Antsy Does Time

Shusterman, Neal


Dutton Children’s Books, New York. 2008. 247 p.




I had the pleasure of meeting Neal Shusterman in real life. He’s obviously very passionate about what he does and really bonds with some of his characters. Antsy is one of those lucky characters.


Antsy first popped up as a side character in Shusterman’s book The Schwa Was Here, but because Shusterman loved Antsy so much he decided to write him his own book. I can’t blame him because Antsy is quite a character. Anthony “Antsy” Bonano is kind of loud, kind of funny, and always scheming. He has a good heart but of course has to act like a typical teenager and keep some level of bravado up at all times.


In this tale, Antsy gets wrapped up in one of his classmate’s lives more than he could have anticipated. Gunnar Umlaut, a brooding 14-year-old who is originally from Sweden and has an icy coolness about him, begins complaining that he only has months to live because he has been diagnosed with a terminal disease. After witnessing a freak accident, Antsy looks at life in a different light and decides to do something to help Gunnar. He decides to give Gunnar six months of his life. Well, this plan snowballs way out of control. People start giving months from their own lives to help the cause, and because Antsy starts falling for Gunnar’s older sister, he finds himself unable to break free from the out-of-control situation. People are giving time freely and begin using time like stocks to trade and barter with for other things, like doing each other’s homework and getting free food. But one evening something happens that scares everyone who has given time, and people begin trying to get their time back, including a panicked Antsy.


I found myself enjoying Antsy in spite of myself. I don’t know if it’s a compliment or not, but to me, Antsy really feels like it was written by the main character. I believe 14-year-old Antsy is telling us this story. Is it bad that Shusterman writes like a 14-year-old? Hard to say. I can’t say the plot or writing were top level, but in the end, does that even matter since I enjoyed the book and wanted to keep reading it to the end as fast as possible to see what happened? Maybe, maybe not. It depends on who you ask I suppose, but for me, it wasn’t the worst thing in the world. The book was fun and even funny in spite of any shortcomings I found.


Shusterman said he has another Antsy book on the way called Antsy Floats. All I know is, Antsy will be on a boat somehow, and I’ll probably end up reading that one, too.