Ender's Game Book / Movie Review

Warning, this contains spoilers!

Before I begin, I should say that I watched the movie in theaters when it first came out, and have only just now gotten around to finishing it. While reading, I tried to imagine that I had not watched the movie, and was reading the book for the first time. My memory of the movie is pretty fuzzy, so this was pretty doable for the most part.

I will compare what I remember from the movie to the book near the end.


Basically, the world was attacked by aliens (twice), and so a governing body, the IF (international fleet) is formed, which was designed to protect Earth from the "buggers" (the aliens). The IF decided it would be best to start sending literal toddlers into battle school, where they would learn to fight and develop strategies. After battle school, they would go to pre-command school (in Ender's case, command school), where they would learn to command entire enemy ships in simulators. To no one's surprise, Ender defeats the buggers at the end.

There is a lot of really important details that I am skipping over. Really, you need to read the book!

The Good

There are a lot of good things to say about this book, which is a good thing!

Easy to understand

I found that this was super easy to read, and that most of what was said stuck. Not all sci-fi books have to be a dense and complicated jungle of theory and metaphors.

The major plot points are easy to pick up: for example, when Ender is moved from place to place tells you something major has/is happening.

Touched on many interesting sci-fi topics

One of the coolest parts of the book for me was the Ansible, this machine which was capable of transmitting information instantaneously across any distance. In a similar vein, the fact that the "buggers" are a hive mind species who don't have the ability to read/write/speak is super interesting, and probably one of my favorite parts of the whole book.

Had good, meaningful characters

Ender, Valentine, and Peter all where solid characters. You really felt the villainy in Peter, and the loving sisterly-compassion in Valentine (ironic). Bonzo also was a great character, and the build-up to his eventual death was quite something. Every character had a clear purpose and meaning to the story, even if they just had a small part.

The Bad

Ending felt a bit rushed

I am specifically talking about the epilogue which introduced the concept of the speakers for the dead. It was very interesting, but felt like it was slapped on at the end, and told in a matter-of-fact attitude. Again, I didn't hate it, I just thought it could've been introduced more gradually. There where plenty of indications that Ender felt for the buggers, so it wasn't completely unexpected.

The Ugly

Lack of imagery

A lot of the scenes where not as descriptive as they could've been. A lot was left to the imagination, and perhaps this was the point. Perhaps me already seeing the movie set the bar for how the scenes where supposed to be, and the book not describing things with such visual clarity should've been expected.

Movie Comparisons

For starters, the whole romance thing with Petra did not exist in the book.

Another thing is that the actors are much older then portrayed in the book, though this is somewhat expected given how young they are in the book. Ender is six when he first goes to battle school, and 11 when he defeats the buggers (I believe).

One of the things the movie did better was the scenes where Ender was in the Giant game, and the command school simulations. The surreality of the Giant game shown on a big screen was great to see, and the full-blown simulations in the command school where so much better then the little colored shapes portrayed in the book.

One of the small details that was different was the events that took place in the shower fight. The movie made it seem like Ender was more remorseful, though in the book he went all out, like he did on Stilton. If I recall correctly, they also did not mention that the Stilton and Bonzo where killed in the movie, though I might be wrong about that.

Also, Harrison Ford was casted as Colonel Graff, which was pretty cool. Lots of people say that his performance was lacking, though I remember him being a pretty stone-walled character in the book. Perhaps I should re-watch the movie.

Should you read it?


The ideas and plot points in the book are really good, and a good book to cross off any sci-fi lovers book list. The fact that they also made a movie about it tells you that the book must've been good (or that they wanted to turn it into a franchise, who knows).

Ender's Game, and it's sequel, Speaker for the Dead, both won the Nebula Award for Best Novel in the years 1986 and 1987 respectively. There are so many classic Nebula Award winners, like Dune and Neuromancer. If you liked either of those, you might like Ender's Game as well (I have yet to read Neuromancer though).

Final thoughts

My friend told me that there are many stories in this universe, and many ways to read the books. For example, Ender's Shadow is a book that takes place at the same time as Ender's Game, but from the perspective of Bean. This might be something to keep in mind if you are wanting to read the book(s) for the first time.

All in all, a good book, and I can't wait to read the sequel!