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Editorial Reviews

With a full cast production, this highly-entertaining dramatization of the award-winning military science fiction story Ender's Game will wow fans as well as listeners new to this classic. Using an original screenplay written by Orson Scott Card himself, the audioplay takes listeners through Battle School with prodigy Ender Wiggin.

The cast fleshes out their characters with full personalities and motivations - in particular, the actors who portray the children at Battle School do a wonderful job in bringing out their precociousness and fading innocence. The action scenes are brisk and electrifying, and listeners will be swept up in the events of the story.

Publisher's Summary

Audie Award Finalist, Multi-Voiced Performance, 2014

Audie Award Finalist, Original Work, 2014

Experience Ender's Game as you've never heard it before! With an all-new, original script written by Orson Scott Card, Ender's Game Alive is a full cast audio drama that reimagines the Hugo and Nebula Award-winning classic.

Ender’s Game Alive puts you into Battle School with young Andrew "Ender" Wiggin, as he trains to become the general who will lead Earth against the Formics, the alien "buggers". Removed from his family at the age of six, Ender must prove his strength and his leadership, even as he fights his own doubts. The stakes are nothing less than the fate of humankind.

Ender's Game Alive is performed by Kirby Heyborne, Stefan Rudnicki, Theodore Bikel, Scott Brick, Samantha Eggar, Harlan Ellison, Susan Hanfield, Roxanne Hernandez, Janis Ian, Rex Linn, Richard McGonagle, Jim Meskimen, Emily Rankin, John Rubinstein, Christian Rummel, and a full cast.

Directed by Gabrielle de Cuir

Original Score by John Rubinstein

Valentine's Theme by Janis Ian

Additional music and arrangements by Mark Mitchell

©2013 Orson Scott Card (P)2013 Audible, Inc.

Critic Reviews

“Listeners will feel surrounded by Card's sophisticated, high-stakes universe. With a stately musical score and video-game sound effects, this "re-imagined" production sticks close to the novel while offering listeners an entertaining new way to enjoy one of science fiction's best loved stories.” ( AudioFile)

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Story

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  • Overall
    5 out of 5 stars
  • Performance
    5 out of 5 stars
  • Story
    4 out of 5 stars

A fresh new way to enjoy the story

This is an interesting change from the typical way a story is told, with a narrator describing what is going on and also performing the character dialogue.

In this version, it is entirely dialogue. There is no narration whatsoever. To support this, the story has been adapted slightly so that events that were described in the book from a narrator's point of view are written in as dialogue when possible, or described after the fact in a conversation.

Surprisingly, this doesn't negatively affect the impact of the scenes where these things are happening. I found the dialogue-based version of events to be even more evocative. There is a lot more dialogue with Col. Graff and his fellow battle school administrators, and they do much more exploration of Ender's motives, thoughts, and actions.

As someone who has previously read Ender's Game as a novel, I get the sense that this version of the story might be harder to follow for someone who is experiencing it for the first time. However, I find the cast performance adds more than it takes away. It is easier to feel empathy for Ender and the other characters in this version.

Overall, I found that as a prior reader of the novel, this was a completely new way to enjoy the story, and definitely worth the listen.

43 of 44 people found this review helpful

  • Overall
    4 out of 5 stars
  • Performance
    5 out of 5 stars
  • Story
    4 out of 5 stars
  • Ryan
  • MOTT, ND, United States
  • 10-24-13

Don't start with this audiobook.

If you've read or listened to Ender's Game in the past, this is a new and interesting way to listen. If you've never read/listened to Ender's Game, I suggest you buy the 20th Anniversary unabridged edition. The problem I have with this version is so much of the character building is cut. Characters like "Hot Soup" have a line here or there, but if you haven't listened to the unabridged book you have no idea who this person is or why they matter in the slightest.

The biggest problem I have is, you just don't get the personal connection to Ender in this version that you get in the unabridged audiobook. Without that personal connection, you simply care less about what's happening and why. The plot moves so quickly you have no time to appreciate what Ender's going through and the effect it's having on him. You don't understand the torment he's going through like you should. Without that, this is simply a good listen instead of great listen.

The voice acting is top notch. Stefen Rudnicki does an amazing job, as always. Kirby Heyborne does a really good job as Ender. He reminds me of a soft spoken Johnny Yong Bosch, if you're familiar with his work. I haven't been able to find a cast list for the book, but I've recognized a couple of pretty famous voices, including Martin Sheen, which is pretty cool. Some actors are better than others, but nobody does a poor job.

Overall, I enjoyed this very much. If you've read/listened to Ender's Game before I definitely suggest picking this up and giving it a try. If you haven't, read or listen to the unabridged book first. You'll likely get hooked and continue listening to the other books in this universe like I did. There aren't many Sci-Fi universes as interesting and expertly crafted as this one out there. Do yourself a favor and get into it, and years down the road when you're in the mood to listen again, pick this up and give it a try. You'll likely be glad you did, and be glad you read/listened to the unabridged book first.

187 of 201 people found this review helpful

  • Overall
    5 out of 5 stars
  • Performance
    5 out of 5 stars
  • Story
    5 out of 5 stars
  • DR
  • READFIELD, ME, United States
  • 10-28-13

delightful surprise

Where does Ender's Game Alive: The Full Cast Audioplay rank among all the audiobooks you’ve listened to so far?

It's as good as any of those that I've given 5 stars to.

What other book might you compare Ender's Game Alive: The Full Cast Audioplay to and why?

The original Ender's Game, and the whole lot of the Ender's series. I've listened to them all as audiobooks, as long ago as I actually have some on cassette tape still!

I was skeptical at first as many "full cast" recordings are not as good as the original books, if the originals are well read.

I watched Card discussing how this recording would be different, if not better, than the original, so I decided to give it a shot. I really enjoyed that many of the original readers were used on this project as well.

This was certainly the best full cast recording of a book I've listened to, and on a par with the other audio Ender books. It is just different enough to make it a worthwhile read, and I really am glad I listened to it.

Which character – as performed by Full Cast Recording – was your favorite?

I appreciated the "old voices" from the other Ender books which I loved.

Was this a book you wanted to listen to all in one sitting?

It was and I did!

Any additional comments?

If this is your first foray into the "Ender-verse", enjoy. If you are a long time reader/listener, I suspect you will enjoy this version as well. It was certainly worth using a credit on it. I'm glad I did experience it, and it's different enough from the original Ender's Game to keep one interested.

7 of 7 people found this review helpful

  • Overall
    5 out of 5 stars
  • Performance
    5 out of 5 stars
  • Story
    5 out of 5 stars
  • Jennifer
  • Collingwood Corner, NS, Canada
  • 10-27-13

It's Aliiiive!

For fans of the series, and those who have never encountered it before, this is a truly fantastic listen.

I was a bit skeptical at first, as I don't always enjoy audio play versions of books I've enjoyed, but this? This was marvelous. There were some new additions that weren't there the first go through, but nothing so big as to completely change the story. The various actors involved did a fantastic job of, yes, bringing the story alive.

This is very much worth a credit, even if only seven hours long.

6 of 6 people found this review helpful

  • Overall
    4 out of 5 stars
  • Performance
    4 out of 5 stars
  • Story
    4 out of 5 stars

Nice addition to the Ender Collection

Although I really enjoyed this performance, I would only recommend it to those who have read or heard the original Ender's Game novel. liked it, and remember it. This version follows the basic plot fairly closely, but this is very much like listening to a long movie audio track - it's the story told with only dialog and sound effects. What you don't get it is OSC's wonderful prose with the symbolism woven through and the descriptions of the children, the battle school, the contests, etc. If you have read/heard the book and remember most of it, your brain will easily fill in the missing descriptions, but it wouldn't be as much fun without knowing the original story first. The original Ender's Game novel was entertaining and both poignant and thought-provoking. This Audioplay version is mostly entertaining - not as touching or provocative - but nothing wrong with that and I certainly don't regret the listen.

As expected, the audio for this version is first-rate - nicely produced, great narrators, and good quality sound throughout. I had only one issue. Most of the children's voices are done by young adults and they sound alright for boys and girls who are 10 or 12 or older. However many of the children in the book are only 8 and Ender is only 6 when the story begins and 11 at the end, yet in this Audioplay he sounds like he is at least a young teen throughout. It is hard to grasp the trauma done to that child when he doesn't sound like the really little kid he was in the story. Independent of how brilliant a child might be, a 6 year old will never sound like a teenager. The part of Bean is read by a women and she didn't sound quite right to me either.

Minor issue with the casting was not enough to interfere with my real enjoyment of the Audioplay. Recommended to all Ender fans.

8 of 9 people found this review helpful

  • Overall
    5 out of 5 stars
  • Performance
    5 out of 5 stars
  • Story
    5 out of 5 stars
  • michael
  • Young Harris, GA, United States
  • 10-23-13

It's not an audio book, it's theatre for the mind!

I first read Ender's Game when I was a young man. The original book and its sequels have always been one of my favorite Science Fiction adventures, and I was reluctant to listen to Ender's Game Alive, in fear of being disappointed by someone tinkering with near perfection. But I was wrong, really, really wrong. This production is amazing, the cast is superb. Although only 7 and 1/2 hours long, I was engrossed from the first chapter and happily relived the story of the little boy who had the fate of the world heaped upon his unsuspecting shoulders. The competition between Battle-School students, the rivalry between Ender and his brother Peter, the unbreakable bond between Ender and his sister Valentine, and most of all, the genius of Col. Graph, who is charged with molding Ender Wiggins into the one and only little boy soldier in the entire world who can save the Earth from certain destruction. If you have never read the book, read it first. The original is a masterpiece. But then, lie back and relax, listen as Ender Wiggins comes to life in the theatre of your mind.

15 of 18 people found this review helpful

  • Overall
    5 out of 5 stars
  • Performance
    5 out of 5 stars
  • Story
    5 out of 5 stars
  • Jacobus
  • Johannesburg, South Africa
  • 10-23-13

Be careful, this story is addictive

Before now, I have never read or listened to Orson Scott Card’s Ender’s Game epic. It is possible that I might never have done so, was it not for the hype created by Audible releasing the first three chapters of “Ender’s Game Alive” before the official release this full cast audio drama. It was while listening to the first free chapters that I got seriously hooked.

I understand that Orson Scott Card rewrote his original Ender’s Game into this audio drama. Performed by a full cast directed by Gabrielle de Cuir this is probably one of the best audio drama’s I have listened to. A good story coloured presented by an excellent voice cast and music specially adapted for this audio drama makes it not only a winner, it becomes an addiction. Be warned, you might not stop listening until the very end. This is one of the best audio drama’s I have ever heard.

The storyline is very basic. The listener finds him-/herself in the Wiggin’s home on earth some years in the future. One is aware that something is amiss because married couples may only have two children. You become aware that the genetically engineered Peter and Valentine Wiggin’s parents are allowed to have a third child, because Peter and Valentine weren’t completely the right material to enter Battle School. Thus came about Andrew “Ender” Wiggin. All humankind’s hope seems to be fixed on him to free the human race from an extra-terrestrial threat called the Formics. To do so, however, Ender Wiggen is admitted to Battle School at the age of 6 years.

The audio drama is based on these formative years of Ender. What makes it very effective is the way the line between what is real and what is practise are blurred until almost the very end when the pieces of the puzzle falls in place. I thought it was done neatly and convincingly.

This audio drama is an excellent suspense drama wrapped in a science fiction cloak. I believe that those who have enjoyed Ender’s Game in the past as well as those of us who are new to this science fiction classic will enjoy a five star performance of a five star story.

11 of 13 people found this review helpful

  • Overall
    4 out of 5 stars
  • Performance
    5 out of 5 stars
  • Story
    4 out of 5 stars
  • Ron
  • Basehor, KS, United States
  • 10-23-13

No Buggers just Formics.


This version has been edited from the original version and become more streamlined with some of the finer details cut. I am sure that some of the purist will be disappointed with the edits and cuts but overall I still found the book to be enjoyable. It was like listening to an old time radio broadcast of a play being performed.

This is a classic by Orson Scott Card and is the first book in the Enders series. This was originally written as a standalone book but the author has gone back to expanded the universe. So if you enjoyed this one and would like to see what happens next there are several more books to follow this one. In Ender's Game humanity finds itself at war with space aliens that are basically giant bugs. I found myself forgetting at times how young the "soldiers" were. When Ender starts at the War School he is only 6 years old, but Ender and the other soldiers there are unlike any child you know. They are all genus children being trained to command an Army against hostile bugs. If you haven't read this one yet I would definitely pick this one up. Plus Hollywood is making a movie based on this book and is coming out soon.

10 of 12 people found this review helpful

  • Overall
    3 out of 5 stars
  • Performance
    4 out of 5 stars
  • Story
    4 out of 5 stars

The enemy of Good, is Better

Would you try another book from Orson Scott Card and/or Full Cast Recording?

I would jump at another Full Cast Recording, it was a stellar job in bringing the book to life as well as the welcome addition of a few sound effects that enhanced the experience. Orson Card has a very specific voice, and when he brings his style to a genre, you're either a fan, or not so much.

What did you like best about this story?

Stefan Rudnicki has always sounded like a congested rabbi when he reads a book, but I will say I very much enjoyed him as part of a cast. Well done!

Any additional comments?

Card added a few things here and there to "make this the best version of the book". As a book, I encourage people to read the kindle version first. As an e-book, please believe me that there is a reason it will give you a better experience than a hard copy. It also reads better in people's heads as they are exposed to these brilliant children and their oddly inconsistent dialogue. They are children, so there are the usual fart jokes, as well as geniuses, so their thought process is agreeable. I think Card did a disservice by holding a reader's hand a little too much and spelling things out in a key conversation between Ender and a teacher. In what was originally a beautiful twist and roller coaster type climax, his additions completely neutered the wow factor and limped across the finish line. I would not return to this book for fun, and I can only really recommend the sections of battle school and command school, the ending, at least in this version, I can almost skip entirely. Kindle this book first!

6 of 7 people found this review helpful

  • Overall
    3 out of 5 stars
  • Performance
    5 out of 5 stars
  • Story
    2 out of 5 stars

The downsides of a movie, in audiobook form

I listened to this after having heard the original book more than once, so maybe I'm biased, but this movie really felt like somebody just recorded the audio from a movie.

Unlike the original story, you can't hear Ender's thoughts so you have the whole deal where everyone is trying to explain what's going on in his head without any personal insight.

There's also slight tweaks to the story that I didn't care for much. I guess I should have foresaw these problems, but I kinda went into this expecting basically just the original story with more actors.

The performance and sound effects were great though, so five stars there at least.

2 of 2 people found this review helpful

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  • Overall
    3 out of 5 stars
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    3 out of 5 stars
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    5 out of 5 stars
  • HR
  • 11-03-13

Could have been great. Was only okay.

What made the experience of listening to Ender's Game Alive: The Full Cast Audioplay the most enjoyable?

Ender's Game is a fantastic story to begin with and with the author writing the dramatisation it means all the important bits are left in.

Any additional comments?

BUT.The musical intervals were horrible and could be quite off-putting. And although the cast did a good job, having adult-sounding children was also a little ... irritating. If they can make a movie of this fantastic story using child actors, why couldn't they do the same with this dramatisation?So overall, a good way to spend a lazy Sunday. But would have been better with age-appropriate actors and NO music!

5 of 5 people found this review helpful

  • Overall
    5 out of 5 stars
  • Performance
    5 out of 5 stars
  • Story
    5 out of 5 stars
  • Alex
  • 03-27-14

An excellent adaptation of the original.

Would you consider the audio edition of Ender's Game Alive: The Full Cast Audioplay to be better than the print version?

Having never read the print version but listened to the entirety of the Ender Universe on audio books, it's hard to say if this is better than the print version. What I can say is that lived up to expectation and really helped to bring the characters to life and add to the story in subtle ways.

Who was your favorite character and why?

Due to the way Scott Card uses third parties to convey to the reader what happens in Ender's head in the original text, Colonel Graff takes an even larger role and could easily be my favourite character - especially read so brilliantly by Stefan Rudnicki who is one of the greatest narrators I have had the pleasure of listening to.

Which character – as performed by Full Cast Recording – was your favourite?

See above - Graff by Stefan Rudnicki.

Did you have an emotional reaction to this book? Did it make you laugh or cry?

Having already trodden the entire path of the Ender Universe, one cannot help but be emotionally attached to the central characters and this performance only adds to that. To isolate any particular emotion would be to diminish the impact of the performance.

Any additional comments?

I implore anyone to continue the journey. But go through the Shadow Saga next, then Ender in Exile and then pick up the thread of Ender's story with Speaker for the Dead. it is one of the greatest stories ever told and finishing the saga makes you feel like you've just said goodbye to your closest group of friends. I had to go back and do them all again to satisfy my need for more!

3 of 3 people found this review helpful

  • Overall
    3 out of 5 stars
  • Performance
    2 out of 5 stars
  • Story
    4 out of 5 stars
  • Karen
  • 01-01-15

Good story but poor performance

The story is good and easy to follow but I just couldn't get past the performance. The voices were ALL wrong and just spoiled it, I had to stop listening.

1 of 1 people found this review helpful

  • Overall
    5 out of 5 stars
  • Performance
    5 out of 5 stars
  • Story
    5 out of 5 stars
  • Thomas
  • 12-01-13

classic sci-fi

Would you consider the audio edition of Ender's Game Alive: The Full Cast Audioplay to be better than the print version?

Whilst some things are lost in this version, the dramatisation of the book works well with great performances.

What did you like best about this story?

This is a great story, a classic sci-fi novel with intrigue, humour, and storytelling

Which character – as performed by Full Cast Recording – was your favourite?

the grown-ups do tend to be better

Did you have an emotional reaction to this book? Did it make you laugh or cry?

no

Any additional comments?

no

1 of 1 people found this review helpful

  • Overall
    4 out of 5 stars
  • Performance
    5 out of 5 stars
  • Story
    4 out of 5 stars
  • Andrew John Rae
  • 12-01-13

Dark but Gripping Story Well Told.

I first read Ender's Game when I was in early high school. It deals with some rather dark subjects - child soldiers, bullying, and pre-emptive "self defence" on both a personal and civilisation level.

The central plot concerns "battle school", an orbital facility for training child geniuses to command fleets and armies against the "buggers" - traditional insectoid space invaders. The protagonist, Andrew "Ender" Wiggan, has been pre-selected as commander-in-chief, and his experience at battle school is carefully designed to shape him as the perfect leader, regardless of the emotional or physical cost to Ender and the other students.

The original novel is almost entirely from Ender's point of view, with small and ambiguous interludes from adult perspectives. This new production is an audio play. Since nothing can be directly described, scenes that were previously from Ender's point of view are now recounted as conversations between the adults, significantly expanding these roles. This works very well, creating a simpler, cleaner story.

Some small changes have been made to the story, increasing or decreasing the significance of various scenes, but without removing or adding major plot elements.

The side-plot of Peter and Valentine Wiggan, Ender's siblings, has been retained but reduced in size and importance.

1 of 1 people found this review helpful

  • Overall
    4 out of 5 stars
  • Performance
    4 out of 5 stars
  • Story
    5 out of 5 stars
  • WJE Hoppitt
  • 11-29-13

A good adaptation of a great story

I very much enjoyed the audiobook version of "Ender's Game", so I was keen to get this play version too. After reading other pretty negative reviews, I was worried the acting would be very wooden. However, I was pleasantly surprised- whilst the acting is not up to the standard of some of the finest radio examples, like Ian Holm's Frodo in the BBC's Lord of the Rings, I found it to be perfectly adequate. The adaptation of the book to a play script was also very good, such that I think someone who has not read or listened to the original will also be able to enjoy the play.

1 of 1 people found this review helpful

  • Overall
    2 out of 5 stars
  • Performance
    1 out of 5 stars
  • Story
    5 out of 5 stars
  • Ollie
  • 10-23-13

Terrible

Any additional comments?

This was really disapointing. It is such a great story, and the cast really didnt do it justice. It is like the cast never met...like they recorded their parts in total isolation of each other. The whole thing lacked personality.

1 of 1 people found this review helpful

  • Overall
    5 out of 5 stars
  • Performance
    5 out of 5 stars
  • Story
    5 out of 5 stars
  • Mac
  • 04-17-18

great!

I have read the book but this brings it to life. Great voice performance! highly recommended

  • Overall
    3 out of 5 stars
  • Performance
    3 out of 5 stars
  • Story
    3 out of 5 stars
  • Amazon Customer
  • 01-31-18

I'd rather listen to someone reading the book

I feel you lose so much in an adaptation, if I hadn't bought this as part of a two for one deal, I'd have returned it pretty early on.

  • Overall
    4 out of 5 stars
  • Performance
    4 out of 5 stars
  • Story
    5 out of 5 stars
  • Amazon Customer
  • 12-03-17

The music !

As usual this story is amazing even in this format I felt sometimes some of the music parts were too long however the intensity of music was about right

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    5 out of 5 stars
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    5 out of 5 stars
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    5 out of 5 stars
  • Anonymous User
  • 09-28-18

Just a Random Person

This is a masterpiece, I truly felt like I was there with Ender and that the world was real. It showed me things a simple 1-hour long movie never could, keep up the great work and I look forward to more Full Cast Recordings.

  • Overall
    5 out of 5 stars
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    5 out of 5 stars
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    5 out of 5 stars
  • Anonymous User
  • 09-27-18

perfect

at first I didn't like the idea of this story because of my dislike for live action movies but I found out more about Ender and is backstory from a fanfiction and I grew to fall in love with the little guy and decided to get this audio book to learn his full story,