This book was many things: an existential crisis of a high school boy, a saga of grief after the suicide of a boyfriend, a horrific tale of bullying, and a beautiful love story. Henry Denton is abducted by aliens periodically from the time he is 13. The “sluggers,” as he calls them, take him back to their ship and run experiments on them. Most recently they have told him that the Earth is going to be destroyed on January 29, 2016 unless he presses a button to make the “sluggers” stop whatever catastrophe is coming.
Seems pretty straightforward, right? Just press the button. Sadly, not. Henry has had a rough life, and he’s just not sure he should let humanity carry on. The novel spans roughly 6 months – the time Henry has to make his decision. During that time we get a pretty clear picture of Henry’s past, and we learn the present state of his life and the lives of those around him.
This book was hard to read (well, listen to). I felt bad for Henry as horrible thing after horrible thing happened to him. I enjoyed his family’s dynamics though. His grandmother, mother, and brother were all interesting and complex characters. They had their own struggles and challenges, but yet they knew instantly what they’d do in Henry’s situation.
There are also some great friendships in this book. Henry’s ex-boyfriend’s best friend (and his good friend), Audrey, was insightful and sweet and fiercely loyal. Henry’s new friend, Diego, is talented and passionate and has a complicated background of his own. I enjoyed the chronicles of their friendships, but ultimately this book kind of dragged for me.
The various end-of-the-world disaster descriptions interspersed between chapters were rather interesting, but I just wanted to know what Henry was going to do. And, honestly, as a mother, I just wanted someone to rescue him – stop the bullying, help him understand that Jesse’s suicide was not his fault, and force him to realize that life was worth living.
Rating: 3 Stars