Written by Shaun David Hutchinson
Young Adult, LGBT, Science Fiction
Published January 19th 2016 by Simon Pulse
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There are a few things Henry Denton knows, and a few things he doesn’t.Henry has 144 days to prevent the end of the world. When he is abducted by aliens, Henry is told he has a choice. He can either press the button and save all of humanity, or let the world be destroyed (how he doesn't know, but he comes up with some pretty creative ideas). Henry chooses to wait, to see if the world is worth saving. He has until January 29th, 2016 to make up his mind - however, Henry will soon find that his choice is not all that easy. Life has never been easy for Henry Denton. Throughout high school he has been bullied, beat down and walked on by his peers. Not only that, but he's still struggling to comprehend why his boyfriend took his own life.
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.
Throughout the throng of 144 days, Henry must discover if his own unhappiness makes life worthless. He must battle depression and the underlying blame he puts on himself for the death of his boyfriend and for his dad leaving his family when he was just a child. But more importantly, Henry must discover if there is anything worth living for or if the world is just damned. His journey leads down many avenues from loss, to gain to friendship and to love.
I'm baffled by this story. I can't fully get a handle on if I really enjoyed this book or if I wanted to enjoy it so bad I've convinced myself I did. I was rather excited when I read the synopsis because I'm all for aliens and self discovery. I was super happy when I picked my copy of it up because it was at the top of my TBR. But I'm not sure if my expectations were too high, or if maybe it was way different than what I expected? This was a close four star read for me most definitely so in no way was it bad - it was just so unique, but in a way that makes me feel lost in my thoughts.
Let me start by saying that the tone and the voice of this book was so palpable. Henry is one of the most distinct characters I've read, he's humorous but in a dark and pessimistic way. It was sad at some points for sure, but I also found myself laughing at how real he was. I realized while reading that many of my thoughts were similar to Henry's. Frequently I do ask myself, is the world worth saving? Have we as a human race fucked up so bad that maybe we'd all be better off letting the planet be destroyed? I'm not someone who would instantly hit that big red button to save the world from annihilation. I'm just not, I wish I was but I'm really not. It was interesting to see what these 144 days would reveal to Henry - and maybe even to myself.
"'There's an amazing world out there for you to discover, Henry Denton, but you have to be willing to discover yourself first.'
The bell rang, saving me, and we all rose like Pavlovian dogs, eager to run to our next classes. Except Diego. He was still sitting, like he was waiting for me to say something, but I didn't know what. Finally I said, 'What if I don't give a shit about the world?'
Diego gathered our trash and frowned. 'I'd say that's pretty fucking sad.'
'Because the world is so beautiful.'"
That being said, I'm not entirely sure how I feel about the other characters. Marcus especially. He was a shitty person, but I couldn't help but pity him. Audrey didn't affect me in a huge way (I'm not sure if she was supposed to) but she was good to Henry so I was alright with her. Diego was another one that made me uneasy - I was worried that a love interest would be the reason to save the world. I absolutely did not want that because it's so cliche. Albeit, Diego was a mysterious and quirky character that I became fond of after a period of time. Henry was definitely my favorite though, he was an extremely entertaining character alongside Charlie and Nana.
The plot. The aliens. Shaun constructed such a weird but compelling tale. You can tell he poured a lot of heart and soul into this one. He took the time to understand the emotions of a teenager - of a person. I think that's what I loved most about We Are the Ants. It's so human, it's so undeniably real that I had to take a step back while I was reading. I loved the message that Shaun screamed throughout his clever, sharp and witty writing. I truly took something personal out of this story.
I did however find that I might have missed some hidden plot. This is no fault to the author, as I've never been all that perceptive. I got the vibes that the author was alluding to something else going on. But it just went way over my head. If someone could fill me in, please message me on Twitter because wow I'm slow and pretty sure I missed the memo on something.
We Are the Ants was a raw and heart wrenching portrayal of surviving the hardships of this world. It faces multiple issues ranging from bullying, abandonment, suicide, and mental illness. Shaun Hutchinson writes from the POV of a teenager and hits the nail right on the head. I loved Henry and I adored the message I got out of his story. I closed the book confident that if given the choice that I would save the world no matter the quality of my own life because there is always something worth living for. I absolutely recommend it, despite the fact that I'm still not 100% on how I feel.
Kynndra is going to work on her resume and prepare for the upcoming months where she will hopefully be moving back to Canada!