by Shaun David Hutchinson
Release Date: January 19th 2016
Publisher: Simon Pulse, Simon & Schuster Audio
Narrator: Gibson Frazier
Length: 9 hrs and 14 mins
Genres: Science Fiction, Young Adult
Find It: Goodreads • Amazon • Barnes & Noble • Audible
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.
I hadn’t planned on reading this one, simply because it had a “sci-fi” mention, which always makes me a bit hesitant. Let’s face it… I am not a science fiction person. The whole aliens and other planets thing just doesn’t work for me, more often than not. (There have been exceptions though, such as The Lunar Chronicles, and, of course, Illuminae, which I WILL be reading this year!) When I was informed that this reads much more like a contemporary with little alien elements of sci-fi thrown in, I decided it could work and I downloaded the audiobook. Good news – I totally loved it!
So many feels. Soooooo many. This story definitely tugged at my heartstrings quite a bit. Henry having to deal with the loss of his boyfriend, who committed suicide, was so heart-wrenching in and of itself. Add to that the depression of certain characters and bullying/disgusting peer harassment over his claiming having been abducted by aliens, and I was having trouble staying calm and collected at times. Kids can be so cruel. This is totally real life, and it breaks my heart to think of teenagers these days going through the things they are forced to deal with. It’s not a situation of “kids will be kids” either. This behavior happens all too often and is completely unacceptable. Seeing it in this story so stark and real crushed me.
“We may not get to choose how we die, but we can chose how we live. The universe may forget us, but it doesn’t matter. Because we are the ants, and we’ll keep marching on.”
The way this story was told through these characters was truly exceptional. Henry wasn’t gay just so that this story had a gay character. He OWNED his gayness and didn’t use it as a crouch, and neither did the author. I loved seeing a confident gay character in a YA book that wasn’t struggling to accept himself. Henry was past that point, and I loved see his confidence and self-awareness shine through.
This is such a fantastic diverse read that so many people can benefit from reading. I can see now why the Goodreads rating is 4.24 with over 5,600 reviews. I wish it had more like 10,000 or 20,000 reviews, to be honest. This is a hidden gem, and I truly hope more people discover it and give it a read.
I really enjoyed Gibson Frazier performance throughout this story, specifically Henry’s character. What a likeable character he was, and Gibson brought him to life in a way that it was impossible not to love him and route for him through this journey in his life. His voice was also rather soothing, which I enjoyed, and not annoying-sounding like some other male narrators have been in YA books. I’d definitely recommend going the audio route with this one!
Have you read We Are the Ants? How do you feel about alien stories? And, most importantly, would you push the big red button??