We Are the Ants, and We’ll Keep Marching On
Henry Denton’s life is bullshit: His boyfriend killed himself, his classmates are bullies, his family is falling apart, and occasionally, aliens come to abduct him.
Hence his nickname — Space Boy.
But none of it really matters. The aliens have told Henry that the world is going to end in 144 days. Only Henry himself can prevent it by pressing a big red button, and he’s not going to.
Or is he?
Big Questions for Little People
The premise of We Are the Ants by Shaun David Hutchinson is simple: Will Henry press the button?
Even though it is a YA novel, Hutchinson is not afraid to ask the big questions. Is life worth living? Does humanity deserve to exist? Henry asks himself these questions on each of the 144 days remaining until the end of the world.
No, he thinks when he remembers his dead boyfriend.
No, he thinks when the bullies at school call him Space Boy.
No, he thinks when his brother’s girlfriend gets pregnant by accident.
But it’s not as easy as that.
Is Love the Solution?
Because one day, a new student walks into his class. Diego Vega is his name. Diego doesn’t know about Space Boy, nor does he care. He just likes Henry for who he is.
Henry can’t believe his luck. When he’s with Diego, he doesn’t want the world to end. He feels safe and happy with him.
But Shaun David Hutchinson wouldn’t be Shaun David Hutchinson if Diego was the solution to all of Henry’s problems. Diego has a dark past of his own to deal with.
In contrast to Henry, he is just trying not to let it define his present.
“We remember the past, live in the present, and write the future.”
The bullying at school gets worse, Henry’s family is drifting apart, and nobody seems to care about him (except his chemistry teacher, which doesn’t really help).
Henry blames himself for his boyfriend’s suicide as well as his father’s disappearance. He thinks he doesn’t deserve anybody’s love and pushes everyone away — even the people who love him.
There’s No Easy Way Out
Henry struggles to find a way out of his misery, and the reader struggles with him.
Hutchinson isn’t the kind of author to give his character a new love interest to solve everything. He doesn’t just let the obvious happen. A lot of plot twists in We Are the Ants are really surprising.
“The universe may forget us, but it doesn’t matter. Because we are the ants, and we’ll keep marching on.”
The same is true in real life. Life hardly offers obvious solutions, and if it does, they tend to go wrong.
This is what makes We Are the Ants by Shaun David Hutchinson a masterpiece of young adult literature: It is raw, realistic, and relatable.
Too many books, too little time? I’ve got five free tips for you on how to read more. Click here to get my exclusive tips.
Please note: The book links above are Better World Books affiliate links. If you buy anything through those links, I will earn a small commission.