There are a few things Henry Denton knows, and a few things he doesn’t.
Henry knows that his mom is struggling to keep the family together, and coping by chain-smoking cigarettes. He knows that his older brother is a college dropout with a pregnant girlfriend. He knows that he is slowly losing his grandmother to Alzheimer’s. And he knows that his boyfriend committed suicide last year.
What Henry doesn’t know is why the aliens chose to abduct him when he was thirteen, and he doesn’t know why they continue to steal him from his bed and take him aboard their ship. He doesn’t know why the world is going to end or why the aliens have offered him the opportunity to avert the impending disaster by pressing a big red button.
But they have. And they’ve only given him 144 days to make up his mind.
The question is whether Henry thinks the world is worth saving. That is, until he meets Diego Vega, an artist with a secret past who forces Henry to question his beliefs, his place in the universe, and whether any of it really matters. But before Henry can save the world, he’s got to figure out how to save himself, and the aliens haven’t given him a button for that.
I was a little tentative going into this one. It sounded really interesting but I’m not usually a fan of alien abduction storylines. This one did a great job in making me wonder if the alien abductions were real or if it was part of Henry’s way of coping with the death of his boyfriend. There was worry that the book would seem long before I started it because it was quite thick but the writing flowed well to make it a surprisingly quick read, even at 400+ pages.
Henry was the type of character you really want to show that good does still exist in this world. When something did happen in his life, it was almost always exclusively bad. He was a very cynical character but the observations he made were both hilarious and so on point. His growth through the book was one of the most painful growth arcs I’ve read since every step forward seemed like it was bringing Henry to decided life was worth saving. The supporting cast all added to the story in different ways, from re-building his friendship with Audrey, navigating a complicated relationship with his brother, and wondering exactly what is going on between Henry and new boy Diego.
The biggest presence of the book was Jesse, Henry’s boyfriend who had committed suicide a few months before the book started. Both Henry and Audrey, Jesse’s best friend, were still struggling with accepting it, blaming themselves, blaming anyone they could. The reader got to know Jesse through Henry and he was everywhere with Henry. I felt like I knew him just as well as Henry.
The plot was mostly focused on Henry’s growth and struggles. It was his development that moved the story along. There were a couple of times when it felt like the story was dragging a little and a couple of the characters’ stories ended up in places that made me unhappy and sad. Overall, it was a very insightful book with characters that were easy to get attached to and a premise that was interesting and executed well.
*I received a copy of this book from the publisher in exchange for an honest review.