The tale of Ender Wiggin as recounted in this book cannot just be written off as a coming-of-age tale. It is a perspective of how smart people see the world, the anguish of having to deal with day-to-day monotony and its mindnumbing effect on your intellect, the social ostracism among your peers on account of you being smarter than them, the pressure placed on you by your parents and teachers to strive for bigger and better things are but a few parts of this whole picture. I was not especially a bright kid at school or college but I have seen characters like Ender, Peter and Valentine and also seen what they go through in their daily lives as children. Ender’s story is not built around academics but around the making of a super soldier. A journey of intense physical and mental preparations, social isolation, blood and toil, enemies and friends and ultimately the building of an astute intellect. Ender Wiggins is a superman sans the red cape and the fear of Kryptonite for he never fails in battle or hand-to-hand combat. He is a weapon shaped by humanity against a mindless and brutal wave of alien enemies. Ender is humanity’s last hope and the men and women who train him show no mercy in building a ruthless commander out of him. It is akin to the Spartan tradition of starting young and building a fighting machine out of a child. By the time Ender becomes the best commander from planet Earth, he loses all touches of being a human child and his mindset hardens to something that I can guess would be similar to what Napoleon or Caesar in their hayday might have had.
As a reader, I preferred Valentine and Peter as better studies of character. The way they grow up and evolve had more depth and made more sense to me than Ender’s growth. While as a reader I do understand that Ender is a super soldier, logic tells me that even the ultimate warriors of history like Alexander have failed in battles. This does not make Ender an unbelievable character but gives him a superhuman aura and always puts him a step ahead of others. This tale is a fine example of leadership under high pressure situations and I relished each little moment of studying the battles and the team work that won them.
Rating this book at five stars and calling this a favorite was cemented by the last chapter of the book titled Speaker For The Dead. This one chapter was the best part of the book for me in terms of its setting and outcome. The one part where Ender empathisizes with the enemy and sets forth on a new mission in life was a stroke of brilliance and what could have ended as a run-of-the-mill military thriller becomes something else entirely.
The feeling that can even supercede the swell of pride in victory is the compassion you show for the other lifeforms on this galaxy is the message I came away with !