“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.”
Title: We Are the Ants
Author: Shaun David Hutchinson
Why you should read this book: Because this is one of the most beautiful and moving books I’ve ever read and the world needs to know it.
Summary from Goodreads:
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.
“We remember the past, live in the present, and write the future.”
This book deserves a rating of 144 stars. 144 like the remaining days our main character, Henry, has to decide whether he wants to push the button or not to save the whole world. This book is important. This book is not about aliens; this book is about life and all the collateral effect it causes. The author digs into emotions, into hard themes that, willing or not, surround us every single day. Maybe you are not aware of them, but trust me, they are there, very present in your life.
Despite what you’ve spent your entire life believing, you are not a special snowflake. Somewhere out there, another you is living your life. Chances are, they’re living it better.
Henry Denton has problems. The first time he’s been abducted by aliens he was 13 years old. They have abducted him several times, doing experiments on him then leaving him far from home naked or only in his underwear. Now it seems they are going to blow up the Earth and they are giving Henry the power to choose if it happens or not. A big red button: pressing it means the world is save. Guess what Henry’s going to do? He doesn’t want to press it. He hates the world, a world where his mother is struggling with money, his father abandoned them, people are making school a living hell and his boyfriend committed suicide the year before without leaving a note explaining why.
“What if I don’t give a shit about the world?”
“I’d say that’s pretty fucking sad.”
“Because the world is so beautiful.”
Henry is bullied at school; they call him Space Boy because they know about the abductions. High school boys are cruel in a way that always leaves me perplexed. I can’t seem to understand where all that cruelty comes from, why they seem to gain popularity by doing awful things to their weaker school mates. Henry is weak because the ghost of Jesse, his now dead boyfriend, hunts him. He thinks it’s his fault because he didn’t see the signs, he didn’t realize his own boyfriend needed help and was thinking about hurting himself. This situation makes him weak and an easy prey to bullies and it makes his life at home harder that how it already is. But nothing is an excuse for bullying. If Henry went to school dressed as an alien, you don’t have the right to bully him, NOT A SINGLE RIGHT! No excuses whatsoever! Let’s put an end to this nonsense!
Maybe love doesn’t require falling after all. Maybe it only requires that you choose to be in it.
One day he meets Diego, a newly transferred student from Colorado with a secret past we later found out about. It left me speechless but I didn’t blame him. How could I blame someone for doing what I was thinking of doing in his situation but I’d always be too scared to do? Henry meets Diego and it puts his life in perspective. Henry starts seeing other faces of the dice that is the life he thinks he knows. Diego will make Henry question his decision to not push the button and let the world end. But Diego can’t and won’t make that decision for him; Henry has to want to push the button or else it’ll be pointless. Henry needs help and someone needs to see it before it’s too late.
“Depression isn’t a war you win. It’s a battle you fight every day. You never stop, never get to rest.”
I struggled with Henry because I felt his pain, his indecisions. I am an over thinker like him and that leads me to a lot of anxiety filled scenarios. Henry doesn’t like people hiding things from him; all of this because of what happened to Jesse. He decided to believe his lies and not ask for explanations and that resulted in his suicide. Henry can’t let something like that happen again. He won’t be responsible for someone else’s death. The pressure of life is too much and he can’t bear it. We will never know why Jesse took his own life and knowing it won’t change the fact that he is already gone. The grief will accompany them forever, memories will be cherished but life has to continue, it’s the ugly truth: we may need a break from life, but life doesn’t stop for us. Don’t let that overwhelm you, go at your own pace like I do.
I’d let myself believe the lies because it was easier than digging for the truth.
He won’t allow himself to have feelings for Diego. Diego is hiding his past from him and Henry is still pretty lost in the memory of Jesse, feeling that he’ll be cheating him if he starts liking someone else. More importantly, with the world ending, what’s the point? What’s the point of everything? Nothing really matters. Not for Henry. With the end of the world he will free his Grandma from her Alzheimer consuming her, his mother from the money problems, his brother from bringing to this awful world another human being; and he will be free from bullies calling him Space Boy and from the grief from losing Jesse that is eating him alive. But maybe you don’t have to save the world or end it, for the sake of others. Maybe you have to be a little selfish and make that decision for yourself.
“There’s an amazing world out there for you to discover, Henry Denton, but you have to be willing to discover yourself first.”
I love Henry. I want to hug him and help him in his road to be better, to accept and move on. To have a life filled with difficult situations but knowing there are people out there to help you, that you are not alone in this. I love Henry. I love how he changes throughout the book, the more the day of the end of the world approaches, the more he doubts what he believed in the beginning. And that’s perfect. I think we have to question what happens to us but being careful about not over thinking because that leads to an infinite loop of fear from which is not easy to get out. I know that loop all too well, I hate that loop. But I love Henry. I love him very much.
People wait for the countdown to tell them that it’s okay to believe in themselves again. They end each year with failure, but hope that when the clock strikes twelve, they can begin the new year with a clean slate. They tell themselves that this year things will happen, never realizing that things are always happening; they’re just happening without them.
So I as said, this book is not about aliens. I still have my doubts about said aliens but that’s ok, I don’t need to know. This book is about all of us. This story is filled with emotions, raw and deep and hard. The world is an ugly place and we have to find a way to live in it. Whether we want to fight for what’s right, or live quietly far from chaos, the world is ours, is a big community and it’s an ugly one. So many bad things keep happening, and if you think about it for a bit you just come to the conclusion that IT SIMPLY DOESN’T MAKE A FREAKING SENSE!!
“When the days are darkest, dear, you latch on the happiness wherever you find it.”
We have to choose what to fight for, we have to look for small personal victories, at home, at work, at school and the bravest of us, will look for large scale victories and we are going to support them because we are in this together.
We aren’t going to give up on the world just because we are sure things aren’t going to end well.
“So, when you’re offered bacon for breakfast, do you refuse because you’re worried about what’s going to happen when it’s gone?”
If I knew the world was going to end and I was given the possibility to stop the end from happening by pressing a button, would I press it?
I guess you will never know ;D
Do I recommend it? Yes, and read it soon, it’s really worth it.
☆: It made my “favourite books” list