Jump to ratings and reviews
Rate this book

We Are the Ants #1

We Are the Ants

Rate this book
From the author of The Five Stages of Andrew Brawley comes a brand-new novel about a teenage boy who must decide whether or not the world is worth saving.

Henry Denton has spent years being periodically abducted by aliens. Then the aliens give him an ultimatum: The world will end in 144 days, and all Henry has to do to stop it is push a big red button.

Only he isn’t sure he wants to.

After all, life hasn’t been great for Henry. His mom is a struggling waitress held together by a thin layer of cigarette smoke. His brother is a jobless dropout who just knocked someone up. His grandmother is slowly losing herself to Alzheimer’s. And Henry is still dealing with the grief of his boyfriend’s suicide last year.

Wiping the slate clean sounds like a pretty good choice to him.

But Henry is a scientist first, and facing the question thoroughly and logically, he begins to look for pros and cons: in the bully who is his perpetual one-night stand, in the best friend who betrayed him, in the brilliant and mysterious boy who walked into the wrong class. Weighing the pain and the joy that surrounds him, Henry is left with the ultimate choice: push the button and save the planet and everyone on it…or let the world—and his pain—be destroyed forever.

455 pages, Hardcover

First published January 19, 2016

Loading interface...
Loading interface...

About the author

Shaun David Hutchinson

25 books4,566 followers
Shaun is a major geek and all about nerdy shenanigans. He is the author of many queer books for young adults. Find out more information at shaundavidhutchinson.com. He currently lives in Seattle and watches way too much Doctor Who.

Ratings & Reviews

What do you think?
Rate this book

Friends & Following

Create a free account to discover what your friends think of this book!

Community Reviews

5 stars
19,345 (44%)
4 stars
14,709 (33%)
3 stars
7,060 (16%)
2 stars
2,050 (4%)
1 star
729 (1%)
Displaying 1 - 30 of 7,392 reviews
Profile Image for Emily May.
1,921 reviews290k followers
January 24, 2016
Your entire sense of self-worth is predicated upon your belief that you matter, that you matter to the universe.
But you don't.
Because we are the ants.

My first 5 stars of 2016!

This book. Seriously. I hadn't read any of the author's other work. I wasn't even sure that the premise promised a book I would like. My curiosity was piqued when I saw the good critical reviews it was getting, but that has meant little in the past so I wasn't completely convinced...

But it was so damn good. The truth is, while I always wait for the end before deciding on a book rating, most of the time there's a little part of me that just knows near the beginning when I've picked up a 5-star book. It's a book that does something a bit different, and it has a pull you know will drag you through those pages.

Henry Denton's narrative is so compelling, nihilistic and hilarious. He's a smart, witty and very funny human being, prone to one tragic misfortune after another. The way he portrays and explores the world around him is excellent, showing us intricate family bonds, friendships, love and all the wonder and horror of the world we live in.

The book opens with Henry telling us about the aliens. The aliens who have abducted him several times, conducted experiments on him, and finally given him the ultimate choice. The world is going to end, but pushing a button will stop it - will Henry find reason to save the world?

In the wrong hands, it could have been unbearably cheesy, but the tone is just right. Dark, but often comical. Sad, but full of heart-warming moments too.

The description gives the impression that Henry meets Diego and his perspective on life changes, but it's far more complex than that. This book is not a romance, and so many characters have an important part to play in the telling of the story: Henry's ex-boyfriend who committed suicide, his alcoholic wannabe-chef mother, the popular boy who makes out with him one minute and bullies him the next, his grandmother with Alzheimer's, his college-dropout brother, as well as others.

All the characters are so well-developed, all are complex, none are throwaway. Hutchinson weaves relationships gradually, throughout the novel, showing all the layers that exist underneath the surface and - ultimately - showing that every person has more than one side, is more than one thing.

It's the kind of truly smart and insightful book that doesn't come along too often. And it left my mind spinning with thoughts long after I finished the last page.

Blog | Facebook | Twitter | Instagram | Youtube | Pinterest
Profile Image for Kat.
256 reviews78.6k followers
July 13, 2022
all I can say is that reading this in the year 2020 is an experience and a half
Profile Image for Kai Spellmeier.
Author 5 books13.5k followers
November 20, 2020
"I could paint you sometime."
"I'm afraid to ask what you see when you look at me."
"You wouldn't believe me."

This was my second book by Shaun David Hutchinson and I loved it even more than The Five Stages of Andrew Brawley. It deals with several heavy topics like depression, Alzheimers, suicide and bullying, as well as science, family, love and friendship, a combination that works perfectly.

We are the Ants is very raw and real, and it has everything to do with its characters. They are all broken somehow, and so precious at the same time. Everyone of them copes with reality in a different way, some better than others. All of them have this character-depth and grow throughout the story. Even and especially Henry's brother, who I hated in the beginning, but went through the most surprising changes. I also fell in love with Audrey and Diego, Henry's closest friends, as well as Mrs. Faraci, his teacher.

I just love the writing. It's beautiful and smart and brought me to tears. There is so much truth in SDH's words. I hope he never stops writing. Here are a few of my favourite quotes:

“Dreams are hopeful because they exist as pure possibility. Unlike memories, which are fossils, long dead and buried deep.”

“Sometimes I think gravity may be death in disguise. Other times I think gravity is love, which is why love's only demand is that we fall.”

“You spend your life hoarding memories against the day you'll lack the energy to go out and make new ones, because that's the comfort of the old age. The ability to look back at your life and know that you left your mark on the world. But I'm losing my memories, it's like someone's broken into my piggy bank and is robbing me one penny at a time. It's happening so slowly, I can hardly tell what's missing.”

I wasn't surprised to find this book to be even darker than The Five Stages of Andrew Brawley. What shocked me most was the violence in Henry's family and the bullying he suffers at school. Bullying sucks. And with everything that drags Henry down already, I'm still surprised he didn't break completely after what happened to him. Henry gets publicly shamed, insulted and disrespected in the most horrible ways. That's what broke me inside. I really felt for him in those moments, it made me unbearably angry and sad.
The only thing that bugged me was the aliens, the abductions and every single time I stumbled on the word slugger. It made me cringe. Henry really had enough problems, vanishing for days and the turning up in strange places, without clothes or memories of how he got there, was something he could have done without.

Feminism and Sexuality:
This book has some messages. They're not obvious or loud, but they're subtle. It made me so happy. There was no coming out scene. In an ideal world nobody has to "come out". The baby's room wasn't painted in pink just because it was a girl. In an ideal world nobody forces colours to be gender-specified. The principal, physics teacher and police officer weren't all white and male. In an ideal world positions of power are equally represented by all genders and races.

Thank you for this incredibly honest novel. I'm looking forward to S. H. Hutchinson's future projects.

Find more of my books on Instagram
Profile Image for Melanie.
1,151 reviews97.7k followers
June 25, 2018

“We may not get to choose how we die, but we can choose how we live. The universe may forget us, but it doesn't matter. Because we are the ants, and we'll keep marching on.”

We Are the Ants is a really beautiful story about being a teenager, being gay, and not being accepted. This is a story about heartbreak, loss, grief, and trying to figure out who you are in the midst of it all. I’ll be honest, I didn’t love the start of this book, but I completely fell in love with the middle and end. And I totally understand why so many of my friends hail this as their favorite book of all time.

But the reason I’m giving this four stars is because the first part of this book felt just so vulgar. Like, maybe it’s because I’m a grown woman and I don’t want to read about teenage boners, but like the first part of this book just reads crude and bad. I was honestly scared I was going to end up hating this book. Which would have really surprised me, because Shaun David Hutchinson’s short story in the All Out Anthology was my favorite in the entire collection. It was so beautifully written, so lyrical, so immersive, so empowering. And luckily for me, I didn’t give up hope, because We Are the Ants ended up being all of those things, too.

“That's the problem with memories: you can visit them, but you can't live in them.”

This book stars a young boy named Henry who is grieving the loss of his boyfriend who recently committed suicide. His home situation isn’t great either, from a mom that is also unhappy, a brother that is abusive and making some big life changes, and a grandmother who can hardly remember his name. Also, Henry is the joke of his high school and has been dubbed “Space Boy” because he frequently gets abducted by aliens, regardless of who believes him or not.

We get to witness some of Henry’s alien abductions, but on one particular visit, he is given a choice to save the world or to leave it for impending destruction. Henry has 144 days to decide if the world is worth saving.

“If you knew the world was going to end, and you could press a button to prevent it, would you?”

This book does deal with so many heavy topics, so please use caution and make sure you are in the right mindset. Trigger and content warnings for attempted rape, sexual assault, outing, suicide, a lot of physical abuse, extreme bullying, homophobia, homophobic slurs, drug addiction, alcoholism, grief, depression, abandonment, loss of a loved one, talk of self-harm/cutting, and having a loved one with Alzheimer's disease.

Another important aspect I love in this book was the depictions of adults. First off, Henry’s mother is dealing with so many things, and so much heartache of her own, and she doesn’t hide it. I’m not saying everything she did was healthy, but it's realistic and I think it’s something really important for more teens to read and see that they aren’t alone. High key, Ms. Faraci was my favorite character. I seriously loved that teacher and her honest advice that sometimes awful people do indeed succeed in the world, but it doesn’t mean that they will always be in your life. I also just loved seeing a teacher care about a student the way that she did with Henry. It was truly heartwarming and meant a lot to me.

Another really real and raw theme of the book is how we use other people to fill a void left by someone else. And how we will make excuses and justifications for the only person who is making us feel something, even if they are abusive and manipulative. This just really spoke to my soul, honestly.

I wouldn’t say that this book is about romance, but there is a romance element and let me climb up on the rooftops and scream that the love interest in this book is a Latinx Pansexual boy! You all, I was not expecting pan rep in this book, and even though the actual word is not on the page, my heart was so damn happy.

Overall, Shaun David Hutchinson has now impressed me twice in 2018 and I’m no longer going to sleep on his work. I think he’s so immensely talented, and all the elements that are a part of his stories are honestly life changing and saving. And I hope you all might consider picking up We Are the Ants and get blown away, too.

“Depression isn't a war you win. It's a battle you fight every day. You never stop, never get to rest. It's one bloody fray after another.”
This story is truly holds such an important discussion about mental illness and how it is something that you have to always manage and keep up with, because it never goes away, no matter how many alien abductions happen. And I’m going to leave some numbers here:

National Suicide Prevention Lifeline: http://suicidepreventionlifeline.org
In a crisis, call their free and 24/ 7 U.S. hotline: 1-800-273-TALK (8255)
Contact their Crisis Text Line: text TALK to 741-741
National Hopeline Network: http://hopeline.com / 1-800-442-HOPE (4673)
American Association of Suicidology: http://suicidology.org
American Foundation for Suicide Prevention: http://afsp.org
Suicide Prevention Resource Center: http://sprc.org

Alliance of Hope for Suicide Survivors: http://allianceofhope.org
American Association of Suicidology survivors page: http://suicidology.org/suicide-surviv...
Friends for Survival: http://friendsforsurvival.org
National Suicide Prevention Lifeline survivors page: http://suicidepreventionlifeline.org/...
Suicide Awareness Voices of Education: http://save.org

Mental Health America: http://mentalhealthamerica.net
National Alliance on Mental Illness: http://nami.org
National Institute of Mental Health: http://nimh.nih.gov

Also, I found all of these resources from The Astonishing Color of After by Emily X.R. Pan, which is another amazing book that I completely recommend for anyone looking for more books that center around mental illness. And I’m obvious not a therapist, but my DMs will always be open for anyone who just needs a friend to talk to. You are deserving of love and happiness, sometimes it just takes a little while to find those things, but I promise you are worthy of them. And I promise that you matter.

Blog | Instagram | Twitter | Tumblr | Youtube | Twitch

Buddy read with Alexis and Lily! ❤
Profile Image for emma.
1,783 reviews42.8k followers
May 31, 2022

Like. I’m sure if you click with this book - if you care about the characters, if you believe the world, if you’re invested - it’s super meaningful and powerful and great.

But if you DON’T do those things…

it is truly a one-way plane ticket to sadness and suffering. And boy oh boy is it a turbulent ride.

No surprise, I’m of the latter group.

This is actually, legitimately 455 pages of horrifying bleakness. Imagine every terrible thing you can think of including in a young adult book, and there’s an 8 in 10 chance you’ll find it in this manuscript of pain.

Bullying? Yes.

Suicidal thoughts? You betcha.

Suicide? Uh huh.

Depression? Nonstop, baby.

Grief (over the death of a friend / boyfriend)? Forever.

Abuse? All over the place.

I’m not someone who judges a book by the number of trigger warnings it needs. To be honest, the pre-release discussion around Ninth House really pissed me off, because a book doesn’t need to be under a certain restriction for the number of difficult topics it’s allowed to include. And in Ninth House, everything that was included was included for a reason.

That is not the case, in my opinion, for We Are the Ants.

Here, it’s gratuitous.

Not much happens in this book that isn’t completely difficult to read. There’s actually no plot other than the reader watching the protagonist suffer.

I sincerely felt that everything was left by the wayside that wasn’t pain. Characters felt flat and undeveloped, the world (which included ALIENS!) was half-baked, the plot was nonexistent, and relationship and development arcs were completely thrown together at the end.

In short, this was a massive bummer. And basically for no reason.

Bottom line: Again, if this book worked for you and meant something to you, I’m not trying to take that away. But for me, it was nothing more than 455 pages of ouch ouch ouch.

currently reading updates

this book should have a "you must be this tall to read" sign.........


.....because it's an emotional rollercoaster. 😎
Profile Image for ✨    jami   ✨.
653 reviews3,840 followers
May 27, 2017
The universe may forget us but it doesn't matter. Because we are the ants, and we'll keep marching on

When people used to say to me what do you want to be when you grow up? I'd ALWAYS say astronaut. In fact, I still want to be an astronaut .. I just don't think I will be ( unfortunately it turns out getting to space involves a shit ton of MATH and I don't do math very well.)

But the point stands I am absolutely a SLUT for space. What can I say, stars are pretty, planets intrigue me and I want to meet me some aliens (and yes aliens are real, you can't tell me in a universe of 60 tillion planets there aren't some aliens about somewhere)

ANYWAY, this relates, I promise. We are The Ants has space, and aliens too. Space isn't the only thing that made me fall in love with this book but it helped. The aliens helped too. But what also helped was the incredible characters, the witty dialogue, the beautiful prose, the enchanting plot line, the emotions that this book dragged out of me and had churning within the first few pages.

by dvnwild on tumblr

Listen, I NEVER recommend contemporaries. I DO NOT LIKE CONTEMPORARIES !! Traditionally, anyway. Of course there was some that get me all emotional. We are the Ants is a contemporary I didn't just enjoy, but fell head over heels for. I love this book.

This book man. It's kinda The Perks of Being a Wallflower meets ET and holy shit I love it. Our main character, Henry Denton, is a victim of reoccurring alien abductions. (YES PEOPLE, aliens are a thing in this book) and yet somehow the fact the aliens abduct him all the time (And at inconvenient times might I add) that isn't even his main problem Because not only do the aliens abduct him, they've also told him the world is ending in 144 days unless he stops it.

Actually, I wanna slow this down and sober it up a bit because it is a heavy book. And like, the space and aliens are fun but this book isn't entirely fun. Henry Denton, the protagonist, is coping with a lot. His dad walked out on his family, his mum is a mess, his unemployed college drop out brother has a pregnant girlfriend and Henry's boyfriend, Jesse, recently committed suicide. So on top of alien invasions he's dealing with a bit. He's supposed to save the world for the aliens, and he's not even sure it's worth it.


This book is heavy, and it's bizarre and I love it. The main character is wonderful. I constantly have an issue with how teenage boys are written in books - I can never connect. But I connected with Henry, oh my god I loved him. I sympathised with him so much, I understood him completely and I found him to be a perceptive, thoughtful narrator who successfully gave me an existisitential crisis. And me, a catastrophic thinker, could relate a little too much to his overthinking.

But really, I love all the characters in this. Mysterious Diego, Audrey, Marcus and Zooey, I loved them all by the end. (but not Adrian tho. Fuck Adrian. )

The most beautiful thing about this though was the prose. The writing was literally stunning. Rich, with a wry tone and a frank perspective on the world. I enjoyed that while it was philosophical and reflective, it was also a bit deadpan and didn't beat around the bush. I liked the way this book offered a reflection on the things that worry us as people, and how it was ultimately hopeful despite all the despair and the heaviness of some of the themes.

We Are the Ants covers some heavy themes and topics. I loved it for it's LGBT+ representation, but be aware there are trigger warnings for rape, suicide
Despite that I think it's important, and I'm glad this book gave an honest perspective into some of the troubles facing both the teenage lgbt+ community, but also just teenagers in general. I loved the cast of diverse characters with interesting backstories. AND I LOVED THE REPRESENTATION OF MEDICATION !! STOP DEMONISING MEDICATION IN YOUR BOOKS But this book man. .. It can be dark, and heavy and it weighs on you, you truly feel the depth and weight of this book. I adore that. I adore it.

I loved the messages this book sent, and the way the problems and issues were tackled. I liked that things were not neatly tied in a bow, I liked the ambiguous ending.

In fact, there wasn't much at all I didn't like (it is a 5* book for a reason). But this is one of those books that was a 5* from the opening page to the last. There was simply not a moment I did not love? I read this in one sitting pretty much and I was emotionally drained by the end, but I was in love.

I've truly never read anything like this. For me, contemporary YA is becoming alot of the same but this stood out. I haven't been so shook by a contemporary since I read The Perks of Being a Wallflower back in 2012 or something.

I adore this book so much. I think everyone should read it. It's raw, it's honest. A poignant insight into people, and how we so desperately try to make things matter. A reminder that we matter on a small level to those around us, that being great does not mean achieving fame and notoriety.

And it's incredibly, disgustingly underrated and under read. This book is truly beautiful, and important and still makes me so emotional just by looking at the cover. I think about this book everyday. It deserves more attention, it's a truly beautiful book.

It's a book about remembering and cherishing the small things, about learning to let go, about loving fiercely and making sacrifices. About remembering we are who we are, that we define ourselves. That we matter. Oh, and it's about aliens too.


“We're not words, Henry, we're people.
Words are how others define us, but we can define ourselves any way we choose.”

Profile Image for Alienor ✘ French Frowner ✘.
828 reviews3,675 followers
February 15, 2021

This is, my friends - without any doubt - the most unexpected and remarkable book I've read this year (and the year before, if I'm being honest), soothing and yet poignant at the same time. I feel as if I should wait and write a better review because let's face it, my midnight thoughts hardly come close to what this book deserves but I can't. I'm ecstatic and barely thinking straight as huge is its impact on me, and honestly? I need to vent.

As far as 5 stars ratings are concerned, mines are often of two kinds : the flashy, mind-blowing, usually crazy ones (what? I love my evil cutters), and the quietly unforgettable others. We Are the Ants is part of the latter : I can't, for the life of me, think about something I didn't like in this strange and beautiful story.

Closing this novel, I feel like a walking-talking-contradiction : speechless, and yet so many words are fighting fiercely into my mind for the honor of - perhaps - convincing you to give it the chance I strongly think it deserves.

► Must I mention the splendid characterization that gives life to these flawed, multi-layered and endearing human beings, whose relationships are pictured in such honest and real way? Speaking of which, do you know why I think that Shaun David Hutchinson shows so much talent when creating his characters? Because albeit begrudgingly, I can't hate any member of Henry's family - they're messed-up sometimes, but oh, how they ring true! Their struggles, their reluctances, their mistakes - none of them can hide the profound love they feel for each others, even if they don't always know how to show that yes, they do care. Also, Diego. Gah. I won't say much and let you discover this hopeful wonder of a boy by yourself but trust me, he won't let you indifferent.

► Can I gush about the fact that everything is beautifully crafted, every event way more complicated than it first appears? Forget the blurb and your - well-deserved - doubts : although Henry's journey is freaking weird, it works wonderfully.

► Should I talk about the heartbreaking yet so realistic confusion between what the characters believe about themselves and the reality? How the fog they're walking in can be both their end and their relief? How Henry's narration, hovering between lucidity and delusion, never loses its hilarious and off-beat spikes, especially when he describes the world we're living in? Gosh, I'm still recovering from the SnowFlake Page. So fucking true.

☞ I could go on and on and on for hours, it wouldn't do it more justice than this little sentence can : We Are the Ants is brilliant, and like nothing I read before. Oh, who am I kidding? It just entered my all-times favorites. Highly recommended.

PS. I may never get over the giant cockroaches. Bloody HELL.

Reread 06/25 : Granted, I have no time to come on Goodreads lately, let alone read. Yet I woke up this morning, took a look at the news and thought, THIS WORLD SUCKS. I know that it will seem incredibly arrogant, but I can't stand the general idiocy anymore. If there have always been subjects that maddened me (gender equality, racism, you name it), it seems to me that they keep multiply on a daily basis. Am I the only one who gets the impression that everything I care about is imploding? That we're stupidly taking a path that destroyed us in the past? Although I'm not sure that We Are the Ants will help, I need the break, really.

For more of my reviews, please visit:
Profile Image for Emily (Books with Emily Fox).
525 reviews56.6k followers
October 7, 2017
4.5 This book was sold to me as a "Teenage boy with a lot going on in his life is being abducted by aliens once in a while"

While this is true I would consider this book a contemporary dealing with suicide, mental illness and a lot more. A very moving book!

If you liked "Aristotle and Dante Discover the Secrets of the Universe", "Simon vs the Homo Sapiens Agenda" or "I'll Give You the Sun"... you need to pick this up!
Profile Image for Gabby.
1,170 reviews25.4k followers
March 18, 2022
I just reread this book for the third time and it was absolutely incredible again.
"Your entire sense of self-worth is predicated upon your belief that you matter, that you matter to the universe. But you don't. Because we are the ants."

Holy shit you guys, this book just changed my life I think. This book just reminded me why I love reading and why I read books. I don't even know how to properly review this incredible book. the premise of this story sounds ridiculous - a teenage boy Henry is abducted by aliens and the aliens tell him the world is coming to an end, but he has the chance to prevent it by pressing this red button. But Henry struggles to decide whether or not the world is worth saving. Henry's life is hell; his boyfriend Jesse committed suicide, his Father left his family when he was 13, his older brother is an asshole to him most of the time and he just knocked up his girlfriend, and his grandma has dementia and doesn't always remember who they are. The premise of this story might sound ridiculous, but it was executed so well.

This is one of the most inspiring stories I've ever read. As soon as I read the first chapter of this book I knew I would rate it 5 stars. The first chapter of this book is one of the most powerful and promising first chapters I've ever read. I picked up this book last night just wanting to start it, but I wasn't expecting to fall in love with it so quickly and devour this book the way I did. Last night I read 320 pages and this morning I woke up and went to the book store and purchased it so I could read the rest and highlight and tab and write in it. I think I used all of my blue tabs tabbing this book and my highlighter is almost out of ink. The way I can best describe this book would be: Donnie Darko meets Aristotle and Dante Discover the Secrets of the Universe meets The Perks of Being A Wallflower. If you love any of these three things, you will fall in love with this story. I pictured Henry as Donnie Darko while I was reading because he fits the description perfectly, and like Donnie Darko, Henry thinks about the world ending and what he needs to do about it. This book is like Donnie Darko if Donnie Darko had GLBT and aliens.

"That's the problem with memories: you can visit them, but you can't live in them."

Henry is very depressed, and some parts of this book were very hard to read. It made me cry more than once, quite often actually, and I really wanted to give him a hug. From the moment Diego was introduced in this book I knew I loved him. He's so positive and happy and he's such a good influence on Henry. Henry needs that in his life. Diego never judges him or questions him and he tells him things like: "There's an amazing world out there for you to discover, Henry Denton, but you have to be willing to discover yourself first." and just beautiful things like that.

"Dreams are hopeful because they exist as pure possibility. Unlike memories, which are fossils, long dead and buried deep."

This book is full of amazing, fleshed out characters. Everyone in this book has a story of their own, and experiences some kind of grief. His Mom, his brother Charley, Zoey (his brothers girlfriend), Diego, his teacher Ms. Faraci, Jesse's Mom, Marcus, Audrey (his best friend before Jesse died), Henry's grandmother who is slowly losing her memory. Everyone in this story makes an impact on Henry's life and has an incredibly detailed story of their own and I admire that. Also, this book is full of tragedy's and sometimes I even questioned whether the world (or at least Henry's world) was worth saving. I love how Henry would ask every single person he came into contact with if the world was coming to an end and they had the power to save it would they? And each character would give him a very unique and different response based on their situations and what they were going through. I loved the inspiring conversations Henry would have with Zooey and his Mother.

"Because you can only die once but you can suffer forever."

This book talks about life in the most honest and beautiful way in my opinion. It really makes you question why we do the things we do and whether it's all worth it. What do we do it all for? He constantly explains how the universe won't remember us and even when we die everything will carry on eventually. We're all going to die one way or another and we probably won' be remembered long after we die. It's just the reality, and I this book really dives deep into this idea of why we even bother living and doing the things we do. "We remember the past, live in the present, and write the future."

This book blew me away honestly. I genuinely wasn't expecting to like it as much as I did. The first and last chapters of this book are some of the best first and last chapters in a book I've ever read. The last page of this book left me breathless and lost in thought. I'm in love with this story, with these characters. I don't remember the last time a book has affected me so emotionally like this one has. I think it's incredible when a book has the power to change a person, and in some small way, I really do believe this book has changed me. This story will stick with me for a very long time and I'm already looking forward to re-reading it.

Book Playlist:
-Blood by The Middle East
-1904 by Benjamin Francis Leftwich
-Cycling Trivialities by Jose Gonzalez
-The Breach by Dustin Tebbutt
-Naked As We Came by Iron & Wine
-Down The Line by Jose Gonzalez

First read: February 11th, 2016
Second read: October 12th, 2016 (audiobook)
Third read: December 26th, 2019
Profile Image for anna (½ of readsrainbow).
561 reviews1,733 followers
June 4, 2021
edit: shaun david hutchinson said that this is quite possibly his favorite description of the book ever, so

you know how in "once more, with feeling" buffy can't stop dancing her final number, until spike catches her & sings that life is just living?? this feels a lot like that, only it's gay & there's science™

(tw depression, suicide, bullying, attempted sexual assault)
Profile Image for Kayla Dawn.
291 reviews883 followers
March 19, 2019
Hmm. I don't really know tbh. This one is hard to rate for me.

First of all, this was a really quick read. I flew through the pages. The writing style was okay most of the time (But next time dear Hutchinson please double check if your translations are correct!! If you want to write something in a different language you need to make sure that it's not complete bullshit lol - he literally translated "I miss you so much Dad" with "Ich hab dich so sehr, Papa verpasst" - sorry for the english speaking people but the germans will know why this is a blood bath)

The dialogues felt real and it was easy to understand the emotions of the characters. I think Hutchinson portrayed a realistic way of grieving and blaming yourself, feeling guilty especially when you fall in love with someone else.

I really "enjoyed" (weird in this context but you know) the storyline between Charlie and Zooey. Only time I cried while reading this book was because of something that happened to them.
Even though Charlie was a little overdone as a character particularly in his role as a brother. Pissing on Henrys homework because he didn't leave the bath quickly enough? Ok sure.

I loved Audrey, she always tried to be a good friend and stood up against people who acted like assholes (except this one time where she said suicide is egoistic, please don't do that).

Plus I absolutely adored the fact that Henry being homosexual wasn't a big deal at all. Don't get me wrong I love how this topics becomes more and more important and talked about but I also love seeing it as a normal part of our life, without being the point of attention. Because that's how it should be. Normal.


I hated Henry. Seriously. He was awful 90% of time and treated everyone around him like shit. And he was always like "nothing matters, I don't matter" on the one hand but "it all is my fault, he did this because of me and he did that because of me" on the other hand which doesn't make much sense.
I get it, he was grieving and confused and didn't know how to feel but it bothers me so much that people in ya books about grieve always act like the feelings of other people don't matter. They always treat them like shit. That's just not okay. There are definitely people out there who act like that after losing someone but that doesn't make it any better.

I also felt like the end was overdramatized. Thrown in just to make it a little more shocking I guess. I don't know it just felt a little unrealistic to me.

I'm still not sure if this whole alien thing was supposed to be a metaphor or not. It's probably up to the reader to decide. I'd definitely prefer it if it was in his imagination only. Like sleepwalking or something tbh because it was just too crazy in an otherwise normal contemporary book in my opinion.

Overall this was a good book, it makes you think. I'd definitely recommend it if you like this kind of contemporary books! ☺️

Review is a little all over the place because new thoughts always come to my mind and I have to throw them in somewhere lol sorry.
Profile Image for jessica.
2,477 reviews29.7k followers
August 2, 2018
the fact that i enjoyed a book about aliens makes me worried that i was abducted and brainwashed by aliens. lol.

in many ways, this reminded me of hutchinsons other book, ‘at the edge of the universe.’ they were different where it mattered, but the structure and overall basis of the books were quite similar. so much so that i could probably copy my review for ATEOTU and paste it here and it would work just fine.

again, hutchinson shows that he has a talent for writing heart-wrenching, but hopeful, stories. he is able to tackle various sensitive topics (maybe even too many at times) but still have his story be realistic and genuine. but where he gets me is his writing. i dont annotate my books, but if i did, i think about 80% of my book would be highlighted. just the way he crafts his words to make them so raw and relatable is impressive. i especially love how he showed that science is present in every aspect of our lives, even explaining that its what makes life beautiful.

this book resonated with me more than i thought it would and SDH keeps bumping himself up on my favourite authors list. i cant wait to read more from him!

4 stars
Profile Image for Warda.
1,090 reviews17.4k followers
June 5, 2018
“Your entire sense of self-worth is predicated upon your belief that you matter, that you matter to the universe. But you don't. Because we are the ants.”

This is going to be slightly difficult to review.
Our main character has been abducted by aliens. They give him a choice. A choice where the fate of the world rests on his shoulder. He's been given 144 days to decide whether he wants to end to world or save it. But Henry isn't sure whether he wants to.

Safe to say this is an important book, because of the numerous themes it discusses, the pivotal point being about life itself and how insignificant our impact on the world really is, since, really, ‘we are the ants.’
I love how the author spoke about life through Henry's eyes and the casual alien abducting him. Despite that addition, it all felt too painfully real.
The tone of our main character was captured so well. As a reader, I felt his emotions, his despair, his constant questioning of his worth and identity and his battle with grief and depression. I was walking with him through his journey and desperately wanted things for him to get better!

It was intense. The story was narrated in such a unique fashion, it racks with ones brains. It’s heavy, humorous, dark and slightly traumatic and puts forth the question: Is the world worth saving? Living? And if you had the power to stop the world from ending, would you?
Profile Image for Elyse Walters.
3,847 reviews34.9k followers
June 5, 2016
Update... from the book festival...
Shaun David Hutchinson read the first two pages of his book.. a room of about 50 people were laughing hysterically.
He is so real...
So wonderful. He says he has ADHD. He was an average kid in school. One of the themes in is books is that his main character is average who is presented with extraordinary things to do. He wants to give the nerds a place to shine in the world.

His book "We Are The Ants" is really great!!!
So is this author!!!!

"Popularity is teenage heroin. Kids who have tasted it crave more; those who have it in
abundance are revered as gods; and even those who have never basked in the light of glory secretly desire it, regardless of what they say to the contrary. Popularity can transform an otherwise normal kid into a narcissistic, ego-obsessed, materialistic asshole".
"Not that I would know. I have never been, nor wanted to be, popular. Popularity is the reason Marcus ridicules me in public and makes out with me when we're alone".
OUCH!!!!!!! That last sentence put such a wrench in my gut - I had a hard time letting it go.

Henry Denton is dealing with grief.....(his boyfriend has committed suicide, he has loss friends, his father left their family, his grandmother has Alzheimer's--( she lives with them), his older brother Charlie punches him out if he feels like it, and is a college drop out who knocked up his girlfriend, Zooey. His mother is a chain smoker, and is struggling to hold his family together.
Oh....and aliens ( who abducted him at age 13 and have continued to take him from his bed to board their ship on and off for years)....has given him an "opportunity".
The world is going to end unless Henry pushes a big RED BUTTON. He has total responsibility whether or not to save the world. He is give 144 days to make up his mind.

However, no matter what more I say about this book...no matter how many reviews you read... I swear to God.... unless you read it yourself ....word for word....
we might as well just talk about Cowboys and Indians.

It's a book worth reading. You'll form strong opinions about the characters...( positive and negative). It's the type of story which could be read several time... as the layers are endless.

For me...this book is less about being gay -( but Henry is gay), or coming of age - ( but he is still very young), but more about how we deal with grief - at any age!

Brilliantly written ......( sci-fi....'soft')....for those who shy away from anything science fiction. A book to love and adore!

*I get to meet the author Shaun David Hutchinson this coming weekend. I'm excited to hear him speak about this book!
Profile Image for Larry H.
2,440 reviews29.4k followers
May 2, 2016
This book deserved more than 5 stars.

I stayed up until nearly 2:00 a.m. to finish this book and I cannot stop thinking about it. Honestly, I read a good amount of YA fiction, and a lot of it is tremendously well-written and emotionally evocative, but I've not been this blown away by a book since I read Jandy Nelson's I'll Give You the Sun , which made my list of the best books I read in 2014.

Seriously. This one was brutal and absolutely beautiful.

"Sometimes I think gravity may be death in disguise. Other times I think gravity is love, which is why love's only demand is that we fall."

For the last few years, aliens have periodically abducted Henry Denton. As if high school wasn't already difficult to deal with. The aliens don't tell Henry what they want from him or why they've chosen him, but apart from leaving him nearly naked in strange places all over his Florida town, they haven't hurt him too badly.

No one believes Henry's stories, except his boyfriend Jesse. But Jesse recently killed himself, and Henry believes he is to blame, or at least should have seen how badly Jesse was hurting. Everyone else in Henry's life, including his fellow classmates, taunt him and call him "Space Boy," making every day at school a living hell. And his home life isn't much better—his mother works more and more shifts as a waitress while her real dream is to be a chef; his older brother abuses him physically and psychologically nearly every day; and his grandmother, suffering from Alzheimer's, seems to have fewer and fewer lucid moments.

The aliens have given Henry an ultimatum: Earth will be destroyed in 144 days, unless Henry makes the decision to save the world. All he has to do is push a button. But does Henry want to save the world? Is the world really worth saving without Jesse in it?

"Most people probably believe they would have pressed the button in my situation—nobody wants the world to end, right?—but the truth is that nothing is as simple as it seems. Turn on the news; read some blogs. The world is a shit hole, and I have to consider whether it might be better to wipe the slate clean and give the civilization that evolves from the ashes of our bones a chance to get it right."

As the deadline draws closer, Henry searches for evidence that the world is worth saving—in the bully who wants to be with Henry in secret but terrorizes him in public; in Audrey, his former best friend, who used to be an enormous part of his life; in the new student who adds some mystery into Henry's life; and Henry's family members, each dealing with their own struggles. Sure, there are moments when life isn't so bad, but Henry has to decide whether humanity is worth saving or if letting the world end would also end his own emotional anguish.

We Are the Ants is a difficult book to read at times, emotionally. It seems incredible that Henry would allow himself to be treated the way he is by so many people, and that no one would put a stop to it, but the truth is, this type of thing happens more often than not in real life. He is such an incredible character—as are many of the supporting characters—that you root for them to be happy even as you begin to understand that maybe Henry's pain is too much for anyone to bear.

That's not to say that the book is a total downer. There were many moments that made me smile and laugh, and moments that touched my heart and made me even cry good tears (as opposed to the ugly ones I cried at other times). I haven't ever read anything that Shaun David Hutchinson has written before, but after this, rest assured I will. This is such an inventive, moving, beautiful book I feel utterly privileged to have read. I won't soon forget it.

See all of my reviews at http://itseithersadnessoreuphoria.blo....
Profile Image for Kaylin (The Re-Read Queen).
419 reviews1,623 followers
September 22, 2017
4 Stars

“We're not words, Henry, we're people. Words are how others define us, but we can define ourselves any way we choose.”

Dude, that ending messed me up.

Our story revolves around Henry, a teenager with what can only be described as a shitty home life.

So when Henry is given the option of letting the world end, or saving it at the press of a button-- he hesitates.

And the rest of what follows was a glorious expedition of character development, philosophy and profoundly unsettling questions.

Every character was purposeful. Everyone was developed. Every. One. Henry’s jerktastic brother, Charlie. Their grandmother. Charlie’s pregnant girlfriend, Zooey. The school bully, Marcus. Audrey. Deigo. All of the character’s were allowed faults and insecurities, in addition to their personality quirks. They all feel real.

The plot tries to take a look at some harsh realities and holds no punches. There are some really heavy, painful subjects addressed, including: depression, suicide, abuse and homophobia. All this weight had the potential to sink the story, but it’s handled in nuanced ways framed by the complicated characters. Instead, the plot goes along with Henry’s nihilistic and confused outlook, further complicating the moral dilemma.

I also appreciated how this isn’t a case of love-fixes-everything. Diego is an important part of the plot, and a developed character, but meeting him isn’t necessarily what fundamentally changes Henry’s world, like the blurb suggests. Instead, Henry has to determine his own world-view and make his own decision about the save-the-world-button.

Overall, I really enjoyed this and thought it was expertly crafted. I had a few problems with some pacing, and certain points I felt a little redundant-- just teetering this side of melodrama. But this is a really special story, and I don’t know I’ve ever read anything like it.

Failed BR with the always lovely, Alyssa!
Profile Image for Matthew.
1,219 reviews8,682 followers
June 28, 2017
4 to 4.5 stars

While many of the elements of this book are recognizable as common to recent YA novels, there are several unique elements that make this book stand out as different. Overall, a very enthralling book.

Here are some of my thoughts.

- Lots of great and interesting characters. For me, all the people we meet in this story each play a big part in bringing it all together. Also, everyone you meet takes a huge journey from page 1 to page 451
- Maybe a bit heavy on the cynical melodrama; lots of woe-is-me moments. At points it becomes exhausting. However, I think it does end up lending well to the development of the characters and the story (if it doesn't bother you too much on the way).
- Very gritty and real. Now, I am not sure it is realistic, per se, but the events of the story are real and raw. Sometimes books get right to the edge of taking a chance, but don't cross that line, but this book jumps feet first into topics like sexuality, depression, suicide, rape, and others that might be too spoiler-ish to mention.

It was quite a ride and definitely worth reading. It might be too much for some since it does get quite intense. But, if you can and do read it, I think you will find it to be a satisfying and moving experience.
758 reviews2,358 followers
February 7, 2017
This book is so special. At some parts it seems like every other YA contemporary, but then at some parts it's just so much more. Its touching, deep and really makes you feel. I'm so glad I didn't DNF this, which I was very close to doing.

What I loved the most about this book, is that it leaves you thinking and questioning your life. It leaves a mark on you.

This book is about a boy named Henry.
His life is very fucked up.
His boyfriend commit suicide.
His brother is a college dropout who got his girlfriend pregnant.
His dad left him when he was young.
His mom smokes and is trying to keep their broken family together.
He gets bullied, verbally and physically in school.
He is losing his grandmother to Alheizmer's.
Henry needs to act like he's okay, but he's not.
Aliens have abducted Henry and given him the choice to press a button in order to save the world. If he doesn't the world will end.

If I were Henry, experiencing what he is going through, I sure as fuck, wouldn't believe the world is worth saving. That's one of the things I loved most about this book, being able to relate to Henry so much. He is such a realistic character and you feel what he goes through, you understand what he goes through.

I loved reading this book, however, about 40% of this bored me to death and just seemed like every other contemporary. What really stopped me from giving this below 3 stars was the ending. It was worth it and just plain beautiful.

BR with my fellow Wolf lover. who I have betrayed, read ahead and finished.
Profile Image for Lucie.
100 reviews37 followers
July 27, 2020
Henry Denton, a troubled teenage boy, has been abducted by aliens. More precisely, he's been abducted by the same group of aliens multiple times over the span of many years.

But now, things have changed. The aliens have recently given Henry a choice. He can choose to save the world, OR he can watch it all end in just a mere 144 days.

What??!! OH. MY. GOD.

Needless to say, it's a massive responsibility to put on the shoulders of just one high school boy. Is the world even worth saving? Should he just end it all now and save everyone from their misery?

WELL... as I suspected in the beginning, this story is actually about something else. The good news is this was a heartfelt, emotional story with well-developed characters and a great ending.

I just felt misled because this was marketed as a sci-fi book, and it just so happens I was very much in the mood for an engrossing sci-fi read. I simply wasn't expecting what I got. Ah well. I think I'm going to promptly head over to the sci-fi section. 😏
Profile Image for Brithanie Faith.
255 reviews164 followers
May 4, 2018
5/5 stars ⭐⭐⭐⭐⭐


Favorite Quotes:

"As human beings, we’re born believing that we are the apex of creation, that we are invincible, that no problem exists that we cannot solve. But we inevitably die with all our beliefs broken."

"When the days are darkest, dear, you latch on to happiness wherever you find it."

"Dreams are hopeful because they exist as pure possibility. Unlike memories, which are fossils, long dead and buried deep."

"I hated movies and books where people ignored bullets whizzing by their heads and zombies chasing after them so that they could make out, but I finally understood."


-I related to this a fair bit more than I was expecting to. Pretty sure I've never been abducted by aliens, and I've never been close with anyone who has committed suicide, but the stuff Henry's family goes through with his grandmother, and the depression, and the self blame hit close to home for me. I think being able to relate to Henry made me appreciate this novel, and give it the 5 star rating that I did!

-That being said, even though this novel was pretty emotional at times, it was also pretty f*cking hilarious!

-I enjoyed the writing.

-I loved the friendships, and relationships that developed throughout this! 💗


-I don't think I have a single negative thing to say about We Are The Ants!

Final Thoughts:

Could not recommend this book enough! Probably gonna read some more of this authors work in the future! 💗

Profile Image for  jd 지훈.
101 reviews58 followers
October 2, 2020
Note: Content and trigger warnings are written at the end as they may contain spoilers.

"We may not get to choose how we die, but we can choose how we live. The universe may forget us, but it doesn’t matter. Because we are the ants, and we’ll keep marching on."

Calypso, Florida (2015–2016) — The world will end in 144 days. At least, that's what Henry Denton knows based on the ultimatum he was given by the aliens who periodically abduct him. But Henry can prevent this by simply pressing a big red button, only he wasn't sure himself if he wants to, especially if life hasn't really been kind to him. After all, aren't we all just insignificant specks of dust in the universe? We believe that we matter but we really don't—because in reality, we are only so little: for We Are the Ants.

IF THE WORLD IS GONNA END IN 144 DAYS, SHOULD YOU READ THIS BOOK? Man, you definitely fucking should.

So when I saw that my Goodreads and Booktube gods Emily May¹, Kai², Emily Fox, Gabby³, and Lala all rated this five stars, I told myself that I had to fucking read this book as soon as possible. Thank the universe that I did because this novel did what? THAT, my friends. It did that.

Damn, I just can't believe it was so fucking good. What the hell? Am I on earth? The last time I checked, things this good don't exist nor happen here.

Before picking this up, I was actually having a blame game with myself on my inability to finish reading a book as soon as I can, and I was ready to settle with the fact that the blame lies on me until this book slapped me with a big no. "You just need a perfect book to spend your precious time for," Ants whispered on my ear as a gentle reminder.

This book was so compelling that even just by thinking of it, I wanted to continue immersing myself on Henry's world (even if my schedule is that packed because university is being a bitch, as usual). Don't get me wrong, I still love university. Stay in school, kids. Please don't mind my love-hate relationship with university. It be like that sometimes. Lol.

Out in the world, crawling in a field at the edge of some bullshit town with a name like Shoshoni or Medicine Bow, is an ant. You weren’t aware of it. Didn’t know whether it was a soldier, a drone, or the queen. Didn’t care if it was scouting for food to drag back to the nest or building new tunnels for wriggly ant larvae. Until now that ant simply didn’t exist for you. If I hadn’t mentioned it, you would have continued on with your life, pinballing from one tedious task to the next—shoving your tongue into the bacterial minefield of your girlfriend’s mouth, doodling the variations of your combined names on the cover of your notebook—waiting for electronic bits to zoom through the air and tell you that someone was thinking about you. That for one fleeting moment you were the most significant person in someone else’s insignificant life. But whether you knew about it or not, that ant is still out there doing ant things while you wait for the next text message to prove that out of the seven billion self-centered people on this planet, you are important. Your entire sense of self-worth is predicated upon your belief that you matter, that you matter to the universe.

But you don’t.

Because we are the ants.

On a serious note, the level of depth that Hutchinson managed to portray his characters with is immensely astounding. As someone who really appreciates complex, round, and dynamic characters, the characterization and character development in this book earned Ants a special place in my heart's favorites shelf. I can only think of a handful of books whose characters are this raw and intricate, and that shows how exceptional this one is. Don't even get me started with me pitying a bully in some instances because I being masochistic like that is a big no-no. Lmao. But that's how effective the narrative is as he was shown as an actual person who is fucked-up yet still authentic.

The layers of the prose? The complexities of the narrative? The interweaving of the characters' relationships and histories? Just beautiful. Tan hermoso. Napakaganda. 너무 아름다워요.

The use of language though. I'm gobsmacked. Bloody hell. Hutchinson's writing style is evocatively poignant yet geekly enigmatic at the same time. As far as my preferences go, this is the perfect balance of the kind of prose I want to read in a YA novel. Smart yet vulnerable. Humanely warm yet mysteriously cold.

However, I personally think that the main protagonist is the most significant factor why this book is either a hit or miss for the readers. You'll either love him or hate him. Luckily, I related to Henry so much because he is basically my young edgy, witty, and nihilist self which Hutchinson masterfully constructed in this book, making me feel genuinely represented. I may not have undergone all the sad, horrendous things that happened to him but at their core, those events share similarities on my personal history.

Moreover, I never thought that a book can be an accurate representation of the intersection of my two greatest worlds: science and philosophy. This makes the space geek in me squeal and the ever-wandering philosopher in my soul finally have his long-overdue eureka moment.

On a darker note though, this novel hits home on the trauma people have when a loved one dies of suicide alongside the grief that comes with it. As someone who has had suicidal thoughts myself, this book became a great reminder on how my family and my close friends will suffer the moment I stopped meditating, taking care of myself, and listening to my psychiatrist and psychologist—ending up just wallowing to what my mental issues want me to do. It was a hard pill to swallow, but I'd do it for a narrative this poignant and important.

Oftentimes, subjects like these fall into the wrong hands, and such authors make a whole wreckage out of the sensitive issues that need to be discussed with utmost care. There are writers who use angst for angst's sake and include mental illnesses on their narratives but irresponsibly handle them. But I stand here proudly to flex my boy Shaun David Hutchinson for proving that he isn't like any of those authors.

Also, can we talk about how therapy and proper medical assistance were highlighted as essential for the recovery on mental health issues? It means so much to me as someone who was saved and was taken care of by my psychiatrist and therapist. (All The... *coughs* Bright... *coughs* can't relate.)

We are blessed that Hutchinson's talent and wisdom gave these topics justice as they were handled with acute cognizance and sensitivity. This makes this novel and Hutchinson himself really special to me. I just love this book to death.

Now I can safely say that Ants sits there with Aristotle and Dante and I'll Give You The Sun as my gay contemporary holy trinity.

Rep: LGBTQ+ | mental health awareness, equality, acceptance

P.S. Read this while listening to Alec Benjamin, Conan Gray, Keshi, Ruel, and Troye Sivan and you're there for an atmospheric sentimental ride. (Not my music taste revealing how much of a fuck boy I am. Please don't trust me. Lmao.)🤙

Personal Enjoyment: 5 stars
Quality of the Book: 4.9 stars
- Use of Language: ⭐⭐⭐⭐⭐
- Plot and Narrative Arc: ⭐⭐⭐⭐+
- Characters: ⭐⭐⭐⭐⭐
- Integrity: ⭐⭐⭐⭐⭐
- Message: ⭐⭐⭐⭐⭐

AVG: 4.95 stars

- - -
[1] Emily May's insights on the characters and the prose of the novel are worth reading.
[2] Kai's analysis on the subtle messages on the book re: Feminism and Sexuality is on-point and I couldn't agree more.
[3] Gabby's book talk about the novel made my heart full.

- - -
CW/TW: trauma, grief, mentions of suicide, depression, suicidal ideation, homophobia, bullying, physical violence, sexual violence, assault, abuse, miscarriage/stillbirth

- - -
Status Updates:
시작 | 9월30일 (1) | 9월30일 (2) | 9월30일 (3) | 10월1일 (1) | 10월1일 (2) | 10월1일 (3) | 10월1일 (4) | 10월1일 (5) |
Profile Image for Whitney Atkinson.
903 reviews13.7k followers
January 11, 2018
TW: Suicide, self harm (mention), nihilism, severe bullying & physical assault, attempted rape

This book was refreshingly funny and raw—and not the type of male narrative that’s too crude or uncomfortable. However, the more it went on, the more flaws I began to notice.

First of all, I loved Henry's story. It's a mental health plot confined in this weird sci-fi/contemporary hybrid, and even though it's really open-ended, it somehow works. I like the philosophy of "Is the world worth saving?" from the perspective of a depressed teen, and this book is a great reminder of seeing perspective. Although this concept is neat, it isn't entirely new & revolutionary to me. Regardless, Henry's inner turmoil often brought tears to my eyes.

Usually when there’s severe bullying in a YA book I find it just a bit exaggerated because it’s outside my experience, but this hit me so hard. I had to put the book down at certain points to hold back tears and fight through my anger for Marcus and all the other assholes in his school. At one point I was listening to music while reading this and Car Radio came on and I just had to stop and cry. It’s all too much. I wrote this paragraph when I was only 200 pages into the book, though, and I will say that some of the bullying elements did start to straddle the line of being unrealistic. (basically, Henry gets beat up a TON in this book)

It's an emotional and impactful read, and yet there were times that I was ready for it to be done. I have a ~thing~ about YA contemporary books that are over 400 pages, because I just hit a wall and start skim reading parts I don't care about. In this, some dialogue is cliché and some of the characters would have the conversation three or four times in different settings/variations. Some parts to it just felt so randomly fitted in, like entire subplots that hinted at having significance but didn't really wrap up nicely. And that was also a disappointment--the ending is so abrupt.

So although it's a nice story and I thought the sci-fi elements folded into it nicely and created a good metaphor for depression, I felt it lost some of its power in the repetitiveness/length/unoriginality of it. It stands out amongst other contemporaries, but even writing this review I already feel it losing some of its luster that I noticed as I read it.
Profile Image for Aj the Ravenous Reader.
1,005 reviews1,050 followers
March 17, 2017
Maybe 4.5 stars

“We may not get to choose how we die, but we can choose how we live.”

Well that was certainly a different kind of read. It’s familiar and new at the same time. Even though the themes are very common- bullying, mental illness, depression, broken family, search for identity and life’s meaning, all these things were manipulated and twisted into something new when the author brilliantly thought of throwing in the element of science in the story. The premise is actually pretty hilarious. I was laughing really hard at the clever idea. Leave the fate of earthlings in the hands of an angsty teenage boy (who lives a particularly miserable life) when he has been given by the aliens (who regularly abduct him since he was little) two choices: press the red button and the world doesn’t end, do not press it and the world ends. Good luck, world!

Anyone who reads this will tear through the pages if only to find out what Henry chooses in the end and regardless of whether the red button is metaphorical or literal, any reader will just have to know. But honestly, I enjoyed the novel for many other reasons. The writing is impressively natural, insightful, philosophical, and sometimes morbid but a lot of times very funny and relatable. Take a peek:

“It’s comforting to know that regardless of our vast differences and the light-years that separate our worlds, we’ll always have nipples in common.” (lol!)

I particularly enjoyed the chapters where Henry visualizes hundreds of different ways the world could possibly end. It was really impressive how the author managed to come up with a good YA contemporary story diversified by science and very well-developed characters that I often try to put myself in their shoes because they’re that relatable. I wasn’t very keen on this line though “Books are for ugly people.” and on the ending of the story (because somehow, I still want more) but I think it’s still as good as it could get.
Profile Image for Sandeep.
88 reviews54 followers
August 1, 2019
" 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 premise of this book is so misleading - A teenage boy is abducted by aliens and they tell him the world is going to end, but they give him a choice to prevent it by pushing a button. Sounds ridiculous, right? But there is so much more to this book than that, it is not even the central theme of this book. It's a story about discovering your own self, sexuality, parenthood, friendship, family and the ultimate question of 'Is life even worth living?' Honestly, I'm so overwhelmed by this book that I don't even think I can even review this properly. I'm gonna try though.

" Dreams are hopeful because they exist as pure possibility. Unlike memories, which are fossils, long dead and buried deep."

First of all, the character development in this book is one of the best I've seen. The characters have so much depth to them at the end than when they were first introduced in the book. It's utterly brilliant how the author has managed to paint such complex, yet relatable characters, with all their struggles and hardships and yet not making them too monotonous. I love when books explore the relationship of teenagers with their parents, I feel so many books fail to explore this aspect of teenage life. Henry's relationship with his mom, his grandma and his brother is a thing to be adored.

" Sometimes I think gravity may be death in disguise. Other times I think gravity is love, which is why love's only demand is that we fall."

I think I say this a lot, but I love it when the writing style of a book is so captivating. I will take a well-written character driven book over a plot heavy book anyday. This was one of them. The book has so much grief in it and yet the author manages to keep the readers from being overwhelmed by introducing humor into the book. Just in the right amounts, so that it provides a relief from all the heavy themes. This book would be a nightmare for someone who wishes to annotate. There are so many wonderful quotes and passages in this book, so good luck with that!

" Dreams are hopeful because they exist as pure possibility. Unlike memories, which are fossils, long dead and buried deep."

Don't think I sobbed over a book as much I did on this. There is this one moment in the book where the grandma (who is suffering from dementia) burns the Thanksgiving turkey and the the family members are all pissed off. The old woman holding on to her grandson's arm and with tears in her eyes says "I'm sorry, I just wanted to help." I kept the book aside and balled for a good five minutes or so, as I thought of my own grandma, she passed away a couple of years ago and even during her worse days, she always made sure she was helping the people in the family, helping mom with the food and things in general. I didn't even realize halfway through the book, how relatable I found Henry.

" Because you can only die once, but you can suffer forever"

i’m genuinely at a loss for words right now, although I just wrote a lot already, but I feel I can't praise this enough. This book was so much more than I was expecting. It really was introspective and philosophical. It dealt with a lot of heavy topics that i really wasn’t anticipating. I would recommend this book to everyone. Read this book! It is brilliant and you won't regret!

" We remember the past, live in the present, and write the future."
Displaying 1 - 30 of 7,392 reviews

Can't find what you're looking for?

Get help and learn more about the design.