Don't Judge a Book by it's Movie
Even after a second re-watch the movie sucked but Ender's Game is a winner
After watching this movie when it first came out, I had completely written this book off. I assumed if the film was mediocre then the book wouldn't be that much better. I was so wrong.
Ender's Game is the story of a six-year-old boy, Andrew "Ender" Wiggin, who is recruited by the military to lead the fight against an alien race known as the "buggers." As Ender rises through the ranks and becomes a skilled commander, he is forced to grapple with the moral implications of his actions and the true nature of the war he is fighting.
The novel also raises important questions about the ethics of war and the use of children as soldiers. Card does not shy away from depicting the brutal reality of combat and the weight that these children are forced to carry. The novel raises the question of how much any leader can be held responsible for the actions of their subordinates and the overall outcome of a war. I loved how hard Card's novel leans into the psychology of Ender and the manipulation of military leadership.
One of the strengths of the novel is Card's ability to create complex and relatable characters. Ender is a particularly compelling protagonist, as he struggles with the weight of his responsibilities and the consequences of his decisions. He resists being the tool of military leadership, yet still, he wants to help his comrades in arms.
The only downside is that these characters that are supposed to be so young don't feel or act like children at all. Ender, in particular, is able to navigate the complex political landscape of the military school and outsmart his peers and superiors. The other child soldiers also show a level of maturity and understanding that is unusual for their age. This contrast between the children's young age and the heavy responsibilities feels jarring. None of the characters who are supposed to be children read like children at all. This is the cost the Card pays for strong characters but to me, it reads as false.
To compare I went back and re-watched the movie after finishing the book. I can confirm that it still sucks (save yourself the time and take my word on that). After reading the book, it's so sad to see how such a good book could become such a mediocre (at best) film.
One of the main differences between the book and the film is that the film places more emphasis on the action and battle sequences, while the book delves deeper into the psychological and moral implications of the war. For me, the latter is far more interesting. Although the battles in the book are fun to watch they get old quickly and I was sad that there was still so much good battle content from the books that were excluded.
The characters in the film are significantly less developed than in the book, and some of the subplots from the book were not included in the film. They cut a lot of the major characters. They added weird sexual tension between Ender and Petra. The fact that Bonzo is physically smaller than Ender is just bad casting on both parts. They could have at least compensated with camera angles. Anyway, I digress.
Overall, I really really liked the book. My husband and I listened to the audiobook over our holiday travel this year and we could not stop it. It was so good. If you haven't read the book, do yourself a favor and pick it up. It's quick and easy. It's entertaining and there is a lot to learn about the leadership tactics they use.