We Are the Ants by Shaun David Hutchinson


This book. This fucking book.

Good. Great. Wonderful. Magnificent. Those words don't even come close to describing the excellence of this novel. It's ineffable. This book reminds me why I love reading. This book reminds me of the beauty and tragedy of life, and the power that books can have. Because this book...could change your damn life.

This novel, and Henry in particular, has a very Catcher in the Rye feel to it, because of the meaningfulness it can have. An understanding and relatability, even though you aren't in the same situations as Holden or Henry.

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.

Henry has had an impossibly hard year. His boyfriend Jesse killed himself, and he's fooling around with a guy who torments him on a weekly basis to numb the pain. He was an incredible character, with a wit and sarcasm that rivaled my own, but he has such a solemn soul. He's hurting, and his grief is so palpable and well depicted. He sees how fucked up the world is, and sees very few redeeming qualities. And he doesn't understand why Jesse killed himself and didn't leave a note; so he blames himself. Henry goes through a lot, and there were many times that I had to put this book down because it became so hard to read. He's bullied almost to a breaking point, and it hurt my heart to watch him go through it all. But his resiliency and heart, though fragile, make this a truly beautiful novel.

Henry and Diego's relationship was so well crafted. Henry is still in love with Jesse, so he feels unbelievably guilty that he's falling for someone else. It's a slow burn and bumpy ride that left me breathless. They both have complicated pasts they will never be able to run from, and they have to work through that and push it aside so they can focus on the present and their possible future together.

We Are the Ants may have an unusual plot description on the outside, but it is so elegantly crafted and memorable on the inside. I honestly cannot find a single fault in this novel. I cannot remember the last time I said that. It's funny, it's believable, it's relatable, and it is so heartbreaking.

The writing was impeccable. The whole novel is heartbreaking for a reason. To write a more depressing novel, you need to be able to write the emotion well. And holy hell, is the emotion done well. I was tearing up every twenty page, as I felt Henry's grief with him. The humor is integrated so flawless.

I have so many more things to say about this book, but I'll wrap it up with this: read this as soon as possible. It's a wonderful story and it needs to be told.

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  1. Oh wow! I have to read this one! Great review -- and what a unique plot!

    1. Thank you! And as you read above, I think you should totally read it too. :D


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