believing he could talk and act the way he did. However, the longer I read this book, the more I liked him. The more the audience grows to know him. I think it aids a lot to the story to not see what Graff sees till later. But after watching him grow and learn, the audience begins to see what Graff always saw within Ender. I ended up really feeling for him as a character by the end, so far as to feel bad for him and the life he was forced to live and the things he was forced to do.
This novel jumps into the story pretty quickly. I absolutely hate it when too much exposition is part of a novel. Thankfully, Ender’s Game spends minimal building before throwing Ender and the audience into Battle School and the plot. I think this is wise especially as this novel is used to hook children into reading. To much exposition makes it hard for picky readers to get into the story. But in a matter of pages, we are immersed in the new world of Ender and Battle School.
One of the best parts of this book is the character development. And not just for Ender either. We see his siblings Valentine and Peter evolve, we see Colonel Graff devolve due to exhaustion and stress, and yes we see Ender grow and became the savior of the world. None of the main characters are two-dimensional because the story takes place over years of development we are forced to see them and that makes the story that much better. If we didn’t know the changes that Graff makes or Valentine, their actions would make less sense to the audience.
The Battle Room
Who doesn’t love the Battle Room? I mean really? If you have read this novel, it is probably one of those things you love. It is the setting for so many scenes and aids so much in shaping Ender to the young man who saves the world. It is critical. This is one of those things that I think caused the movie to be delayed for so many years. If you can’t get it right, there is no point in even making the movie.
The ending caught me off guard. I knew something was up about halfway through Ender working with Mazer Rackham, but the extent that he was tricked and used, I did not see coming. I also felt that Ender’s reaction to what happened was very realistic. Not many can commit mass genocide and walk away being ok, but then again that’s the reason they picked Ender instead of Peter. Ender secluded himself, mourns, becomes depressed. If he had gotten up and been fine, or even if he was sad but moved on, it would have been less acceptable. We see throughout the novel the kind of person Ender is and will be. We know how he cares deeply for humanity but also feels guilty for necessary steps he was forced to take in order to protect said humanity. This even more prevalent after finding the hive queen, despite being war hero, Ender is compassionate and strong and searches to find somewhere she can live again.
Valentine and Peter
These two are so important to the story. Like Ender they are smart and they are creative. But both his sister and brother are very different then he is. To truly understand why Ender was chosen, the audience needs to see why Valentine and Peter were not. Valentine is too compassionate while Peter is too fierce and sadistic. Knowing why they were not chosen is said almost immediately but the audience doesn’t fully grasp the reason till we see what Ender is put through. It then becomes more apparent why Ender is the savior, being a perfect mix between his two siblings.
I know creating a film adaptation of a novel means taking things out and adding things in to make it flow better, or work better, but I hope most of these things stay relatively intact. And please, make the Battle Room awesome!
The film adaptation will be released on November 1, 2013, by Summit Entertainment. It stars Asa Butterfield as Ender as well as Harrison Ford, Ben Kingsley, Aramis Knight, Hailee Steinfeld, Jimmy Pinchak, and Abigail Breslin.
Note: Review copies of the audiobook and paperwork were provided by Macmillan in partner with this review.