We Are the Ants
Written By Shaun David Hutchinson
Published by Simon Pulse
Henry does not have an easy life.
His mother is an alcoholic and his grandmother has Alzheimers. His boyfriend committed suicide, and Henry blames himself. He has a secret relationship of sorts with a closeted popular kid at school, who masks his own homosexuality by bullying Henry mercilessly in public. Henry gets bullied a lot: At home, at school and online.
Henry is a nihilist, and with good reason. He doesn’t have a lot of impetus to believe in much of anything.
Except the aliens. The aliens he believes in.
And he believes in the aliens because, on many an occasion, he’s been abducted by them.
On one of his visits to their ship, Henry is presented with an option: He learns that the Earth is to be destroyed, and all he has to do to stop it from happening is press a red button. But does he want to? Call it Henry’s Choice. With the end of the Earth comes the end of all of his problems, and relief, and who wouldn’t want that? (Bonus points for revenge on all of those who have made his life so hard on he first place.)
Shaun David Hutchinson has set up a sort of Rube Goldberg machine of existential drama, with everything feeding everything else, and no bits feeling out of place or forced in any way. There is no tacked on budding romance. Despite the inclusion of the aliens, nothing feels quirky for quirk’s sake. Though witty and sarcastic, Henry is not one of those post-Juno, wise beyond their years teen heroes who always knows the answers and always says just the right things.
Hutchinson bravely tackles all existential issues head on, refusing to shy away from the big questions. In a perfect world, all young adult fiction would be so fearless, and so full of depth. Hutchinson gives his audience full credit and never panders to them and never lets them off the hook.
We Are the Ants is near flawless. It takes no short cuts; it is difficult, easy to read, witty, depressing, hysterically funny, real, fantastical, enraging, empowering, profound and inspiring.
This is essential reading.
Kinderlit.ca requested and received a copy of We Are the Ants in exchange for an honest review. Read about our review policy HERE.