Review: We Are the Ants by Shaun David Hutchinson

We Are the Ants by Shaun David Hutchinson

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

We Are the Ants
Shaun David Hutchinson
Young Adult Fiction
Simon Pulse
January 19, 2016

Henry Denton doesn’t know why the aliens chose to abduct him when he was thirteen, and he doesn’t know why they continue to steal him from his bed and take him aboard their ship. He doesn’t know why the world is going to end or why the aliens have offered him the opportunity to avert the impending disaster by pressing a big red button.

But they have. And they’ve only given him 144 days to make up his mind.

Since the suicide of his boyfriend, Jesse, Henry has been adrift. He’s become estranged from his best friend, started hooking up with his sworn enemy, and his family is oblivious to everything that’s going on around them. As far as Henry is concerned, a world without Jesse is a world he isn’t sure is worth saving. Until he meets Diego Vega, an artist with a secret past who forces Henry to question his beliefs, his place in the universe, and whether any of it really matters. But before Henry can save the world, he’s got to figure out how to save himself, and the aliens haven’t given him a button for that.

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