Review: We Are the Ants by Shaun David Hutchinson
Author: Shaun David Hutchinson
Publisher: Simon Pulse
Publication Date: January 2016
Format/Source: ARC/From Publisher
Age Group/Genre: Young Adult/Contemporary, Science Fiction, LGBTQIA
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. (Cover and synopsis from Goodreads.)
CONFESSION: I really wish I had a finished copy of this book on hand because I would like to include so many beautiful quotes from We Are the Ants in my review, but I read an ARC and you’re not supposed to quote from that. :( But just take it from me–there are some really, really beautiful lines in this book. Some really fantastic writing.
And that’s not all I enjoyed about We Are the Ants. I just really loved the characters, and the whole idea that not only is Henry abducted by aliens, but his whole town knows about it. Most of them don’t believe him, but they know about it. It’s not something he’s hiding, although it’s not something he would have really wanted everyone to know. I also loved the humor that is sprinkled throughout this book. There’s definitely a more serious, dark tone to the book, but there are these great humorous moments that I loved.
But be forewarned, this is, like I said, a book with a dark tone to it. There are several things in it that would be triggering to some people. I don’t want to go into all the triggers here, because that would spoil the book, but if you’re thinking about reading it, and you’d like to know if it contains a certain kind of trigger, please feel free to contact me via Twitter or email and I can let you know if that trigger is included in this book.
And I also had one kind of issue with it: there’s a character that isn’t quite straight, but another character just assumes, because he’s had a relationship with a girl before, that he must be straight (which, in itself, is annoying). And then when it turns out the character isn’t straight, the character himself says something about just liking who he likes, which, to me, is better than the whole “I don’t like labels” thing but it’s almost the same. And before you go on a rant about how you don’t like labels, let me tell you why I don’t like it when people say “I don’t like labels” when it comes to sexuality. It’s because most of the time, the people who use this term, are, in essence, bisexual or pansexual. And because they say “I don’t like labels” they’re furthering the erasure of bisexuality and pansexuality. I understand not wanting to label yourself, especially if you’re still figuring out your sexuality, but when your sexuality is basically the same as a bisexual person and you say that you’re “not into labels” it really just perpetuates the false idea that bisexuality doesn’t exist. /end rant.
Anyway, regardless of all of that, I really, really enjoyed We Are the Ants. The writing was beautiful and the story was really compelling and, at times, heartbreaking. And I loved how there were little sections where different possible doomsday scenarios were played out. And have I mentioned the beautiful writing?
Shaun David Hutchinson got TONS of my Bonus Points for the following reasons:
- A Veronica Mars reference (I think this was the first book where I’ve ever seen a VMars ref!) = 50,000 points
- A Firefly reference = 50,000 points
- A Harry Potter reference = 50,000 points
- A reference to Whose Line Is It Anyway, especially because he mentioned the line “Everything’s made up and the points don’t matter” because I used to say that about these Bonus Points of mine = 1,000,000,000 points
- For dissing Creed and Nickelback = 50,000,000 points
- A Doctor Who reference = 50,000 points