Rating : 8/10
When this book came out (no pun intended!), my Goodreads updates feed was downright flooded with laudatory reviews and updates ! And though I read very little YA or contemporary and even less standalone books, my curiosity was definitely piqued!
And I was pretty conflicted about the book! Throughout my reading I alternated between loving it and hating it, wanting to close it and sleeping late because I couldn’t wait to know more. I know that I loved the end though. It wasn’t the one I was hoping for but finishing the book, I realized that it was the closure I needed.
My palette of emotions while reading this book…
If life were fair, the smartest among us would be the wealthiest and most popular. If life were fair, teachers would make millions, and scientists would be rock stars. If life were fair, we’d all gather around the TV to hear about the latest discovery coming out of CERN rather than to find out which Kardashian is pregnant.
Henry is smart and funny and lucid and very cynical. But most importantly, Henry is a really messed-up and broken kid. Henry is a teenager with a tragic past and a dysfunctional family and who happens to be abducted by aliens every now and then. He has 144 days to press a button and save the world. Except that, Henry is not sure if the world (and more importantly if he) is worth saving.
“I want you to want to press it.”
I don’t think that anyone who hasn’t experienced depression, or seen a loved one sink into it, can fully grasp the extent of the damage it can inflict. And I realized that during this read. I was so frustrated with Henry during may be 90% of the book. I just wanted him to make a stand, to defend himself or at least talk to someone.
I was tired of being the victim, but I didn’t know how to be anything else.
But, as I reached the last pages, I realized that I was judging him while missing that knowledge and by my own standards.And I understood how much it’s hard to fight and how easy it is to withdraw into oneself and only hope that one day, it will get better.
Something I really loved about this book is that it dealt with a lot of important and tragic subjects without filters and without taboo: suicide, Alzheimer, abuse, drugs but most importantly harassment at school. I’m profoundly distressed when I see how little is done today to prevent this plague and help the kids who suffer from it and who can go as far as ending their life to escape from it. We Are the Ants beautifully and masterfully conveyed the idea that it must be a collective responsibility shared by both the family and the school staff.
Anyway, despite a lot of depressingly harsh and brutal parts and despite a lot of repetition, retrospectively, I realize that I loved this book. There was an undeniable crude beauty and sincerity to it. I can’t say that I enjoyed it because it’s no light read. But I loved reflecting on the weighty matters presented in it.
Review by Haïfa.
Read in October, 2016.