We Are the Ants
by Shaun David Hutchinson
read in February 2017
“I could write my name across the sky, and it would be in invisible ink.”
I knew I was going to love We Are the Ants before I had even picked it up and I am so glad it didn’t disappoint! I’ll probably order Hutchinson’s other books right away!
Before you read this novel though, I have to warn you: it’s heavy. This book deals with suicide, depression, bullying, sexual assault, etc. It was very intense. Sometimes, I had to put it down for minutes or longer because it became too much.
As usual, I find it hard to express what I loved about this. Honestly, I find it much easier to write reviews for books I didn’t enjoy! Anyway, I thought We Are the Ants was -except for the aliens- very relatable: the family dynamics (as messed up as they may seem), the mental illness…
Every single character is flawed and as realistic as that is, I tend to dislike characters who aren’t likeable. That’s not the case in We Are the Ants though! I cared about most of the characters, especially Henry, Diego, Audrey and Zooey.
I absolutely hated Marcus though. I know about internalized homophobia, but that doesn’t excuse the things Marcus did, in my opinion. At times, it even seemed Henry was more forgiving of him than of Diego and Audrey!
As much as I loved this, this book wasn’t flawless (is anything though?). Like I’ve said, We Are the Ants can be very triggering and in my opinion, it erases bisexuality. When a character mentions he has an ex-girlfriend, Henry thinks he can’t possibly be into him, because he assumes he is straight. Later on in the book, the character says the following:
“I like people, not the parts they have. Well, I mean, I definitely like the parts, they’re just not why I like the person.”
First of all, I don’t like the idea of sexual orientations being linked to genitalia. That is transphobic. Second of all, that explanation wasn’t necessary at all if he had just had the character say something along the lines of “I’m bi/pansexual”.
I’ve read a lot of contemporaries lately that feature rape attempts/sexual assaults. While I do think it’s important to discuss that topic, I think it is often used for shock value instead. Of course I am happy that Henry told the police someone attempted to rape him, but the author didn’t discuss this very heavy topic any further.
Towards the end, the on-again/off-again relationships started to drag on for me. Though I understood the characters’ reasons, I wanted them to make up their minds already!
conclusion: Damn, I’m sorry this review is so shitty. Apparently, I’m not used to writing positive reviews! I absolutely devoured We Are the Ants and I will surely read this again someday. Though this book deals with some heavy topics, it also made me laugh and cry happy tears.