So it’s taken me a while, but I should tell you about reading ‘Ender’s Game’ by Orson Scott Card. I read it in the week before I left for my amazing European adventure, and have left it a bit late to tell you all about it.
Now, I don’t know how long you spend perusing the young adult section of your local bookshop, but in case you haven’t realised, dystopian fiction is having a moment. Sparked from Suzanne Collins’ ‘The Hunger Games’, they seem to have exploded. When I was working at a bookshop, every week there seemed to be a new series set in a futuristic, twisted world. Divergent, Matched, Birthmarked, The Maze Runner… There are some great ones out there. But it does make me laugh when old, classic dystopian fiction is now being rebranded to fit with this new trend. Before I left the bookshop, a new edition of Ender’s Game made it to the shelves, complete with the tagline ‘If you loved ‘The Hunger Games’, you’ll love this!‘. I suppose this is a good thing, as it is introducing the book a group of readers who may not have ever read it otherwise.
Ender’s Game was first published in 1985, and tells the story of Ender, a six year old boy who is recruited as a soldier to help battle an alien race who have attempted to invade the earth. After reading it, the first thing that springs to my mind when comparing it to some of the dystopian young adult books published recently is the lack of romantic entanglement. In pretty much every book I mentioned above, a strong element of the plot is the romance. There is a notable number of lot of love triangles. In Ender’s Game, Ender is six when the book begins, and twelve, I think (as I mentioned before, it was a while since I read the book, and some of the finer details have slipped my mind), when the book hits its climax. There is not even the possibility of any romantic interests – the only girls in the book is his sister Valentine, and one other recruit, whom he meets before he hits double digits. Ender’s Game is a book marketed to teenagers with a protagonist whom is pre-pubescent. I wonder, in the abundance of dystopian books being published at the moment, if Ender’s Game would be published now without a romantic hook.
I accidentally stumbled across the fact that Ender’s Game is being released as a film this year, starring Harrison Ford as Colonel Graff and Asa Butterfield (of Hugo fame) as Ender. Asa Butterfield is 15 years old. Hailee Steinfeld, from True Grit, is playing Petra Anderson. Neither of these actors could possibly pull off acting as children of six, nine, or even twelve years old. It looks like, in order to capture a teenage movie-going audience, the producers or the writers of Ender’s Game have decided to make Ender and his fellow recruits grow up a bit to be more appealing. Is this a bad thing? That is debatable. But I do think that this will make it quite a different movie. It is no longer a story about children of six, nine or twelve being trained to save the world, but teenagers being trained to save the world. Somehow, this is very different to me. I just hope that they don’t decide to throw in a romance to make it ‘more young-adult appealing’.