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- ISBN-13: 9781481449632
- ISBN-10: 148144963X
- Publisher: Simon Pulse
- Publish Date: January 2016
- Page Count: 464
- Reading Level: Ages 14-UP
- Dimensions: 8.3 x 5.9 x 1.6 inches
- Shipping Weight: 1.15 pounds
Publishers Weekly® Reviews
- Reviewed in: Publishers Weekly, page .
- Review Date: 2015-12-14
- Reviewer: Staff
Henry Denton's life is in tattershe was abandoned by his father; his boyfriend, Jesse, hanged himself; and he is regularly abducted by aliens who have put Earth's very fate in his hands. The 16-year-old, nicknamed "Space Boy" by his tormentors, is self-destructing until he finds a friend in new kid Diego and an ally in Jesse's former pal Audrey. In a style reminiscent of Slaughterhouse-Five, Hutchinson (The Five Stages of Andrew Brawley) intersperses Henry's experience aboard the "slugger" spaceship with his trials on Earth, where he's "a punch line at school, a ghost at home." The extraterrestrial scenes are less the makings of a SF novel than a metaphor for Henry's isolation and alienation from his family and peers, including a gang of bullies who brutally assault him in a shower and then publicly shame him. Hutchinson has crafted an unflinching portrait of the pain and confusion of young love and loss, thoughtfully exploring topics like dementia, abuse, sexuality, and suicide as they entwine with the messy work of growing up. Ages 14up. Agent: Amy Boggs, Donald Maass Literary Agency. (Jan.)
Is Earth worth saving?
If you could press a button to stop the upcoming destruction of the world, would you? Henry’s been abducted by aliens and offered this choice, and he has 144 days to decide. On one hand, the world as Henry sees it doesn’t particularly seem worth saving. He’s haunted by his boyfriend Jesse’s suicide and estranged from their mutual friend Audrey. A purely physical relationship with the class bully ultimately leaves him hollow. And at home, his mother has put her dreams on hold, his father hasn’t been in touch in years, his grandmother is slowly losing her mind to Alzheimer’s and his older brother’s girlfriend is pregnant. But then Henry meets Diego, a teen with secrets of his own. With Diego’s perspective and those of his teachers, family and friends, Henry starts to wonder if maybe he should press that button and save the world after all.
At first, We Are the Ants seems to be magical realism with a slightly silly premise and a theme of resilience in the face of tragedy. And it might be that, or it might be a meditation on the power of storytelling. Or an experiment in a blended style of realistic and fantastical fiction. Or all of these combined. Either way, it promises to be one of the most talked-about YA books of 2016.