WE ARE THE ANTS
by Shaun David Hutchinson
Hardcover: 464 pages
Publisher: Simon Pulse (January 19, 2016)
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Henry Denton has spent years being periodically abducted by aliens. Then the aliens give him an ultimatum: The world will end in 144 days, and all Henry has to do to stop it is push a big red button.
Only he isn’t sure he wants to.
After all, life hasn’t been great for Henry. His mom is a struggling waitress held together by a thin layer of cigarette smoke. His brother is a jobless dropout who just knocked someone up. His grandmother is slowly losing herself to Alzheimer’s. And Henry is still dealing with the grief of his boyfriend’s suicide last year.
Wiping the slate clean sounds like a pretty good choice to him.
But Henry is a scientist first, and facing the question thoroughly and logically, he begins to look for pros and cons: in the bully who is his perpetual one-night stand, in the best friend who betrayed him, in the brilliant and mysterious boy who walked into the wrong class. Weighing the pain and the joy that surrounds him, Henry is left with the ultimate choice: push the button and save the planet and everyone on it…or let the world—and his pain—be destroyed forever.
We We Are the Ants gets straight to the point with its first line: "Life is bullsh*t." That short, simple sentence left a huge impression on me. It spoke volumes about what I could expect from the main character and the writing and the entire approach of the story. I absolutely loved how this book started out. What I loved more, though, was that the rest of the book was just as great!
This is a story of a guy trying to figure out the point in life. He tries to find an explanation for why his boyfriend committed suicide, and that can be such a hard thing to do. If he could find a reason, it would give him more reason to live--more reason to press a button and save the world.
This book is . . . sad. I'm not sure if it can be described as survivor's guilt, but Henry sure reminded me of a character with it. Jesse's death had a huge impact on Henry's life and he felt like he was at fault. Watching him try to piece together the reasoning--all the while dealing with bullies, family, emotions--behind Jesse's death made my brain churn a bit. There were a lot of thought provoking statements. Honest ones, too, that made the book even more engrossing.
While the genre seemed primarily contemporary, there were some cool sci-fi elements. The alien abduction scenes seemed pretty short and no specific alien was a character. They helped make the story stand out because I rarely see them in books (the only other one I can remember seeing them in was Slaughter House Five by Kurt Vonnegut). There were a lot of science facts and theories that were used as comparisons to some of the situations that Henry was in or emotions he felt. There were times when it felt like they were a bit overabundant, but they were really interesting to read. Also, every few chapters or so, there were entire sections dedicated to a scenario in which the world could end. They ranged from nanobots to bees to time travel. They made the book even more interesting and thought-provoking!