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 didn’t know what I was going to get when I started We Are the Ants. I knew what had been talked about but I did not know how much this book was going to affect me. Boy – did it. I hope that my review makes sense because I DID love this book so much.
I will say that for those who like trigger warnings this book includes: verbal/physical bullying, abuse, suicide (out of book), depression, and sexual assault.
Besides the fact that Henry was a boy and gay, his situation in the beginning of the story was one that I knew. I lost best friend growing up to suicide and I grappled a lot with that loss the same way both Henry and Audrey did in this story.
With this being said, Henry is a character that you can’t help but love – but also feel yourself hating at the same time. I feel that he is ultimately a realistic representation of the abuse and how someone who is depressed mentality is. But the parts of Henry that I hate are pieces of myself that I hated looking back at myself as a teenager suffering from depression and at some points of my life emotional/physical abuse. Henry is not a reliable narrator. One particular moment struck me in his unreliability.
“I think that most people would have pressed the button the moment they realized the stakes. Most people are motivated by their own self-interest, and pushing the button would ensure their survival. But I’m not most people. Maybe that’s why the sluggers chose me”
In this particular part two sides of me warred – my adult side and my teenage side. I remember having some of these same thoughts (not in the context of aliens but you get the point) as a teenager. But I wish that there was someone in Henry’s life that would be there to help him, talk to him, and just love him but also to smack some sense into him. Again – I understand this. I know Henry’s pain from his best friend, and boyfriend, committing suicide. His pain is mine and for that I think while reading I was a bit harsher on him then most characters.
I will say this, as the story went on the more I empathized with Henry and less wanted to throttle him. What he went through is horrible. The constant stream of abuse he suffers at the hands of pretty much everyone he is around – some of which are supposed to care for him (some even SAY they do all the while abusing him). My heart burned for him and I just wanted him to be happy.
One thing Hutchinson did was he created not only a main character you loved but secondary characters that you did as well. Audrey, Diego, and Henry’s older brother Carlie are all characters that at the end of the story I loved way more than I did at the beginning of the story.
I still believe that Henry would fall under the unreliable narrator and if you plan on reading this book you should go into the story with that in mind. This fact did not stop my enjoyment of the book in the slightest and I can see why it is the favorite of so many people.