I am not an objective listener to Ender’s Game Alive. I have read Ender’s Game more than any other books (I would guess around a dozen or so times.) I usually say it is my all time favorite book.
So when Orson Scott Card started promoting a full cast audioplay (an old fashioned radio drama) I picked it up. (Of course it was timed to release right before the new Ender’s Game movie which released Nov 1.) Orson Scott Card got his start writing as a playwright. And as a stand alone play, it is well done.
Stefan Rudnicki (who is my favorite narrator) performed and produced the audioplay. So he was a familiar voice (he narrators and produces almost all of Orson Scott Card’s audiobooks.) And there are very good (and familiar) other voices that are a part of the audioplay. The production values are very good, this is just like the best of the old fashioned radio plays.
But there were two things apparent to me almost immediately. First, this is a book that is mostly about children. But all of the voices were adult. I don’t know what I expected. It is not something that I thought was odd when I have listened to the regular audiobook or other children’s audiobooks. But audiobooks are narrated by one or two voices and I don’t have an expectation of hearing children’s voices.
Ender’s Game Alive did not have a narrator. Any action was only through dialogue. So the actor’s voices were important and they were too old and it just didn’t feel right. And there were occasional very forced dialogue to explain action that was not easily narrated. (For instance, during the two pivotal fight scenes, the adults were watching via video and discussing the fights, which is not what happens in the book.)
The second thing that was apparent from very early on, is that this is an abridged version of the story. The unabridged audiobook is nearly 50 percent longer than audioplay. So a lot of the development of the characters and the battles were cut. Maybe others that are less familiar with the book would think the edits work, but it just felt jarring to me to miss character development.
I will say that it has motivated me to go back and re-read the kindle version of the book again before I see the movie.
On the whole, unless you are a real fan of the radio drama as a medium, I would get the full unabridged 20th Anniversary edition of the audiobook (which is excellent) or the kindle version (which is only $3.98 right now)
Bookwi.se Note: I have since done a seperate post about the differences in the storylines between the Ender’s Game book and Ender’s Game Alive.
Ender’s Game Alive Purchase Links: Audible.com Audiobook (the first 80 minutes are available free as a sample)