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review: Everybody Sees the Ants by A.S. King

Written By: Word Nerd - Mar• 28•13

Everybody Sees AntsEverybody Sees the Ants

A.S. King

Little, Brown Books for Young Readers/YA

Release Date: October 3, 2011

Lucky Linderman didn’t ask for his life. He didn’t ask for 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 daily 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?

This book was picked up in my search to find a book comparable to John Green’s The Fault in Our Stars.  (More about that later…)

This book is odd.  Lucky is an unreliable narrator and it takes some time to sort his fantasy from reality.  That said, Lucky is a real, living, breathing character that jumps off the page.  From the very first page, you can see him and you can feel the emotional ache that comes along with a life as a bullied and misunderstood teen.

Lucky isn’t the only fantastically written character in the book- King does an excellent job of giving us deep, well-rounded characters– even the tertiary characters make an impact.

I love how the story of the MIA/POW movement and the Vietnam draft lottery are woven into Lucky’s life.  If you were to poll 18-year old males in the U.S., there is a good chance that most would not know of (or fully understand) the draft lottery.  However, poll their grandfathers and they will rattle off “their number” as second nature.  That number determined, to a large extent, who died, who got to live and who actually got to have a life.

My verdict:  Read it!  I said this book is odd, but in this case, it works.  Once I got the feel for Lucky’s protective fantasies, I really started to enjoy the story.  I often wonder what happens to characters after the story is finished.  In this case, I did not; King wrapped it up so well, you can see Lucky’s future as clearly as if it were written on the page.  A great read.

Don’t know about the draft lottery? Read about it here and discover what your number would have been.  If you were a male born 1944-1950, would you have been drafted?  I would. (#101)

 

 

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