Everybody Sees the Ants by A.S. King, Review by Corinne Donnelly
In Everybody Sees the Ants by A.S. King, a teenage boy struggles with bullying, high school, family issues, girls, and frustrating dreams about trying to rescue his missing grandfather. He’s got a lot on his plate.
Lucky Linderman’s grandfather was a prisoner of war during the Vietnam War, and has been missing ever since. The entire family has never recovered, and Lucky has been “searching” for him from a very young age. Meanwhile, Lucky’s parents squabble constantly, and he is the victim of some rather brutal bullying. When his mother jets them off to Arizona to see her brother and his wife, Lucky’s life becomes even more stressful.
While most of the characters are very well-drawn out, the plot falls short once we enter Lucky’s dreams. The author leaves it open to interpretation whether or not Lucky is actually in Vietnam or just imagining it. This decision did not work at all for me, as I found it pulled me out of the action of the book more than it added to the story. The dreams are also too disjointed and happen far too often. While King tries to bring elements of Lucky’s real life into them, the elements she chooses are far too obvious.
I did find the educational aspects of the book fascinating. If I had read this in high school, it would have helped me understand the more intimate details of the war and its aftermath. I think the book also did a fairly decent job of depicting the average high school experience, although there were a few moments that seemed over-dramatic.
All in all, the targeted audience seems to be the young reader, bordering on middle school and early high school. I read quite a lot of young adult fiction, but I do not believe I would classify this book as such. I wouldn’t recommend picking this up unless you’re under the age of twenty.