by Abigail Fellin
“The universe may forget about us, but it doesn’t matter. Because we are the ants, and we’ll keep marching on.”
If aliens gave you the chance to save the world that took your boyfriend away from you, would you do it? This is the question Henry Denton faces in the young adult novel We Are the Ants by Shaun David Hutchinson (2016). The sluggers, or aliens, have been abducting Henry since he was thirteen and he doesn’t know why. He doesn’t know why his grandmother is losing her mind to Alzheimer’s, or why his brother is deciding being a college drop out with a pregnant girlfriend is a good idea. He doesn’t understand why his boyfriend committed suicide. What he does know is that the aliens have given him 144 days to decide whether or not to save the world from impending doom. Henry is set on a path until he meets Diego Vega, an artist with a mysterious past who leads Henry to question what really matters.
This stunning novel delves into the complex mind of teenagers as they deal with issues such as depression, bullying, sexual orientation, and loss. Hutchinson beautifully crafts complex characters that capture your heart. His poetic lines, such as “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” are the diamonds sprinkled in this treasure trove of a novel.
We Are the Ants originally interested me due to its promise to look at topics such as suicide and sexual orientation. I’m always looking for young adult novels that accurately portray mental illness since I think it is important to have healthy representations of these issues for young adults. The sci-fi angle originally was a put off for me, however, the unique way Hutchinson weaves science and aliens into the story only added to my love for this book. Overall, We Are the Ants is a great novel for young adults due to the topics it looks into, the interesting and complex characters, and the beautifully crafted lines. Not only will this book play with your heart strings, but it will cause you to ponder big world questions.