It has been ten years since I held my heart. Held it like it might surge out of my chest if I didn’t. Held it with one hand in calm silence while I stood before them and watched.
Already it was different for them.
Different because a book can do that–make a difference. Different because each held close to his face a new paperback of Ender’s Game.
And life was stirring in the words.
And so their eyes devoured. And their fingers followed, scrunching the top right corners of each new page, begging their eyes to move faster, their brain to absorb.
Boys in backward baseball caps, girls with dangling earrings. Kids in hooded sweatshirts, football jerseys, saxophones at their feet. All tenth graders–28 of them. All stuffed into graffitied desks. All lost in the pages of Ender’s Game. Lost. But found.
I found Ender’s Game when I was in high school, too. But I wouldn’t have found it if a persistent friend hadn’t pushed it into my hands. “Read it,” he’d said. And I’d known from the sci-fi-ey cover alone that I’d be miserable for the three weeks I’d take to drag through the chapters. Bleh. I couldn’t wait.
But what really happened is that I lost myself in the story. The story. Yes. Orson Scott Card had written a book that was 100% science fiction and 100% story. He’d also crafted characters that I cared for immensely. Ender, Bean, Petra. Children in extraordinary roles. What Card did (decades before The Hunger Games) was humanize science fiction and leave none of us untouched. By book’s end, the only thing I couldn’t wait to do was hear someone tell me there was a sequel. Please. Let there be another book.
In my classroom, I was Santa Claus, giving a gift I knew would be loved. And I was watching kids who hadn’t given a rip about reading, suddenly wanting to read. Choosing to read.
Today I’m disappointed. Saddened, really.
Saddened for all those who have held a special place for Ender’s Game AND for all those who’ve not read Ender’s Game yet, and now, might never.
Because the movie does not do what the book did for us. Which is cause us to care.
For any book made into a movie, there’s little surprise to hear that the book was better. But friend, it isn’t just that the book was better here, it’s that the movie skimped on relationships.
Relationships were the heart beat of Ender’s Game. And yet the movie didn’t give us time to believe in, or fall for, or trust in anyone. My heart was wrung for Ender of the book. And I wanted to feel something for the Ender of the movie, wanted to believe, empathize, anything…because I knew I should. But after two hours–TWO HOURS– I felt nothing. Nothing at all.
I can see Ender’s Game on our book shelf from where I sit. It deserves to be there.
And it deserves the recognition of a movie. However…
This isn’t it. Isn’t enough. Isn’t right.
So friend, relish your book. Value the written word.
See the movie, if you must.