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We Are the Ants
Cover of We Are the Ants
We Are the Ants
A Time Best YA Book of All Time (2021) From the "author to watch" (Kirkus Reviews) of The Five Stages of Andrew Brawley comes an "equal parts sarcastic and profound" (Kirkus Reviews, starred review)...
A Time Best YA Book of All Time (2021) From the "author to watch" (Kirkus Reviews) of The Five Stages of Andrew Brawley comes an "equal parts sarcastic and profound" (Kirkus Reviews, starred review)...
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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 an "equal parts sarcastic and profound" (Kirkus Reviews, starred review) 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.

About the Author-

  • Shaun David Hutchinson is the author of numerous books for young adults, including The Past and Other Things That Should Stay Buried, The Apocalypse of Elena Mendoza, At the Edge of the Universe, and We Are the Ants. He also edited the anthologies Violent Ends and Feral Youth and wrote the memoir Brave Face, which chronicles his struggles with depression and coming out during his teenage years. He lives in Seattle, where he enjoys drinking coffee, yelling at the TV, and eating cake. Visit him at ShaunDavidHutchinson.com or on Twitter @ShaunieDarko.

Reviews-

  • Publisher's Weekly

    Starred review from December 14, 2015
    Henry Denton's life is in tatters—he 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 14–up. Agent: Amy Boggs, Donald Maass Literary Agency.

  • Kirkus

    Starred review from October 1, 2015
    Extraterrestrials offer depressed, acerbic Henry Denton the chance to save the Earth from certain destruction by pressing a red button. The stalk-eyed, variably tentacled sluggers' repeated, humiliating abductions and habit of dumping Henry in strange places with minimal clothing make Henry's life tough, but the focus here is less on the aliens and more on the button. Bullied at school, pushed around at home, and reeling from his once-boyfriend's suicide, Henry doesn't think he wants to press it. "If you knew the world was going to end but you could prevent it, would you?" becomes a sort of refrain throughout, and each character who answers not only reveals his or her own carefully imagined depths, but also sheds light on Henry's existential dilemmas. Whether Henry is hooking up in secret with the popular golden boy who torments him in public, watching his beloved Nana lose her memories, or being physically and verbally assaulted at school, at parties, and online, he maintains a biting, vulgar wit. There is both a budding romance and, via Henry's older brother, a baby on the way, but the novel meticulously avoids easy fixes for Henry's nihilism. Instead, his journey is subtle and hard-won, with meditations on the past, the present, and the future that are equal parts sarcastic and profound. Bitterly funny, with a ray of hope amid bleakness. (Fiction. 14-18)

    COPYRIGHT(2015) Kirkus Reviews, ALL RIGHTS RESERVED.

  • School Library Journal

    Starred review from November 1, 2015

    Gr 9 Up-Henry's life is complicated. His previous boyfriend committed suicide without warning or explanation. His jerk brother's girlfriend is pregnant. His nana has Alzheimer's. And his new boyfriend refuses to acknowledge their relationship, instead humiliating and attacking him publicly. Henry is also haunted by questions about why his father left and if Henry himself is culpable. This is all further complicated by the fact that he is regularly abducted by aliens who drop him off naked in various locations throughout the city. The aliens offer Henry the opportunity to save the world from obliteration by simply pressing a red button. The catch? Henry isn't so sure it's worth saving. Hutchinson's voice rings true. This work effectively combines the best of elements of Nick Burd's The Vast Fields of Ordinary (Dial, 2009) with hints of Kurt Vonnegut's Slaughterhouse Five. VERDICT Angst-loving teens will devour this lengthy tome, yearning to see if Henry can consummate a new romance. Highly recommended.-Leah Krippner, Harlem High School, Machesney Park, IL

    Copyright 2015 School Library Journal, LLC Used with permission.

  • Booklist

    Starred review from October 1, 2015
    Grades 9-12 *Starred Review* Self-hating teenager Henry is caught in an existential trap: finding life to be absurd, he thinks humans are not the apex of civilizationon the contrary, they are no more significant than ants. Are they even worth saving? A relevant question, for Henry has a secret: the aliens who have abducted him a dozen times or more have told him when the world will end. Strangely, they have also given him the choice to prevent doomsday; he can simply press a button, and the world will live on. Yet will he take that action? His boyfriend, Jesse, has committed suicide, and Henry, blaming himself, doubts that life is worth living. Certainly, his is a grand parade of suffering and humiliation (because of his belief in aliens, he is called space boy at school). But then charismatic Diego shows up in town, and suddenly life has renewed purpose. But does Henry really have the freedom of choice he thinks he has? Hutchinson's excellent novel of ideas invites readers to wonder about their place in a world that often seems uncaring and meaningless. The novel is never didactic; on the contrary, it is unfailingly dramatic and crackling with characters who become real upon the page. Will Henry press the button? We all await his decision.(Reprinted with permission of Booklist, copyright 2015, American Library Association.)

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    Simon & Schuster Books for Young Readers
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