by Shaun David Hutchinson
Henry Denton doesn’t know 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.
Since the suicide of his boyfriend, Jesse, Henry has been adrift. He’s become estranged from his best friend, started hooking up with his sworn enemy, and his family is oblivious to everything that’s going on around them. As far as Henry is concerned, a world without Jesse is a world he isn’t sure is worth saving. 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.
I honestly don’t even know where to start with this review. There are so many things I want to discuss and how wonderfully-written this whole book was. To be honest, after reading the synopsis, I wasn’t very intrigued, but I’m very happy to say I was incredibly mistaken. WE ARE THE ANTS follows the story of Henry Denton, who continuously gets abducted by aliens, tested, and sent back to Earth with the decision to save the world or allow it to be destroyed, all while being ruthlessly bullied and mentally distraught.
This novel is written in relatively beautiful prose, complete with vulgar language and crude humor. Henry is suffering in school, at home, with his friends/boyfriends/hookups, and when he is abducted by aliens, he continuously has to answer the questions: Is life worth living? Is it worth saving even if we’re going to die in the end? Henry is shown to be extremely emotionally and mentally distraught and upset but he manages to continue on, even through the emotionally-damaging situations he goes through, such as the suicide of his boyfriend.
To add on, Hutchinson incorporates amazing secondary characters, such as Diego and Audrey. They both have incredible dimensions to them and it was quite an adventure to figure them out and to demystify their histories. Even Charlie had a fantastic characterization; he becomes a major jerk to a little less of a jerk to someone who may be okay sometimes; even he had his internal struggles.
What I also adored about this book was the astounding number of ways it gave me existential crises. It was so thought-provoking; it was sad, but it also made me laugh in a few parts. It made me feel like I was in Henry’s shoes, and like I also had to make the decision to continue living or to let the world rot. It’s also interesting to note that the novel is interspersed with different situations in which the world could theoretically end, which was quite fascinating yet terrifying to read.
Nonetheless, this book has easily become one of my favorite books this year, and I’m very excited to see what else Hutchinson has for us in the future.