January 18, 2016

ARC Review: We Are the Ants by Shaun David Hutchinson


We Are the Ants
by Shaun David Hutchinson
464 pages
Expected publication: January 19th 2016 by Simon Pulse
My Rating: 4/5 Stars
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.
THIS BOOK!! This book. THIS BOOK. *shoves book into your face, but in a polite way* MAN. THIS BOOK WAS SO SO GOOD. SO GOOD. LIKE REALLY GOOD. I teared up quite a few times while reading even though I'm not usually a book crier, it's just, We Are The Ants is such an emotional book! I know you might be thinking..IF THIS BOOK WAS SO AMAZING WHY DID YOU ONLY RATE IT 3 STARS SAM? Well..I shall explain that right now. Due to the subject matter of this book there are constant mentions of male masturbation, porn, quite a bit of male nudity, talk of anal probing (because like...aliens you know), and urination. I get that this is very realistic and all, but just because it's realistic and all doesn't mean that I, a 15 YEAR OLD GIRL, would have any enjoyment reading those parts. So yeah, aside from all those parts that made me QUITE A BIT UNCOMFY, THIS WAS A GREAT BOOK. Honestly, I think all those parts just added to the story, they made it grittier and realistic, but as I said, I was still beyond weirded out by them. 

Okay so now that we understand where that one star went let's talk about the rest of this totally fabulous book! Every once in awhile aliens, who Henry calls the sluggers, come and abduct him. The sluggers will destroy the earth, but they give Henry the chance to save it. He has 144 days to make his decision, and all he has to do to save the earth is press a big red button. Henry isn't so sure he wants to press it though. His boyfriend recently committed suicide, his grandmother has alzheimer's, his dad left his family, he is tortured at school, called "Space Boy" by the other kids in his grade, and is even brutally assaulted in the showers after gym one day, he's sleeping with someone who aggressively bullies him one second but makes out with him the next, and his older brother practically tortures him. 

As we follow Henry in his search for closure over his boyfriend's death and in his pursuit of answers about Diego's past we feel all of his pain. The aggressive taunting he faces in school is so upsetting, especially when his bullies take to physically attacking him. It is so hard to watch so many horrible things happen to Henry over and over. I itched for him to reach out to someone and I wanted him to get his closure so so badly. The length of this book really allowed for Hutchinson to showcase Henry's grief and struggles, but it also lends itself to the development of strong, well developed, relationships between all of our characters (which I will talk more about later). 

There are these really surprising and unique chapters placed throughout the book about these groundbreaking scientific discoveries. Each has the potential to change the world for the better, but each can also lead to the demise of humankind. and in every single one of these chapters the new innovation helps tremendously at first, but always eventually leads to the annihilation of the planet, typically on January twenty-ninth, which is the day the world will end if Henry doesn't press the button. 

Another amazing amaaaaazing thing this author did was that we do not have the typical "Oh look, here if your new love interest! LET ALL OF YOUR PROBLEMS BE SOLVED." That is not what goes on here at alllll. Henry is really, really suffering, and as a result of his internal struggles his relationships with his family and best friend suffer as well. He sure as hell isn't going to get right into an amazing relationship that changes him forever and motivates him to save the world, and so his relationships are complicated and filled with struggles and premature separations and hurt and sadness and fighting and yelling. But as Henry grows, so do his relationships with all of the important people in his life. This was such a satisfying part of the story, I especially liked the mending of Henry's relationship with his brother Charlie. Henry's family dynamics were just truly spectacular and done so well. There is never one person who changes Henry, it is a combination of his mom, his brother, Diego, Zooey, and Audrey, who all work so cohesively in this story. Also, can we just take a second to give it up for Audrey. She is literally an amazing friend and I loved her so much. 

Shaun Hutchinson also really explores this "morally grey area" with lots of his characters. Of course, there's going to be the characters that simply deserve a swift kick to the groin, but there are also the characters that are assholes that turn really vulnerable and caring at times, but then revert back to being even bigger assholes. It's infuriating yet riveting to read, because you're hoping for redemption at points but thinking to yourself "How in the world could they do that!" at others. 

We Are the Ants is an amazing book that explores themes of family, sexuality, suicide, depression, friendship, and bullying in a flawless manner. The entire book just flowed so seamlessly. I completely recommend this book and I am definitely going to look into some of Shaun Hutchinson's other books! 

11 comments:

  1. Hmm, I've heard a bit about this book, but not much. Like, the premise sounds interesting and all, but I'm also confused as to what the big red button is supposed to do. And I'm not a huge fan of crass stuff in books, even if it does serve to make the book feel grittier and more realistic or whatever. I tend to take stars off for that as well, even if I really love a book. But maybe I will eventually see if my library has this. Thanks for reviewing it! :) And thanks for commenting on Out of Coffee, Out of Mind. :)

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  2. Ooh I love seeing all the relationships around Henry develop. It really sounds like he leads a tough life when the aliens give him the chance to save earth. I can totally see how uncomfortable it can be reading about boys' masturbation and porn lol, but it does make it quite believable, since these things DO happen in real life haha. Wonderful review, and this is definitely a book I'm looking forward to picking up.

    - Aila @ Happy Indulgence

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  3. I actually liked to hear him talk about masturbation, porn and such, especially since this is something guys do, but I understand why you felt uneasy about it. I just thought this book was so important, and showcased tough topics like mental illness, suicide, bullying, etc so well. I'm glad you really liked it!

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  4. HAHA this is my problem with guy-narration books. It happened in The Alex Crow - like, I don't need 7000 euphemisms for masturbation, THANK you.

    Still...sounds pretty cool :D Aliens ftw.

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  5. Hey Sam! I've just stumbled upon your blog, and I'm so glad I did! (The header is so cheery and I LURV it!)

    I've never heard of "We Are The Ants" but it's going onto my TBR now! Great review! :)

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  6. I've never heard of this book before, but I'm glad you enjoyed it! The concept of this story sounds really interesting. The bullying and space/alien relation slightly reminded me of Ender's Game, but that's a stretch; I think the idea is original. I like that grey characters are included, too. I think these traits make the book more genuine and the characters more human.

    Claire ❥ Cover to Cover

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  7. I have heard so many beautiful things about this book and I MUST own it *cries over book ban* Hopefully I can find a local bookstore that sells it so I can use my trusted book voucher. The premise does not really pull me in, but all the reviews like your own which promises great characters and punch in the feels has me dying to read this!!

    Aentee at http://readatmidnight.wordpress.com

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  8. I've been seeing this book everywhere! Everyone has been saying great things. I'm glad you enjoyed it :) It has a beautiful cover as well. Great review!

    Jumana @ Books by Jay
    PS, I LOVE your blog. I'm a new follower of yours♥

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  9. I'll be checking this book out! I've heard so many great things about it - your review just adds on to the pile! I'm so glad you enjoyed it :) I'll be looking forward to an epic book with killer themes! :)
    Geraldine @ Corralling Books

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  10. I love that we get to pick your next read. You Rock! I hope you choose mine

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