We Are the Ants by Shaun David Hutchinson [Review]

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“We’re not words, Henry, we’re people. Words are how others define us, but we can define ourselves any way we choose.”

I felt like this would have been my new favorite book but something went wrong somewhere along the way.

Henry Denton has a chain smoker for a mother, a college dropout for a brother, a grandmother losing the battle against Alzheimer’s disease, and a boyfriend who killed himself a year ago. And the fact that he keeps being abducted by aliens is just icing on the cake. The aliens told Henry that the world will be ending in 144 days and he has the power to stop it by a simple push of a big red button. The question in his mind is if the world deserves to be saved.

Enter Diego Vega. A cryptic guy with a mysterious past who challenges Henry to see the world in a different perspective. Maybe even enough for him to decide whether to press the button or not.

So about the first 60% of the book was fantastic. Henry was the perfect character; often witty and hilarious:

“Marcus fired off a high-pitched cackle that made me fantasize about punching him so hard in the balls that the trauma traveled back through time and rendered his ancestors sterile, thus wiping Marcus McCoy from history.”

Sometimes he is profound and sensitive:

 “Sometimes I think gravity may be death in disguise. Other times I think gravity is love, which is why love’s only demand is that we fall.” 

The remaining parts of the book felt forced and Henry became annoying; repeating the same flawed logic to himself just because he needed constant assurance that his boyfriend’s death was not his fault, even though it has been pointed out to him (in about the same number of times that he mentioned it) that It. Was. Not. His. Fault.

I mean I get it. Someone you love commits suicide while you chose to ignore the signs. That warrants self-doubts and you start to blame yourself. But it took Henry such a long time to let his friends and family in and accept the truth.

It was a little disappointing because the other elements of the book were spot on. The narrative flowed smoothly while being completely thoughtful of those with mental illness and the other characters showed great complexity. I guess Henry just lost a quality that I really liked about him: his incredible insight towards the world, the perfect balance of humor and sensitivity in his voice, and his stubborn and headstrong character.

Rating: 3 out of 5 stars

Shelve this on Goodreads

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