We Are the Ants|Shaun David Hutchinson
We Are the Ants
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A Time Best YA Book of All Time (2021)

From the "author to watch" (Kirkus Reviews) of The Five Stages of Andrew Brawley comes a brand-new novel about a teenage boy who must decide whether or not the world is worth saving.

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.


  • ISBN-13: 9781481449632
  • ISBN-10: 148144963X
  • Publisher: Simon & Schuster Books for Young Readers
  • Publish Date: January 2016
  • Dimensions: 8.4 x 5.9 x 1.6 inches
  • Shipping Weight: 1.15 pounds
  • Page Count: 464
  • Reading Level: Ages 14-17

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.


This article was originally published in the February 2016 issue of BookPage. Download the entire issue for the Kindle or Nook.