We All Looked Up by Tommy Wallach, published March 2015 by Simon & Schuster.
Read: April 2015
Genre: Young Adult/Contemporary/Sci-Fi
Get It Now: Wordery
Goodreads Synopsis: Before the asteroid we let ourselves be defined by labels: the athlete, the outcast, the slacker, the overachiever. But then we all looked up and everything changed.
They said it would be here in two months. That gave us two months to leave our labels behind. Two months to become something bigger than what we’d been, something that would last even after the end. Two months to really live.
This review is a tough one! I’m conflicted – ultimately this ended up being a bitter-sweet read, with as many positives as negatives. I really enjoyed the author’s writing style and would happily try something by him again, in this instance though there were some elements that just didn’t work for me. The storyline for this book was fascinating – what would you do if a meteor was hitting earth in 8 weeks, and you had a 33% chance of survival?!
We All Looked Up is Wallach’s debut novel, which makes his writing all the more impressive – for the most part this book was beautifully written, at times verging on philosophical. I say “for the most part” because once I got to 60-70% I couldn’t actually finish it for 3 weeks! At times the story felt very slow, which probably wasn’t helped by the four alternating POVs, each with their own side-characters. I didn’t get to spend enough time with each character to get to know them or bond with them (which you’d think is important when the point of the book is that they might all die), but on the other hand the multiple POVs did give the reader an insight into the effects of impending doom on a variety of individuals…
While all of the characters’ individual narrations could have been the sole voice for this novel, taking it in a different direction depending on who you choose, my favourites were Peter and Eliza, and their story. Wallach broke my heart over this one, but these characters’ voices were strongest for me, and the book could have centred on just the two of them quite easily. I felt there was just too much going on in the storyline, and that if fewer story-arcs and minor (almost irrelevant?) characters were involved then the pacing would have benefited and the overall reading experience would have been much more enjoyable.
I will admit I came close to DNF’ing this read – at the 70% mark I lost interest, and put the book down for a while, struggling to come back to it. Eventually, I decided to finish it if only to discover how Wallach ended the novel… which I’m not about to spoil for you here!
“Peter had figured that once you reached a certain age, somebody just handed you all the knowledge you’d need in order to be an adult. But it turned out that wasn’t how it worked at all.”
“The best books, they don’t talk about things you never thought about before. They talk about things you’d always thought about, but that you didn’t think anyone else had thought about. You read them , and suddenly you’re a little bit less alone in the world.”
“Do you think it’s better to fail at something worthwhile, or to succeed at something meaningless?”
Have you read We All Looked Up? What did you make of it? Let me know in the comments!