Title: We are the Ants
Author: Shaun David Hutchinson
Publication: January 19th 2016 by Simon Pulse
Genre: YA, Contemporary, Science Fiction
Pages: 455 pages
Format: Library book
There are a few things Henry Denton knows, and a few things he doesn’t.
Henry knows that his mom is struggling to keep the family together, and coping by chain-smoking cigarettes. He knows that his older brother is a college dropout with a pregnant girlfriend. He knows that he is slowly losing his grandmother to Alzheimer’s. And he knows that his boyfriend committed suicide last year.
What Henry doesn’t know is 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.
The question is whether Henry thinks the world is worth saving. That is, 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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So here’s the alphabetical run down:
Every character in We are the Ants is incredibly realistically flawed, painfully so. Hutchinson does an amazing job balancing his characters’ painful realities with the sci-fi twist of his main character, Henry, being occasionally abducted by aliens. Henry is a very cynical, but hilarious narrator that provides comic relief to some of the very dark circumstances throughout the book.
There are so many incredible characters in this book that I can’t go into detail about all of them. They are all very well developed and Hutchinson gives a lot of insight into the motives of his characters actions. Even through some of the really tough situations, you get a sense of the pain that certain characters are experiencing that attributes to their choices, whether good or bad.
I like this cover, the spiraling stars, the colors of sky turning to dusk, and the silhouette of the trees. It’s not most alluring cover I’ve ever seen, but it doesn’t detract from the story at all, so that’s a positive.
Hutchinson’s writing is spectacular. He uses complicated scientific explanations of things in the universe as a metaphor for the feelings and relationships of his characters. We are the Ants is really a contemporary, coming of age novel with a sci-fi twist. Henry being abducted by aliens is actually not the main theme of the story, but what hurting broken people will do to one another and the effect it has on their lives. The picture that Hutchinson creates of high school and bullying is honestly frightening to me in that it is probably more accurate than I realize. (I’ve been out of high school for a while.)
Also, dispersed throughout the story are very scientifically detailed chapters hypothesizing about how the world ends. Some are more serious, some are absolutely hilarious. There isn’t any reason given for them, but do know that by the end of the book you will understand why they are there.
“You spend your life hoarding memories against the day when you’ll lack the energy to go out and make new ones, because that’s the comfort of old age. The ability to look back on your life and know that you left your mark on the world. But I’m losing my memory. It’s like someone’s broken into my piggy bank and is robbing me one penny at a time. It’s happening so slowly, I can hardly tell what’s missing.”
“Dreams are hopeful because they exist as pure possibility. Unlike memories, which are fossils, long dead and buried deep.”
“Depression isn’t a war you win. It’s a battle you fight every day. You never get to stop, never get to rest. It’s one bloody fray after another.”
“Maybe love doesn’t require falling after all. Maybe it only requires that you choose to be in it.”
This book was difficult for me to give a rating, and I understand why there are many 5 star reviews. The writing is incredible, but the hopelessness with which the author still leaves the reader at the end of the book I just couldn’t accept. I have hope in this life, and it’s not in myself. I still enjoyed this book immensely and would recommend it, but only to a mature YA audience.