Thursday, June 29, 2017

We Are The Ants by Shaun Hutchinson - OPTIONAL

Hutchinson, Shaun David We Are The Ants, 451 pgs. Simon and Schuster, 2016. $17.99. Language: R (100+ swears, 50+ "f"); Mature Content: R; Violence: PG-13 

Things have been tough for Henry for a while.  His boyfriend committed suicide last year, his closest friend seems to have abandoned him, and now he is in a secret relationship with the instigator of the torment he receives at school.  Also, he was abducted by aliens.  The aliens tell him the world will end in 143 days and that he can choose to prevent it, all he has to do is push a little red button.  Seems like a pretty simple decision but Henry's life is complicated and painful and he doesn't know if we deserve to be saved. 

This wasn't exactly what I thought it was going to be and not a wholly satisfying end, but I was intrigued by the premise and found it to be heartfelt and engaging.  The writing was good and the alien aspect odd but it worked.  Henry is smart and flippant throughout, but his heartache is also evident throughout.  His sorrow and guilt over his dad leaving, Jesse's suicide, and the bullying will connect with students but the swear count is high and the crude language throughout most of the book is distracting and gets old.  There is plenty of talk of sex and drugs, there is underage drinking, making out and off page sex.  Much of the violence is more heartbreaking then explicit as characters recall past experiences, but there is bullying, including a locker room attack, and an attempted assault.  It's a pretty hefty read that drags a bit in the middle, but picks up again near the end.  While I would be cautious of putting this in a high school library, unless you know your audience, the overall message is relevant, it takes time to mourn, our feelings are complicated and we often feel responsible for the actions of others. 

HS - OPTIONAL.  Reviewer: RB

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