We Are the Ants
Author Shaun David Hutchinson
Publisher Simon Pulse | 2016
contemporary | sci fi
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. (from Goodreads)
This review is spoiler-freeeee! 🙂
I’m actually really surprised that I ended up rating this four stars. This book was.. unexpected. I feel like when I first read the synopsis I thought this was going to be waaay more sci-fi than it is, but it’s actually pretty… normal? Like, sure, there’s aliens but they’re a really minor character in the overall aspect of this book. For like 95% of the time reading this, I was convinced that it was gonna be another 3-star rating, because everything was just meh and there were things that annoyed me. But then I got to the end and was like…wait..I actually liked this? This was good? This is a solid 4 star book?
“Dreams are hopeful because they exist as pure possibility. Unlike memories, which are fossils, long dead and buried deep.”
It’s kind of hard for me to explain how I feel about this. At the beginning, the book reads like a dark comedy and then you realize it’s really, really not. It’s deep and insightful and there’s so many great things in here about mental health and suicide and self-awareness and depression. Henry is a likeable narrator and I enjoyed Hutchinson’s writing style. The first part was pretty slow for me, but I picked it up around 35% done and finished the rest in a few hours.
“Maybe the end of the world isn’t the problem, Audrey. Maybe it’s the solution. And right now Diego’s a complication.”
My favorite character was Audrey. She wasn’t a big character throughout the first half but when she finally came back into the fold, I loved her! It frustrated me a bit of how resistant Henry was to forgiving Audrey for most of the first half but I was really into their friendship and I loved all their interactions. She was great in helping Henry with his feelings about Jesse and dealing with the fallout from that and she was so super supportive of things that happened during school. I also liked Diego a lot, though some of his secrecy and caginess bothered me. Zooey was great, too and it was nice to read about Henry’s family dynamic. I didn’t enjoy the little chapter breaks about possible world-ending scenarios. I ended up skimming a few of the later ones, but then I got to the last one and was like… damn this is actually cool and makes sense now.
“The universe may forget us, but it can’t forget us until we’re gone, and we’re still here, our futures still unwritten.”
I’m usually not the biggest fan of open-ended endings, but I actually enjoyed this. The entire last 10 percent of the book was what really made me realize the impact of this book. I’ve never struggled with the situations and problems that these characters do, but it gave me a greater insight into mental health and depression by reading about them in this way. It’s always great to read about things so far out of my personal bubble to try and increase my awareness of them. There’s definitely some darkness in this, but the messages about friendship and grief are powerful. I’m really glad I pushed through to finish this and I’d for sure recommend it to someone else!