August 11, 2021 7:34 AM EDT

In Shaun David Hutchinson’s wry and sly coming-of-age novel, We Are the Ants, published in 2016, the fate of the world literally rests in the hands of Henry Denton. Henry is a smart, sardonic high-school student who is given an ultimatum by extraterrestrials: save earth and its inhabitants by merely pressing a large red button—or let everyone perish. Though the decision to rescue humankind may seem like a no-brainer, for Henry, there’s some major trepidation. Relentlessly bullied at school, dealing with complicated family issues and still processing his grief from the suicide of his boyfriend the year before, Henry isn’t quite sure if the world is worth saving. By considering Henry’s existential dread with the highest stakes possible, Hutchinson rewrites the teenage angst narrative with warmth and humor for a read that’s truly memorable. —Cady Lang

Buy Now: We Are the Ants on Bookshop | Amazon

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