Book Review: Ender's Game: Inside the World of an Epic Adventure by Jed Alger

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Orson Scott Card’s original Ender’s Game science-fiction novel is nearly 30 years old. I’ve not read it. My knowledge of this award-winning book (which spawned a series of popular sequels) doesn’t extend beyond the enticing trailers I’ve seen for the upcoming motion picture. A gorgeously-produced, hardcover companion piece to the film has recently been published by Insight Editions. Ender’s Game: Inside the World of an Epic Adventure, written by Jed Alger, is loaded with photos, production art, and various tidbits that provide a deeper exploration of director Gavin Hood’s film.

Of course, the film hasn’t opened yet in the U.S. (it hits theaters November 1), but advance reviews provide reason to be optimistic. From the moment I saw the trailer, it seemed the film’s marketing campaign was fighting an uphill battle to market a film centering on a somewhat off-putting teen boy yet not alienate older viewers. Said boy, actor Asa Butterfield, stars as Andrew “Ender” Wiggin and his scowl is front-and-center on Alger’s book. Of course, having Harrison Ford and Ben Kingsley on board will go a long way toward roping in adult viewers, both of whom are featured in photos throughout. And the effects look pretty amazing, another aspect that is deeply explored in Insight’s book.

Ender's Game 1 (380x226).jpgFollowing a brief foreword by Hood, who explains his passion to make this film began immediately following reading the novel, we get into the first of four main sections, “Ender’s World.” Included are pre-production concepts and behind-the-scenes photos (something that continues in all sections). The challenges of establishing a post-alien invasion Earth are discussed in Alger’s text. We’re also introduced to Ender’s sister Valentine, portrayed by Abigail Breslin. The book really delves into visually interesting stuff with part two, “Battle School.” Here we get profiles of the “launchies,” new cadets training for the International Fleet. It’s within this section that the imagery really gets enticing for those of us who haven’t seen the film.

Ender's Game 2 (380x226).jpg“Inside Zero-G” deals with the intense effects work done by Digital Domain and the variety of wire-based effects that combined to achieve a realistic gravity-free training environment for the launchies. Finally, “Parallel Worlds” explores concepts that should probably only be closely examined by those who have seen the movie and/or read the book (it gets into spoiler-ish territory). We do get a closer look at the tattooed Mazer Rackham (played by Ben Kingsley), a legendary figure in Ender’s World.

Ender's Game 3 (380x226).jpgAs per usual with Insight’s coffee table books, all the great photos and art are printed on sturdy, thick paper stock. Straddling the line between a volume aimed at both older and younger fans, there are a few removable inserts tucked throughout. A pocket on the inner back cover holds two 11” x 17” International Fleet propaganda posters. There’s also a sheet of Battle School logo stickers and a reproduction of Ender’s ID badge. These items are easily removed, held in temporary place by a drop of easy-to-remove gummy adhesive. Be careful with the tape on the poster envelope, as I managed to rip the flap when I first attempting to remove it.

For more information about Insight Editions and their many collectible publications, visit their official website.

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Chaz Lipp is a Seattle-based freelance writer whose focus is music and film. As “The Other Chad,” he has written for the online magazine Blogcritics since 2008. When he’s not writing, Chaz can be found trolling jazz clubs, attempting to find somewhere to play his sax (whether anyone wants to hear…

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