Ender’s Game by Orson Scott Card (Book and Movie Review)

Ender's Game by Orson Scott Card

(Updated with movie review at the bottom of the post.)

With Ender’s Game, which was published in 1985, Orson Scott Card was successfully able to make guesses as to what the future will hold, at least technologically. He described interactive desks (iPads), internet blogs, and holographic simulations. It was definitely fun to see that many of his predictions of the future have already come to pass.

While this novel was filled with quite a bit of action, it was mainly about relationships. I can’t even really argue that it is a coming-of-age novel because the kids in this novel are forced to act like adults. The relationships varied from brother-brother, brother-sister, parent-son, teacher-student, student-student, and enemy-enemy, to name a few. I like how the author used these relationships to explain and affect the actions and motivations of Ender. I found it intriguing that because the main characters were children that the adults in the novel were adept at using these relationships to manipulate the young boys and girls.

From the novel, as well, there are some interesting questions that arise such as: When is war ok? How should we feel about our enemy? Are there times when censorship from our government is necessary and acceptable? and How far should we go with the sacrifices that we make for our loved ones and ultimately humanity? The ending was a bit strange for me and I wouldn’t be surprised at all if it is left out completely in the movie. Speaking of the movie, I can see how the movie could be really good or really bad. I will definitely go see it and will be disappointed if the movie fails to address some of the aforementioned questions.

I definitely enjoyed the book and I thought it was a great listen as it had multiple narrators. I didn’t like all of the voices that were used for the many different characters but I did like the voices used for the main characters. I would recommend the book for lovers of science-fiction but I would also recommend the book as a good action novel (I would say the same for the new Star Trek movies, which I feel cater not only to sic-fi lovers but lovers of action flicks as well).

Movie Review: So, I went to see the movie on opening weekend with a group friends where half of the group had read the book and half had not.  The five who had not read the book thoroughly enjoyed the movie. The five who had read the book, including myself, felt cheated.  I haven’t talked to anyone who has read the book and did not really like it, so all five of us went into the theater skeptical but hoping for great things.

For the most part, the acting was spot on.  Harrison Ford was great as Colonel Graff, Asa Butterfield played Ender, the conflicted and skilled youth, with a noticeable ease, and Hailee Steinfeld was cast well as Petra, the tough female confidant of Ender.  The problem was that these excellent characters were not nearly as well developed as they were in the book. There simply was not enough movie for the all of the nuances of each relationship to be flushed out.  Someone commented to me that they had read that the filmmakers stated that there really was too much source material for one movie but not enough to make two movies.  And, as I stated in my original review, I would be disappointed and am disappointed that many of the issues that I liked so much about the book were not fully addressed in the movie, such as the wonderfully intertwined coming-of-age story and the conflicts of censorship and war.  In a way, I wish that the movie had either stuck more closely to the source material or steered away from it more.  The Great Gatsby movie was much closer to the source material so that it could do it justice, and World War Z, the book and movie were so different that it didn’t matter.

I would like to briefly discuss another controversy that has come up before and has recently been reignited with the release of the movie.  No one argues that Orson Scott Card is a great writer.  Most people, however, do not agree with everything that he has written.  If you are out of the loop, Card is a Mormon and has spoken out and written against homosexuality.  In 1980, Card wrote the book, Songmaster, which showed a homosexual lifestyle as being mutually self-destructive, and as early as 1990 and up to the present, he has written in support of anti-gay laws. Boycotts against Orson Scott Card have been organized and many have refused to see the movie so as to show their disapproval of his views and opinions on homosexuality.

I, obviously, did not boycott the movie, nor did I boycott Chick-fil-a.  My decision to see the movie or go eat some chicken had nothing to do with my views of homosexuality but because it was a quality book and they make quality chicken.  I wonder if it is really right and really fair to condemn the man and his works for his opinions and views.  In Orson Scott Card’s case, I would say “œno” that it is not fair. A man has the freedom to believe and think what he wants as long as his beliefs to do not lead him to harm others.  But, then I think about someone like Mel Gibson, who has become a pariah for the things that he has said against Jewish people.  Now, I did not see Apocalypto, but it wasn’t because of his views but because the movie was said to be not very good.  I do know that Gibson has been in and does make good movies so I wonder if I have been fair to him.  I would love to hear how others feel about this issue.

Ender’s Game Purchase Links: Paperback, Kindle Edition, Audible.com Audiobook

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