Published by Simon and Schuster on January 19th 2016
Genres: Science Fiction, Young Adult
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Henry Denton has spent years being periodically abducted by aliens. Then the aliens give him an ultimatum: The world will end in 144 days, and all Henry has to do to stop it is push a big red button.
Only he isn’t sure he wants to.
After all, life hasn’t been great for Henry. His mom is a struggling waitress held together by a thin layer of cigarette smoke. His brother is a jobless dropout who just knocked someone up. His grandmother is slowly losing herself to Alzheimer’s. And Henry is still dealing with the grief of his boyfriend’s suicide last year.
Wiping the slate clean sounds like a pretty good choice to him.
But Henry is a scientist first, and facing the question thoroughly and logically, he begins to look for pros and cons: in the bully who is his perpetual one-night stand, in the best friend who betrayed him, in the brilliant and mysterious boy who walked into the wrong class. Weighing the pain and the joy that surrounds him, Henry is left with the ultimate choice: push the button and save the planet and everyone on it…or let the world—and his pain—be destroyed forever.
Your entire sense of self-worth is predicated upon your belief that you matter, that you matter to the universe.
But you don’t.
Because we are the ants.
My first 5 teacups of 2016!
This book. Seriously. I hadn’t read any of the author’s other work. I wasn’t even sure that the premise promised a book I would like. My curiosity was piqued when I saw the good critical reviews it was getting, but that has meant little in the past so I wasn’t completely convinced…
But it was so damn good. The truth is, while I always wait for the end before deciding on a book rating, most of the time there’s a little part of me that just knows near the beginning when I’ve picked up a 5-star book. It’s a book that does something a bit different, and it has a pull you know will drag you through those pages.
Henry Denton’s narrative is so compelling, nihilistic and hilarious. He’s a smart, witty and very funny human being, prone to one tragic misfortune after another. The way he portrays and explores the world around him is excellent, showing us intricate family bonds, friendships, love and all the wonder and horror of the world we live in.
The book opens with Henry telling us about the aliens. The aliens who have abducted him several times, conducted experiments on him, and finally given him the ultimate choice. The world is going to end, but pushing a button will stop it – will Henry find reason to save the world?
In the wrong hands, it could have been unbearably cheesy, but the tone is just right. Dark, but often comical. Sad, but full of heart-warming moments too.
The description gives the impression that Henry meets Diego and his perspective on life changes, but it’s far more complex than that. This book is not a romance, and so many characters have an important part to play in the telling of the story: Henry’s ex-boyfriend who committed suicide, his alcoholic wannabe-chef mother, the popular boy who makes out with him one minute and bullies him the next, his grandmother with Alzheimer’s, his college-dropout brother, as well as others.
All the characters are so well-developed, all are complex, none are throwaway. Hutchinson weaves relationships gradually, throughout the novel, showing all the layers that exist underneath the surface and – ultimately – showing that every person has more than one side, is more than one thing.
It’s the kind of truly smart and insightful book that doesn’t come along too often. And it left my mind spinning with thoughts long after I finished the last page.