Shelf Awareness: Shaun David Hutchinson’s bracingly smart and unusual YA novel blends existential despair with exploding planets.
We Are the Ants deals with loss, and it doesn’t pull any punches. There are no easy solutions, and the book is refreshingly upfront about the fact that some kinds of pain–like Henry grieving his boyfriend’s suicide, his father’s absence and his grandmother’s Alzheimer’s–just have to be slogged through. However, Ants is not depressing. It’s wonderfully written, and humor is woven throughout, including an aside on the uselessness of alien nipples. Henry is gay, but there’s no angst over that at home. His family is completely fine with it, even his macho, difficult brother. The novel is occasionally brutal–the opening line is “Life is bullsh*t”–but Henry is a thoughtful and compassionate protagonist. As the threads of the story come together, he slowly starts to realize how many people in his life care about him. He may even consider the possibility of caring about himself.