I watched the movie before I read the book. This is one of the few times when I though the movie was better. I didn’t hate the book, but there were some things about it that I didn’t like.
To start, there was a creepy, almost twisted undertone to the book that was probably there because of all the ways the teachers tried to make Ender feel like he had no friends and everyone was his enemy (their job was literally to make his life miserable).
This theme, the one about Ender needing to feel that everyone was his enemy in order to win, was certainly interesting, but it deserved to be discussed more, especially since it bothered Ender throughout the entire book. There was no clear resolution to the problem, other than the fact that he apparently got over it at some point, but that wasn’t sufficient.
One of the other main things that bothered me about the story was the way all the kids acted. At the beginning of the story, Ender was six, Valentine was eight, and Peter was ten. It’s completely unbelievable that they talked the way they did, despite the fact that they were supposedly smart kids. (Also: how come all kids in the story were smart? Were there no ordinary kids in that futuristic world?) Even smart kids don’t talk like adults.
There were some parts that I liked. The technology was interesting, especially the “nets”, which is impressively similar to the Internet. The desks that Ender and the other students had were interesting, too. I pictured them as large glass tablets with 3D images that popped up out of them. My favorite of all the technology was the battle rooms, which sound fun but also incredibly challenging to have a battle in, even if you know how to maneuver your way around in zero gravity. And the part near the beginning when Ender was writing rude messages on the desks, making them look like Bernard was writing them—that made me laugh.
I didn’t like any of the characters particularly much, but if I had to pick a favorite, it would be Ender. I did like some of his friends, but they weren’t in the story very much, especially after he left battle school.
The ending wrapped up some things well, but other things were left hanging, like the issue of Ender dealing with the fact that he killed almost an entire species. I know it was discussed, but it wasn’t resolved. Maybe the next book in the series (which I don’t plan to read) do discuss it more.
A movie review will be coming soon.
Overall: three stars.