“If you knew the world was going to end but you could prevent it, would you?” This is the question that gets asked over and over again throughout we are the ants by Shaun David Hutchinson. If you had a chance to end life on our planet, would you? What would make you save the world? What would make you think that the world deserved to be destroyed? Do you get to make the decision based off your own life only? Should you take into account all the lives you would be affecting? This was an interesting read that didn’t seem like it would make you think, but ends up sitting in your head long after you finished the last sentence.
Henry is teenager, just trying to make it from one day to the next. His life is not one many would envy. His brother is constantly bullying him, his grandmother is falling further and further into dementia, his mother works as a waitress to barely keep them afloat, his father left them a long time ago and his boyfriend committed suicide about a year before the story starts. His life is a constant battle to find something worth living for.
For a while before the story stared Henry had been getting abducted by aliens. They never truly commincatue with him. They abduct him, do tests and then let him go. Everyone at school thinks him crazy, as does his family. The story starts right after he has been abducted and given a choice: he can either press the button they present him with and save the world or he can not press it and end the world. He is given until January 29th, 2016, 143 days, to make his choice.
We follow Henry as his strives to make his decision, to save the world or to let it burn. The part I liked most about this story was that as I read through I kept changing my mind whether I wanted him to push the button or not. At first I didn’t blame him for wanting to be done with this world, his life was not fun. He had little going for him, I understood why he wanted to give up.
As the story progressed and he rekindled an old friendship and found a new love interest I found myself wanting him to want to live. Though events kept changing that. Just as things started to work out, a wall came down and threw him backward. I liked that I didn’t know what I wanted him to do. I didn’t make a decision at the beginning and stick with it. I was like Henry, going back and forth between the options trying to determine what mattered and what didn’t.
One of the main themes of this book was the idea of finding a balance between the past, present and future. Henry is someone who is stuck in the past. He can’t get over his boyfriend’s suicide. He has no answer and that bothers him. He is also stuck on his fahter leaving and yet again having no reason for that event. He is someone who stays stuck in what happened and obsesses over what he can’t change. When he is given his option of the saving the world he can’t think of saving it at first because he can’t envision any future. The future is impossible for him.
On the other hand is Diego, someone who comes into Henry’s life. Diego is the opposite of Henry, he is obsessed with the future. Diego refuses to look at the past. It is over and done with and he can’t change it. He won’t acknowledge it, to either accept or deny it.
What everyone has to learn is that a balance is needed. You can’t forget the past. It teaches us things and reminds of what has happened before. We need the past in order to have a future. You also can’t fully live in the future because you then live in a kind of fantasy world. You are always waiting for something to happen. You have to live in the present, learn from the past and anticipate the future.
This was a book that was much more than I expected. I thought it was going to be a more fun book about someone dealing with aliens and what they wanted. What is was, was a deep story about finding a reason to live; and not just for Henry, but for everyone in his life. Every character was deep and could hold the story on their own. I enjoyed that the story was much deeper than I anticipated when I started it.
According to my Goodreads reading challenge I read 36 books this year! I know that there was at least one book that I did not finish though and I did reread the first and second Harry Potter books because I got the illustrated versions. Most of the books I read this year I really loved. I wrote review for many of them which I will include links to when possible.
I love when I spend the year reading books that I adore. I found some new authors that I will be following and reading their new material. I started some new series which I am excited to finish!
Take a look back with me on some of my favorite books of the year!
We will start with V.E. Schwab, who has become my new favorite author. I read the first two books in her Shades of Magic series. I wrote a review for A Darker Shade of Magic. The third and final book should be coming out in February and I am excited to see how the series ends!
I then read This Savage Song ,which i received in a book subscription box. I was thrilled to see it in the box because I had been wanting it for so long. It was a great story about the difference between good and evil and what makes someone a “monster.” My review on it has more of my thoughts. The second one comes out in June and I can’t wait!
I recently finished Vicious. It was probably my least favorite of the four but I still really enjoyed it. I love the way she looks at what it means to be good and bad and if there is a true distinction between the two concepts.
I read the Lunar Chronicles by Marissa Meyer really quick. It was a great ride. I loved the fresh ways of viewing the fairytale characters. I hope to be able to read Heartless sometime this new year. I wrote a review for Cinder which you can find here.
I also fell in love with the Six of Crows series. This was another one that I got lost in. I loved the characters, they were all unique and felt alive. The story was fast-paced and full of adventure. I wrote a review for the series as a whole which you can find here.
To round out the series I read is Miss Peregrine’s Home for Peculiar Children. This was another fun one. I liked the take on time loops, the characters were all fun and interesting and the story kept me turning pages for three books without an issue. I did a review for each of the books which you can find here, here and here.
Now for some individual books. I read More Happy Than Not by Adam Silvera after seeing a review for it. It was one of those books that left me in shock and emotional at the end. It so well written and heart breaking. Few things get me choked up but this one was of them.
We are the ants by Shaun David Huchtinson was just a book I found in passing. It so much more than I thought it was going to be. I fell in love with it quickly. It a good look at why you would want to keep the world around even when it is breaking your heart. I will be adding a review for this one soon.
I technically think I started this one before 2016 but I finished it in 2016 so it counts. This one falls outside my usual genre. If you can’t tell fantasy is the genre I usually read in. Heart-Shaped Box by Joe Hill was a horror book and I was enthralled by it. It was scary yet interesting at the same time. I don’t usually enjoy horror but I did really enjoy this one. You can find my review here.
I know this one probably isn’t landing on many favorites’ lists this year. There are issues with it, and I go into my depth about them in my review here. But I loved this despite the issues. I loved being transported back to the Harry Potter universe and I loved the addition of Scorpious. This was a fun ride and one I did love reading.
So those are just some of my favorites from this year. What did you read in 2016? Did you enjoy the majority? What are some of your favorites?
I haven’t done one of these in awhile. What are you reading Wednesday is a feature over on It’s a Reading Thing. Pretty simple to take part. Find the book you are currently reading and answer the following questions.
1.) What are you currently reading? – we are the ants by Shaun David Hutchinson
2.) Got to page 34 or 33% in your e-book and share a couple of sentences:
“It begins with excitement. The date is 24 January 2016, Frieda Eichman of Grunstradt is the first to identify the astroid, using the telescope her father gave her for her thirteenth birthday. He’s been dead these last twenty years, but he would have been proud.”
3.)Would you live in the world that exists in the book? Why or why not?
The world is actually our world. Henry is given the option to destroy or save the world. I am already technically living in this world. But if I had to choose to live in Henry’s life I would not choose not to. His life is very rough and I am not sure I could handle that much pain and grief. I honestly wouldn’t blame him at this point for destroying the world.
What are you currently reading?
My birthday was in November and I got a few gift cards to Barnes and Noble, which means I got a nice amount of new books! Now, I have zero self-control when it comes to book shopping. I wanted to try to only spend the gift cards but that didn’t happen. I just get absorbed into the shelves and find myself with a pile of books in my arms before too long. Here are the books I will be adding to my shelves.
Vicious – V.E. Schwab – This is the one I am currently reading. I have read V.E. Schwab’s Shades of Magic series and loved it. I also loved This Savage Song. I’ve heard great things about her first book and I was eager to get my hands on it. I am about 3/4 of the way through it and I am loving it! I will have a review up once I finish it.
The Magicians – Lev Grossman – I know this series just became a tv series but I had heard about it in passing before that. This is just one that I see on recommendation lists periodically and I have always been slightly intrigued. I may start reading this after Christmas because it is part of a series and I need to stall my spending until after my bank account recovered from Christmas and if I like the first book in a series I have to continue with the series. I can’t just read the first book and then other books in between. I have to read what I can of a series all at once.
The Rest of Us Just Live Here – Patrick Ness– This concept of this one intrigued me. It is about all the other characters in the adventure stories that aren’t the “Chosen One.” It seems interesting and a fun read.
Ink and Bone – Rachel Caine – I have no idea where I first heard of this one but the story concept grabbed me right away. It is about a time when The Great Library of Alexandria is still around. It controls all knowledge and the owning of books is illegal (one of my nightmares). It is about a boy trying to take this organization down. I love the idea but it is another one that is part of a series so that may end up on the back of my reading list until after Christmas.
We Are the Ants – Shaun David Hutchinson – This is another one that I can’t quite remember where I heard about it. It is about a boy who is given the chance to either destroy the planet or save it. It is up to him to determine if the world and his life are worth saving. I thought it sounded like one that will make me think as I read it. I love books that make me question and put me in moral dilemmas so this should be an interesting read.
The View from the Cheap Seats – Selected Nonfiction – Neil Gaiman – This one my mom actually found while we were wandering around the bookstore. Neil Gaiman is one of my favorite authors and this book has a number of his essays on a range of topics. This is the only nonfiction book I bought but I am hoping it gives me some inspiration or at least lets me learn more about one of my favorite authors.
Genius: The Game – Leopoldo Gout – This one I saw on the shelf and was instantly attracted to it. The cover pulled me in. It has a pretty simple summary, a number of geniuses are brought together to play a game that will have world wide effects. I like the idea of a mind game. Not sure what to expect from this one but I am excited to read it.
So these are some of my new books. Have you read any of these? If so what do you think of them? Have you bought any new books recently?