(or seen the movie, if you think that still counts).
Feel free to read ahead if you don't care either which way.
Disclaimer: If you've seen the movie and think it's close enough, I'm telling you to look in your heart. You know it's not.
The story starts with 6 year old Andrew Wiggin (henceforth known as Ender) getting his "monitor" removed because THEY are convinced he's the one to save the world, the one to end (hence the nickname, Ender) the wars with the Buggers, an alien species that kind of look like human-sized ants. The removal of the monitor is like a final test of how he will handle himself without these people constantly reading his mind (that's what the monitor does basically). He's immediately targeted by the class bully. How does adorable 6 year old Ender deal with this? He uses his advanced mental ability to beat the bully to death. The sad thing is A) he's 6. B) He isn't even aware he killed the guy. C) He only did it, so he wouldn't be bullied again. D) The people were aware of what was happening and they let it play out.
He spends like 4 years at battle school, only killing one person (against his will of course) and then he advances to Command school where he unknowingly wipes out all the Buggers. I understand a lot of this won't make sense if you don't know the material.
So the points I would like to bring up after that pointless summary (pointless if you've read the book) are the following:
1- Was it necessary for them to trick Ender into committing genocide?
2- Could they have used Peter instead?
3- What would they have done if Ender had tried to commit suicide or something?
4- What kind of role did Valentine play in Ender's childhood that she had such influence on him later?
5- IT'S SO UPSETTING THAT THE WHOLE TIME ENDER TRIES SO HARD TO NOT BE LIKE PETER, BUT DOES ANYWAY AND UGHHHH IT'S NOT OKAY
6- Key points the movie leaves out.
1- So, when my dad finished it I discussed this particular question with him. In his adult opinion it was completely necessary. He could see that if they hadn't tricked Ender into doing it, he wouldn't have succeeded. But my opinion is they didn't even need to attack the freaking buggers again. In the last chapter, Ender has this weird communication with the last reincarnation of the bugger race and basically they apologise for attacking the humans in the first place. They didn't think there was other life in the universe and once they realised the human race was intelligent they were backing off.
2- Also, they could have used Peter. They would just have to have manipulated him in a completely different way than they did with Ender. Obviously, they couldn't train both of them at the same time because Ender was afraid of Peter and it's possible he would have killed Ender in a fit of rage. He's a nutcase.
3- Seriously. All throughout the book Major Anderson keeps asking Graff what is going to happen if they manage to "break" Ender before the war is over or even started. I don't think he would have committed suicide (it was just a what if?), but what would they have done without him? Would they have withdrawn their fleets that were already heading to the bugger planets? Would they have forced Mazer to fight the simulated battles and then potentially have lost the war? Who knows? Which is why in a sense, I understand that they had to manipulate Ender in such a way that he couldn't have lost even if he wanted to. There was room for improvement in how they did it though.
4- So the IF (Interplanetary Fleet) use Valentine twice as a means of convincing/manipulating Ender into continuing and progressing with his saving the world thing. And based on the narrative, multiple times in their childhood, when Peter was being particularly ruthless, she would defend and protect Ender. According to Ender, she is the only person in the world who loved him and who he loved back. What a beautiful bond.
5- I'M GONNA WRITE THIS WHOLE PARAGRAPH IN CAPS BECAUSE OF HOW MUCH I JUST UGHHHHHHH!!!!! VALENTINE'S SOLE PURPOSE, PRETTY MUCH, IS TO CONVINCE ENDER THAT HE'S NOT LIKE PETER. PETER ENJOYS TORTURING PEOPLE AND ENDER IS COMPASSIONATE, BUT HE ALSO HAPPENS TO HAVE A KILLER INSTINCT. WHICH AS IT TURNS OUT IS WHY HE'S PERFECT FOR THE JOB. BUT HE DOESN'T WANT TO BE A KILLER. WHEN HE FIRST FINDS OUT HE JUST KILLED AN ENTIRE RACE THIS IS HIS REACTION :"I didn't want to kill them all. I didn't want to kill anybody! I'm not a killer! You didn't want me,... you wanted Peter, but you made me do it, you tricked me into it!" He was crying" -page 298
SERIOUSLY?!?!?! And that is why Ender Wiggin is number one on the list of fictional characters I just want to hug and never let anyone touch them, or ruin their innocence.
6- There are heaps of things the movie leaves out because it's a 324 page book and a two hour movie. The movie doesn't discuss the fact that Ender doesn't want to be like Peter. They show that they despise eachother, but meh.... In the movie Ender becomes friends with one of his enemies from battle school, Bernard. In the book, Ender outsmarts him and Bernard hates him, but leaves him alone. The movie ages Ender quite a bit, for obvious reasons, but in the book Ender is 6 when he starts battle school and 11 when he commits genocide. It kind of softens the impact of the whole "training killer children" thing because Ender in the movie is like 14, 15. Lastly, in the book, Ender spends like two weeks training Dragon army and then they start fighting two battles in a day, two armies at once and such. In the movie, they fight like one battle and you don't get the impression that Ender is being worn out because he's just a child, but you also don't see his tactical abilities.
And if none of that convinced you of this books awesomeness and relativeness and sadness, observe the following...
"He was a soldier, and if anyone had asked him what he wanted to be when he grew up, he wouldn't have known what they meant." -Page 224