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

Come November
It's not the end of the world, but for Rooney...
 
4.7
 
0.0 (0)
This Little Scientist: A Discovery Primer
Learn all about scientists who changed history in this engaging...
 
5.0
 
0.0 (0)
Corpse & Crown (Cadaver & Queen, #2)
Agatha DeLacey’s family isn’t rich or titled, so studying nursing...
 
4.0
 
0.0 (0)
TandT enhanced.jpg
Immersed in the historical background of the tenth century, this...
 
0.0
 
0.0 (0)
An Egg-Stra Special Easter
Happy Easter from the Beanie Boos! These furry friends are...
 
5.0
 
0.0 (0)
Jesus Loves Me
The Bible bb's share the Good News about Jesus using...
 
4.0
 
0.0 (0)
Changing Faces: Happy Halloween!
It’s Halloween and all the different creatures have come out...
 
5.0
 
0.0 (0)
The Itsy Bitsy School Bus
A fun and playful back-to-school twist on the popular nursery...
 
4.0
 
0.0 (0)
I Spy Little Hearts
Perfect for Valentine's Day or any day--search-and-find fun from bestselling...
 
4.0
 
0.0 (0)
I Spy Little Bunnies
This bestselling board book now has a shiny new holographic...
 
4.0
 
0.0 (0)
Peep, Peep, I Love You
An adorable lift-the-flap springtime and Easter story, full of sweet...
 
5.0
 
0.0 (0)
Lift the Flap: Look Who's Mooing!
What sounds do a cow, chicken, and more farm animals...
 
5.0
 
0.0 (0)
The Archive of Magic: Explore the Film Wizardry of Fantastic Beasts: The Crimes of Grindelwald
Newt, Tina, Queenie, and Jacob, the beloved heroes of Fantastic...
 
5.0
 
0.0 (0)
Fantastic Beasts: The Crimes of Grindelwald - Magical Adventure Colouring Book
Fantastic Beasts: The Crimes of Grindelwald - Magical Advent ...
 
5.0
 
0.0 (0)
Chicken Talk
The chickens on the farm have a message for their...
 
4.0
 
0.0 (0)
Sea Bear: A Journey for Survival
Lindsay Moore’s remarkable and beautifully illustrated picture book follows a...
 
5.0
 
0.0 (0)

Latest Member Reviews

Come November
 
4.7
"This YA contemporary follows Rooney (short for Marina) who is trying to keep her family afloat. A senior in high..."
Corpse & Crown (Cadaver & Queen, #2)
 
4.0
"Adding in the characters of Oliver Twist to the unique world of Bio-mechanicals created in the first book, this stand-alone..."
10 Steps to Girlfriend Status (Bird Face book two)
 
5.0
"Having read 8 Notes to a Nobody, I was eager to continue Wendy's story, and this book does not disappoint...."
The Summer of '69
 
5.0
"Lucas' summer is ruined when his girlfriend Robin decides to be a camp counselor some distance from their Long Island..."
Unconventional Warfare (Special Forces, Book 1)
 
5.0
"Danny has a violent streak, frequently pounding on his younger brother for pounding on another brother. His single father has..."
The Archive of Magic: Explore the Film Wizardry of Fantastic Beasts: The Crimes of Grindelwald
 
5.0
"This book has EVERYTHING and is the ultimate, magical experience for fans of FANTASTIC BEASTS: THE CRIMES OF GRINDELWALD. There..."
Fantastic Beasts: The Crimes of Grindelwald - Magical Adventure Colouring Book
 
5.0
"This coloring book will take you on a magical adventure into the story THE CRIMES OF GRINDELWALD. The pictures are..."
Mike
 
4.7
"Floyd is a very good young tennis player who has worked very closely with his supportive parents to do well...."
The Blood Spell
 
4.0
"Based loosely on the tale of Cinderella, The Blood Spell is the fourth standalone installment for the Ravenspire series of..."
The Haunted
 
3.0
"Hendricks and her family buy an old building in Drearford, New York after an incident. Her family 'hopes' this will..."
Just For Clicks
 
5.0
"Claire and her twin sister, Poppy, are ‘internet famous’. Every part of their lives have been blogged, photographed, and recorded..."
Obsidian (Lux #1)
 
5.0
"That's why I love paranormal romances :D"
On the Fence
 
5.0
"I'm a sucker for YA and Friends to Lovers romance, and Kasie West is one of my favorite YA author..."
Alienated (Alienated #1)
 
4.7
"I think I fell in love! Aelyx and Cara’s romance is of the slow-burn kind.... simply swoony! The..."
P.S. I Like You
 
4.7
"Be yourself, even when you don’t fit in! Two teenagers who both felt like something was missing in their lives..."
City of Bones (The Mortal Instruments #1)
 
5.0
"NYC will never be the same after reading this great Urban Fantasy... Even my heart will never be the same..."
Catching Jordan
 
4.7
"It's sooooo cute!!!!!! I shipped Jordan and Sam pretty much from page 1. I can't praise this book enough...."
The Raven Boys (Raven Cycle #1)
 
5.0
"This book is absolutely amazing! Beautifully written and compelling, with memorable characters. I was completed invested in each of them!..."
On the Fence
 
5.0
"I've read this book twice now, and I can't stop thinking about it. I feel madly in love with Charlie,..."
Twilight (Twilight #1)
 
4.7
"Twilight is the epic love story of Edward and Bella. Forget any vampire romance you have read before, Twilight is..."