cover image We Are the Ants

We Are the Ants

Shaun David Hutchinson. S&S/Simon Pulse, $17.99 (464p) ISBN 978-1-4814-4963-2

Henry Denton's life is in tatters%E2%80%94he was abandoned by his father; his boyfriend, Jesse, hanged himself; and he is regularly abducted by aliens who have put Earth's very fate in his hands. The 16-year-old, nicknamed "Space Boy" by his tormentors, is self-destructing until he finds a friend in new kid Diego and an ally in Jesse's former pal Audrey. In a style reminiscent of Slaughterhouse-Five, Hutchinson (The Five Stages of Andrew Brawley) intersperses Henry's experience aboard the "slugger" spaceship with his trials on Earth, where he's "a punch line at school, a ghost at home." The extraterrestrial scenes are less the makings of a SF novel than a metaphor for Henry's isolation and alienation from his family and peers, including a gang of bullies who brutally assault him in a shower and then publicly shame him. Hutchinson has crafted an unflinching portrait of the pain and confusion of young love and loss, thoughtfully exploring topics like dementia, abuse, sexuality, and suicide as they entwine with the messy work of growing up. Ages 14%E2%80%93up. Agent: Amy Boggs, Donald Maass Literary Agency. (Jan.)