Review Detail

 
Young Adult Fiction
Overall rating 
 
4.7
Plot 
 
4.0
Characters 
 
5.0
Writing Style 
 
5.0

A heartbreaking yet hopeful journey ... with aliens

We Are the Ants follows Henry Denton in the worst year of his life. His mother is struggling to keep the family together; his brother is a college dropout with a pregnant girlfriend; his grandmother’s Alzheimer’s is progressively getting worse; his boyfriend committed suicide the previous year, and the guy he is sleeping with bullies him at school. But that is nothing compared to the aliens that have been abducting him on and off since he was thirteen. Usually, they probe and experiment on him, but this time the aliens offer him the opportunity to avert a global disaster by simply pressing a red button. They’ve given him 144 days to make up his mind. The only issue is Henry doesn’t think the world is worth saving; that is, until he meets Diego Vega, an artist with a secret past. Diego forces Henry to question his beliefs and his own place in the universe. But before Henry can save the world, he must figure out how to save himself. And the aliens haven’t given him a button for that.

This is an incredibly nihilistic novel; the dark tone is heartbreakingly sad, and there were many moments I was on the verge of tears. With a novel that focuses on mental health and the fate of the world in the hands of a depressed boy, you wouldn’t think that the penultimate message is one of hope, but it is. This book is about a potentially suicidal boy exploring the world and trying to find something good in it. It’s about love, friendship, and the different types of family we make for ourselves.

Henry was a remarkable protagonist and I connected with him on a deep, personal level, which doesn’t often occur with male characters. He was intelligent, comical and expressive, but he lived in a haze of depression and self-loathing after the suicide of his much-beloved boyfriend, Jesse. Henry attempted to navigate life without Jesse, but all that resulted in was the loss of a close friendship and the beginning of a secret, abusive relationship with the school bully. Then he met Diego and things started to turn around for him, and he began to think that perhaps the Earth was worth saving after all.

It is important to note that We Are The Ants was not a romance, although it could be viewed as one as the romance element was a part of the story. Henry was not suddenly cured of his depression simply because he fell for a cute boy – he was still a very flawed, sad character who was trying to make sense of the devastating death of a loved one. I think many readers will be able to connect with Henry and feel for his situation.

All of the characters in this novel were highly complex individuals – even the background characters, like Henry’s family and friends. At the beginning of the novel, Henry’s brother was a college dropout who beat up his brother and pissed in Henry’s desk bin (as brothers do?), but once he discovered that his girlfriend was pregnant, his character underwent a wonderful development: he found a job, treated Henry a lot better, and started building a nursery. He understood he wouldn’t be the perfect father, but he would try his best. I think we can all gleam a lesson from that. And Henry’s mother started the novel as a disillusioned waitress, who wanted nothing more than to work as a chef. She was encouraged by her family to aspire to reach for this life-long goal and became happier for it.

Marcus, the popular boy Henry dated who seemed to have it all, was actually a frightened, insecure boy trapped in the closet. One moment, he was quite loving to Henry; the next, Marcus was violently beating him and humiliating Henry in front of his gang of fellow bullies/friends. And Diego, while a sensitive artist who Henry felt safe around, also had a secret and volatile past. So while the immediate plot of the novel was about Henry – and the novel was written from his POV too – We Are The Ants featured a wide-arrange of complicated and multi-layered characters, who each progressed through some intense characterisation. Each character was there for a reason and they all had a story to say.

The plot of the novel was quite unique and fascinating, and a large reason as to why I picked up the book in the first place. I loved the inclusion of the aliens and Henry’s scenarios as to how exactly the Earth will be destroyed. There was a reason why this novel didn’t get the full 5 star rating, and I can’t reveal that reason without spoiling the conclusion of the novel. This issue only became apparent after I read What We Pretend to Be, a collection of short stories about other people’s abductions, as well as Henry’s first abduction. Before I read this story, I thought the point of We Are The Ants was to be an existential piece, but now I am not so sure. Perhaps it was legitimate all along? If that is so, it potentially opens some plot holes within We Are The Ants. If you don’t take this short story into account, then the novel makes perfect sense.

Hutchinson's writing was wonderful and so in tune with the tone and the thoughts of a teenage boy (a pattern I am sensing in all of his novels, thus far). Henry's voice was sardonic and his perspective of the world pessimistic, and yet the novels reads as potentially philosophical. Henry weighed his options regarding the fate of the world very carefully and took a frank look at what living life - and what death is - actually means. Despite the fact that the book has dark themes and is quite heavy, it is a quick read as the writing and the scenes progressed quickly, but with respect for the structure of the book, too.

We Are The Ants was a raw and hopeful YA novel that refreshingly combined the usual sci-fi elements and presented them through the discourse of a depressed teenage boy. The novel tackled issues regarding sexuality, depression, suicide, mental health and disease with finesse and sensitivity. While the ending was somewhat ambiguous (made even more confusing by that short story) the central message that can be gleamed from the novel is that, while our lives are small and, more often that not, do not affect a wide-group of people or influence history, they are still important and worth living.

Good Points
Check out my blog and other reviews: thebookcorps.wordpress.com
Was this review helpful to you? 

Comments

 
 
Ordering 
 
Already have an account? or Create an account
 
 
 
Powered by JReviews

FEATURED GIVEAWAYS

Latest Book Listings Added

#1 Bestseller on Kobo and Category Bestseller on Amazon! ...
 
0.0
 
0.0 (0)
What if you were the missing piece in one of...
 
0.0
 
0.0 (0)
The Babysitter's Club: Kristy's Big Day
Kristy's mom is getting married, and Kristy is going to...
 
4.0
 
0.0 (0)
The Very Last Castle
A curious little girl watches the man who guards the...
 
5.0
 
0.0 (0)
Jack B. Ninja
Jack B. Ninja! Jack, be quick! Jack, jump over the...
 
3.5
 
0.0 (0)
Emerge: The Assignment: An Immortals of Indriell Novella
She has devoted her life to training with the...
 
5.0
 
0.0 (0)
The Agony House
Denise Farber has just moved back to New Orleans...
 
4.0
 
0.0 (0)
Freak N Gorgeous
Everyone is ugly sometimes. In a world not unlike...
 
4.0
 
0.0 (0)
Twice Dead
Naya, the daughter of a sea merchant captain, nervously...
 
5.0
 
0.0 (0)
Legacy of Light (Legends of the Tri-Gard Book 2)
Death. Sacrifice. Betrayal. That is your curse. The seer's...
 
5.0
 
0.0 (0)
The Forest Queen
When sixteen-year-old Sylvie’s brother takes over management of their family’s...
 
3.3
 
0.0 (0)
Kendall's Snow Fort (Scholastic Reader Level 2: American Girl: Wellie Wishers)
There's a storm coming! The other WellieWishers promise to help...
 
3.0
 
0.0 (0)
Afterimage
A horrific explosion levels part of the city and...
 
4.7
 
0.0 (0)
Death in daylight. Danger at dark. ...
 
0.0
 
0.0 (0)
The Little Girl Who Wanted to be Big
The internet’s “World’s Best Father," award-winning photographer Dave Engledow, follows...
 
5.0
 
0.0 (0)

Latest Member Reviews

Without Annette
 
3.7
"WHAT I LOVED: It’s honestly easier to begin with what readers won’t get from Without Annette so they can adjust..."
Openly Straight
 
4.3
"Rafe's entire life has been colored by the fact that he is gay. He is comfortable with who he..."
Openly Straight
 
4.7
"Openly Straight addresses the fact that being gay is just one of the traits of one person, and being gay..."
Rites of Passage
 
5.0
"Rites of Passage is just one of those gems that you never see coming. It definitely surprised me how much..."
Curtsies & Conspiracies (Finishing School #2)
 
5.0
"From ballgowns and bowler hats, to parties and prototypes, Curtsies & Conspiracies will capture your attention, your mind and your..."
Rites of Passage
 
5.0
"First Impressions I got an ARC of Rites of Passage this month on a whim. It looked interesting and..."
Rites of Passage
 
5.0
"Sam McKenna comes from a military family. Combine that with a love for dares, it makes sense that her oldest..."
Rites of Passage
 
5.0
JenJen
"What I LOVED: Drill. The end. (Okay, so not really.) Rites of Passage is an empowering story, one..."
Rites of Passage
 
4.3
"What I Liked I cannot remember the last time a book made me feel so incredibly, incandescently, indescribably enraged. Seriously,..."
The Unseemly Education of Anne Merchant
 
3.0
"With loads of paranormal secrets and high school intrigue, "The Unseemly Education of Anne Merchant' is a thrilling, dramatic debut...."
What We Hide
 
3.7
"Marthe Jocelyn’s What We Hide was a completely unknown quantity when I picked it out. I’d never heard of it..."
Alliance (The Paladin Prophecy #2)
 
4.0
"I was very pleased with the second installment in the Paladin Prophecy series. Adventure, humor, superpowers, and a mythological quest..."
The Well's End (The Well's End #1)
 
3.7
"What I Liked: The Well’s End by Seth Fishman is rather an odd book, one that goes through several genre..."
Haven (Haven #1)
 
3.7
" I haven’t read a vampire book for quite some time now – it has been all dystopians and..."
Winger (Winger #1)
 
4.7
"It's been a long, long time since I read a book that made me laugh out loud more than once..."
Haven (Haven #1)
 
3.7
"I haven’t read a vampire book for quite some time now – it has been all dystopians and sci-fi for..."
Curtsies & Conspiracies (Finishing School #2)
 
4.3
"I must be completely honest right up front – I’m a huge fan of Gail Carriger’s. I adored her..."
The Burning Sky (The Elemental Trilogy #1)
 
5.0
"The Burning Sky has all the elements a great fantasy novels should have-magic, unique world building which is convincing at..."
Game On (The Academy #1)
 
4.0
" A quick and fun read."
The Burning Sky (The Elemental Trilogy #1)
 
4.7
"Sherry Thomas was already known to me as author of several historical romance novels. I heard a lot of praise..."