Henry Denton is the unpopular kid in school known as “space boy” because he’s constantly abducted by aliens. When the aliens give him a chance to save the world by pressing a button, he’s torn on what to do, but really, he’s leaning toward letting the world die.
CW: Homomisia, bimisia, ableism, racism, abuse, assault, miscarriages, suicide, self-harm, bullying, amisia, rape
The story was cute, unique, quite deep. It read in a more literary fashion and had a strong narrative voice. It was unnecessarily long-winded and tried to be a bit “edgier” than necessary. Also, there was some fun diversity, and then some stuff that was handled not so well. Overall, though, a fine, mostly contemporary read with some interesting turns, a very somber mood, and lots of introspection.
Long Review: Warning – May Contain Spoilers
Henry’s voice is strong throughout the whole story, and to be honest, it’s a voice I relate to. Henry is heavily depressed. His boyfriend (who was one of like three people who actually cared about him) committed suicide, and now he’s left to navigate this strange world without him. All in all, Henry is a cynical, condescending asshole, and I really connected to that (particularly from my high school days).
The characters were interesting and they all felt real. None of them were really great people, but they all held a lot of humanity.
There were also a lot of things handled well in terms of diversity. We had a realistic portrayal of Alzheimer’s, depression, and suicide. We had a girl baby getting a blue bedroom. We had two characters asking each other for consent before engaging in sexual activity. All of these were refreshing and much needed in YA.
The ending is vague and leaves a lot of stuff unanswered, and while I know most people hate this, I actually really liked how it was handled. I know a story did well if it makes me not care that my questions are unanswered.
The story was way too long. This whole book could have been condensed into a hundred pages shorter and it would have had everything you needed. There was also a lot of repetition, particularly involving Henry’s thoughts about Jesse. Yes, it makes sense for him to be constantly thinking about Jesse and contemplating the reasons behind his suicide, but it really wasn’t the sort of thing that needed its own scene five+ times throughout the book. Because these scenes had next to no action, we find ourselves just drowning in Henry’s guilt, which really made the story drag.
This story was particularly hard to read because for everything it did well, it did something else poorly. We’ve got stuff ranging from casual ableism to the “repressed gay is a bullying asshole” trope to an unnecessary rape/sexual assault scene. This book is ownvoices for gay rep, so the exploration of this trope was within the author’s lane, but it’s one of those tropes that honestly just rubs me wrong.
We also have things like bimisia and fatmisia, which can be justified when considering the nature of the MC (a condescending asshole), but the amount of ists and isms and other problematic content throughout the story starts to weigh on you, and I had to question a few times whether the author did them on purpose or if he just got lucky. The nature of the content wasn’t enough to discredit the rest of the book, but it was enough to make me rather uncomfortable while reading it.
It took me a while to get through this one, but overall, I did enjoy it. There were a lot of interesting takes in here and I did feel represented by some of the rep. Be careful going into this one, though. Don’t take the content warnings lightly, and while I’ll probably read for from Hutchinson, I admit I’ll be a little on edge to see how he handles his content in the future.