Monday, July 25, 2016

Recently Read: We are the Ants

Author: Shaun David Hutchinson
Genre: Young Adult- Magical Realism
Publication Date: 2016
Page Count: 455
Rating: 5/5

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Henry has every reason to wish for the end of the world. His boyfriend killed himself, he no longer speaks to his best friend because of it, he hates school and the bullies, and to top it all off, his dad left the family and Henry blames it on himself. But when Henry is abducted by aliens and told he is the only one that can prevent the end of the world, Henry must decide if he thinks the world is worth saving. 

I devoured this book. I read all 450 pages in two sittings. I knew I loved Henry's narrative voice within the first two pages. Henry is smart and angsty, everything I want in a YA narrator. I thought all of the characters, even the minor side characters, were really well developed and Henry's world felt so real to me. I am a big fan of magical realism and I thought the magical element within this novel of the aliens was perfectly done and unique.  

There is a lot of hard stuff in this book. Henry's life is not a piece of cake and I felt for him. I wanted to reach out to him and offer encouragement. His journey and thought processes felt so real and authentic. I loved the way the relationships developed and changed. I don't want to say too much because I don't want to give anything away, but this book did a great job of portraying how difficult it is to see beyond your individual self to the rest of the world when you are young. I thought the end was perfect as it left a lot up to the reader to decide. This book was entertaining and very impactful. It makes a beautiful but brutal statement about life and the world we live in. 

One of my favorite things about this novel was that Henry is gay, but this novel has nothing to do with him coming out. While I also enjoy novels about gay characters expressing their true selves to their friends and families and think they are absolutely important, that should not be the only way gay characters exist in YA. Henry is gay and his family and friends already know, that is a part of him and a part of the story of course, but it is not the whole story. 

I'm usually not a huge fan of YA contemporary so I have found magical realism to be that added element that really helps me get into contemporary. If you have any recommendations, please let me know. If you are new to magical realism, this would be a lovely place to start as the characters and contemporary issues are very strong and well done, and the magical element is the icing on the cake. The romance in this novel is very well written, (romance is the element of contemporaries that make me hesitant to read them) and I really enjoyed the development and honesty of all of the relationships in the novel. This is a book I can see myself rereading in the future and enjoying it just as much as I did the first time, if not more. 

Let me know if you have any YA contemporary or magical realism suggestions in the comments!

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