Review #33 // We Are the Ants – Shaun David Hutchinson


Henry Denton get’s regularly abducted by aliens, and frankly, he’s quite tired of it. But then they convey to him that he has to press a button to save the world, but only if he believes that the world is worth saving. Except, with how his life has been going recently, maybe humanity is better off dead.

Why this book?: I read aliens and LGBT+ rep in the same sentence, so it wasn’t as if I could just ignore this book.

Am I missing something?

We Are the Ants is definitely a unique book with it’s premise including aliens and the end of the world. But that’s really all there is to this book, in the end.

It felt like Hutchinson was trying to weave two ideas together, and they wouldn’t mesh the way he saw it in his head, so he just threw it together without considering how they didn’t work. This book was either about Henry’s love-life, or the aliens. And with how the aliens just disappeared halfway through this book, it really felt like they were added in at random spots to further the ever slowing plot.

I also found Henry extremely annoying and the relationships pointless. All the characters weren’t there for Henry, but were only there because the plot required them to be. By the end, Diego, whom I had enjoyed at first, was fake, and Audrey was so redundant and empty that I dreaded whenever I read her name coming up. Zooey, Charlie, Nana, and Henry’s mother were all there for their part of the book, and then were conveniently forgotten until Henry needed some sort of stimulation.

Romanticizing depression

I at first didn’t notice it, but as Henry’s depression got deeper and deeper through the book, it was soon evident what was going to happen. Henry was depressed because of the responsibility the aliens put on him, as well as the bullying and Jesse’s suicide. But then oh-so-mysterious Diego comes along, and by the end of the book, Henry is CURED!! 

That’s not how depression works, and as soon as I realized it, my opinion of the book fell.

While this book does go into some sensitive topics, and does try to send positive messages, it ultimately fails. All of the inspirational quotes and sayings sounded like they were coming from some wise old wizard instead of some high schooler. And the topics of depression, suicide, and rape (happened VERY late in the book, but beware) were very much brushed over. Depression was romanticized, suicide shameful (not to mention they pretty much blamed a lot of people), and rape was basically another horrible event the Henry’s life.

Final Rating: ★★☆☆☆


The sentiment and idea behind this book were probably the best parts of it. I love the idea of the sluggers (aliens) and how Henry reacted to them. But Henry’s attitude towards everything quickly got boring, which made the book hard to finish. The sentiment was appreciated, but it felt fake in a way that was more damaging than helpful.

Would I Recommend?

Overall, it’s a matter of opinion. Maybe the messages would be better received by someone else, someone who’s experienced depression differently than I have. I also wouldn’t go into this book hoping for a cool alien stories, because they’re really just a backdrop.

23677341Additional Information:

Published: January 19th, 2016

Publisher: Simon Pulse

Page Count: 455

Genre: Young Adult/Science Fiction/Contemporary

Synopsis: via Goodreads

There are a few things Henry Denton knows, and a few things he doesn’t.

Henry knows that his mom is struggling to keep the family together, and coping by chain-smoking cigarettes. He knows that his older brother is a college dropout with a pregnant girlfriend. He knows that he is slowly losing his grandmother to Alzheimer’s. And he knows that his boyfriend committed suicide last year.

What Henry doesn’t know is why the aliens chose to abduct him when he was thirteen, and he doesn’t know why they continue to steal him from his bed and take him aboard their ship. He doesn’t know why the world is going to end or why the aliens have offered him the opportunity to avert the impending disaster by pressing a big red button.

But they have. And they’ve only given him 144 days to make up his mind.

The question is whether Henry thinks the world is worth saving. That is, until he meets Diego Vega, an artist with a secret past who forces Henry to question his beliefs, his place in the universe, and whether any of it really matters. But before Henry can save the world, he’s got to figure out how to save himself, and the aliens haven’t given him a button for that.

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