A Time Best YA Book of All Time (2021)
From the “author to watch” (Kirkus Reviews) of The Five Stages of Andrew Brawley comes an “equal parts sarcastic and profound” (Kirkus Reviews, starred review) novel about a teenage boy who must decide whether or not the world is worth saving.
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.
Henry Denton's life is in tatters he 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 up.
The ending was not expected but it’s still a great book.
I am not usually one for science fiction or anything related to aliens. But this book was extremely captivating in a way that i haven’t felt in a while! It was so raw and heart wrenching and really made you feel something! I’d read it a thousand more times! and the LGBT+ representation was amazing as well!
We are the ants
This is the best book you will read in your entire life. I have never thought about a book as long as I have thought about this one. Two months after the first time I read it and it still kept me up at night. I went and bought a paper copy too. Everything Shaun David Hutchinson writes is incredible but this one is my favorite and no other book has ever come close. The characters are so complex and well-thought-out, the atmosphere and setting are so well described without ever having Hemingway-style paragraphs of description, the plot is interesting and metaphorical, but actually metaphorical, not 8th grade english class terrible book terrible teacher metaphorical, and it makes you think so much. It creates this whole insanely depressing world around the main character without ever falling into the pit of dark and broody and I cannot recommend this book enough. Just read it. Just do it. You will never ever read a book as incredible as this one again.