Title : We Are the Ants
Author : Shaun David Hutchinson
Genre : YA Contemporary, Science fiction
Goodreads summary :
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.
The thing about nice teenage stories is that they are nice teenage stories. They are true at heart, and so successful in portraying what is real and what really happens. They can be emotional, and they can leave you feeling strong and your mind at peace. I consider myself so lucky that I’m reading books like these at an age where it is required, where my age and the characters’ ages match, and I can so seamlessly see parts of my life reflected in theirs, and take strength and lessons, and feel united with at least something in my life.
We Are the Ants beautifully represents the importance of life, the meaning and the enormity of life, and yet how viewed from the other side of the coin – our life is so inconsequential and small, when compared to the universe. We are all actually ants, so many of us that one single life doesn’t mean more than the others, so many of us that none of us are really going to matter in the long run, so many of us that we’re nothing compared to the vastness of the universe. But, in spite of being ants, we can lead beautiful lives, and make most of the one thing which truly is ours.
By interspersing bits and parts of science-fictiony elements into an otherwise contemporary story, Shaun David Hutchinson tells us whether the world and all its human beings are really worth saving, whether maybe the universe needs to end and in the very heart of the book, how glorious and beautiful life can be even being an ant.
I think what makes this book really endearing is how real the characters are, especially the MC. I think his voice and his outlook on life and the world is so true to what people feel at this age, and the way he deals with various things (an ex-boyfriend who committed suicide, a grandmother battling Alzheimer’s, a brother who’s more of a bully than a friend, a dad who’s abandoned the family etc.) really touches you. He keeps making mistakes, he keeps self-doubting and questioning the actions of others, he is unable to move on from his boyfriend’s death and yet he finds a ray of sunshine in this otherwise mess of a life. It’s such a hopeful, inspiring read.
The writing is really great. It is what fits the mood and tone of the book, and doesn’t dissolve into pretentiousness or flowery language. Instead, it is simple and clear and very much fits the mood of the book.
The story flows really well; it may not be intriguing or un-putdownable – but it has its own force which keeps pulling you forward and reading till the end. There is no buildup or suspense – everything is laid out in the very beginning and we follow the MC’s interactions with everyone in his life.
Overall, I think this book was wonderful. There’s diversity, and I absolutely loved the relationships portrayed in the book. The various themes which are subtly dealt with also make their mark and overall, make this book amazing.