Release Date: March 24, 2015
Publisher: Simon & Schuster Books for Young Readers
Review copy from NetGalley
Four high school seniors put their hopes, hearts, and humanity on the line as an asteroid hurtles toward Earth in this contemporary novel.
They always say that high school is the best time of your life.
Peter, the star basketball player at his school, is worried “they” might actually be right. Meanwhile Eliza can’t wait to escape Seattle—and her reputation—and perfect-on-paper Anita wonders if admission to Princeton is worth the price of abandoning her real dreams. Andy, for his part, doesn’t understand all the fuss about college and career—the future can wait.
Or can it? Because it turns out the future is hurtling through space with the potential to wipe out life on Earth. As these four seniors—along with the rest of the planet—wait to see what damage an asteroid will cause, they must abandon all thoughts of the future and decide how they’re going to spend what remains of the present.My thoughts:
At the beginning of 2015, I featured Tommy Wallach's debut as one of my top 10 most expected debuts for the year. I was BEYOND excited when I got this approved on Netgalley and started to read it right away. Now that I have read it, I don't quite know what to think. On the other hand, I liked it fine, but on the other, I was left a bit disappointed. Hopefully I am able to express to you I am so mixed with my thoughts at the moment.
We All Looked Up introduces us to four characters – Andy, Anita, Peter and Eliza. They go to the same high school and know some of the same people, but they are not really friends. Andy is known as a slacker, associated with somewhat shady people because of his friendship with a drug dealer named Bobo. Anita is the straight-A student on her way to Princeton – everyone thinks she is uptight, prudish and a bit of a snob. Peter is the stereotypical jock with an athletic scholarship in his back pocket and a perfect girlfriend on his side. Finally, Eliza is the girl with confidence and a status of a slut among her peers. What has connected them before the events of the book really start to unfold are shared friends, random encounters and secret crushes.
Though We All Looked Up as a very standard contemporary setting (high school, teenagers, relationships etc), what makes it quite distinctive is the fact that is is set around the last few months before a huge asteroid is predicted to hit the earth and kill at least 2/3rds of the population. This sense of living at the end of the world and of existence sets in motion a set of events that connects the four characters in a way they never expected to be connected.
Wallach narrates his story through alternating chapters that provide the point of view of the four different characters. In my opinion, using four points of view is a risky choice since you have to create four very distinctive characters with four very distinctive voices. I think Wallach does pretty well with distinguishing these characters from each other and in general, I did feel like I got to see the world through eyes of four different characters. I really found myself enjoying the POVs of Anita and Eliza – I was surprised of how well Wallach writes about issues related to the lives of teenage girls. Occasionally, I found myself struggling with the POV of Andy, mostly because, intentionally or not, Wallach has made his sound like a young version of Jesse Pinkman with all of his “yo” - statements. I love Jesse Pinkman, but I don't know, I just found myself getting a bit iffy with this 'yo' thing as the book processed. Please note that this is a very MINOR thing that did not really have role in the development of the narrative itself. I just found it to be something that I started to think about and that's why I wanted to mention it here. So hey, don't let the yo's keep you from reading this one.
I must say I am a bit bummed out about the fact that the setting of this novel was not used more. Yes, there are description about things that are happening in the city (Seattle) as the end of the world becomes ot come closer, but I feel like throughout the novel, something was missing. In general, I feel like the world is not build with enough detail, but on the other hand, I do realize that this novel is more about the characters that inhabit it than about the socio-economical and political structures of their world.
As I said, I liked this, but at the same time, I am a bit disappointed. I think the disappointment oozes mostly from the fact that my expectations for this novel were so high and though some of them were filled, I cannot say that it was all that I expected it to be. I think I expected this to be one of those books that I just cannot put down, but ended up finding parts in the middle of the novel that were just a bit boring. I feel like if I expectations would have been a bit lower, I would have found myself maybe enjoying this a bit more. We All Looked Up is in no way a bad book, but personally for me, it didn't end up being all I expected it to be. Despite all that, I would definitely recommend We All Looked Up to all fans of contemporary YA – it will provide you a nice change from the general high school setting and introduce you to four very well established and distinctive characters.