Author: AS King (@AS_King)
Published: January 2011
Genre: YA contemporary (?)
POV: 1st person, male
Publisher: Litte, Brown BYR
Format: Paperback; Audiobook
Rating: The Royal Library, Top Shelf
Lucky Linderman didn't ask for his life. He didn't ask his grandfather not to come home from the Vietnam War. He didn't ask for a father who never got over it. He didn't ask for a mother who keeps pretending their dysfunctional family is fine. And he didn't ask to be the target of Nader McMillan's relentless bullying, which has finally gone too far.
But Lucky has a secret--one that helps him wade through the mundane torture of his life. In his dreams, Lucky escapes to the war-ridden jungles of Laos--the prison his grandfather couldn't escape--where Lucky can be a real man, an adventurer, and a hero. It's dangerous and wild, and it's a place where his life just might be worth living. But how long can Lucky keep hiding in his dreams before reality forces its way inside?
Michael L. Printz Honor recipient A.S. King's smart, funny and boldly original writing shines in this powerful novel about learning to cope with the shrapnel life throws at you--and taking a stand against it.
Lucky Linderman is anything but lucky and his life is a complicated mess: he's constantly bullied by Nader McMillan, his father wants him to ignore it, his mother wants his father to do something, everyone assumes Lucky wants to die after his suicide questionnaire for school, and Lucky keeps dreaming of saving his MIA grandfather in Laos – and he's even bringing objects from these odd dreams back with him to the real world. So, in all, his life is odd and challenging, and lately, Lucky's life is only becoming even more complicated.
This was my first A.S. King novel, and I'm glad I started with this story. There are some books you read, thoroughly enjoy, and find yourself thinking about them long after you finish. Everybody Sees the Ants is one of those books for me. A story both peculiar and familiar, Lucky is a boy many of us can probably relate to at one point or another in our lives. His story is odd, but it delves into areas we all struggle with: bullying, dysfunctional families, appearances, and the list goes on. This is the type of story you can either dive into with a splash or tentatively wade in, slowly soak up the words, and ultimately emerge feeling like you've really read something special. Honest, emotionally gripping, and unusual, Everybody Sees the Ants is a story that took me by surprise, but it was exactly what I needed to read.
Highlights: This story is smart, and it causes you to question both yourself and the story itself. Is Lucky out of touch with reality, or are his dreams and the every-amusing ants real? From symbolism to themes, this book gives readers so much to consider but doesn't demand anything from readers except their attention. There is a lot to ponder in this novel, if you want to think more deeply, and I enjoyed that aspect very much. Despite the magical realism, this story and Lucky felt genuine and honest. Lucky's mom was a favorite of mine, and I loved how she tried so much to help Lucky. I feel like I can't ever fully explain the highlights of this story – for me, it's all a highlight.
Lowlights: Nothing. I loved this book. Lucky's father bothered me, but he's still a realistic, if incredibly frustrating, character.
Audiobook: I listened to the first part of this novel as an audiobook (checked out from the library, and unfortunately, I did not finish it before my time was up), and loved every bit I managed to hear. Kirby Heyborne brought Lucky to life, and expertly tackled the story with the right tone, ranging from serious to sarcastic. I'll hopefully get the chance to hear the audiobook in its entirety some day in the future.
Rating: The Royal Library, Top Shelf (5 out of 5). I love Everybody Sees the Ants, so this book is going on the top shelves in the royal library where everyone can see it. I'd highly recommend this book, because it is an incredible story.