Review: We All Looked Up by Tommy Wallach

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April 20, 2015 by Bernadette ~ The Bumbling Bookworm

We All Looked Up
by Tommy Wallach
Publisher/Year: Simon & Schuster AU, 1 April 2015
Genre:  Young Adult, Contemporary, Realistic Fiction
Format: Paperback
Source: Courtesy of the Publisher
Rating: 4 stars
Other books from author: This is his debut novel!

Book Depository | Goodreads | Website | Twitter

I received a copy of this book from the publisher in exchange for an honest review.  This does not affect my opinion of the book or the content of my review.

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.

What I Thought…

Woah.  That was pretty much all that was running through my mind when I finished reading this book.  What a story and what an ending!

This story is divided into 10 parts, with each part containing 4 chapters, one from each of our main characters.  We meet our main characters around the same time they find out that there is a giant meteor headed towards Earth named Ardor.  While initially not considered a big deal, Ardor quickly becomes a source of panic when it’s realised that the trajectory is poised to potentially collide with Earth in two months’ time.  There’s a 33.3% chance that it won’t hit Earth, but the overwhelming view is that the world will end in 2 months.

After reading that synopsis, I expected this book to have a real Breakfast Club feel.  The Breakfast Club is one of my favourite movies and We All Looked Up definitely had that vibe to it. Each of the main characters was similar to one of the main characters in the film and the characters all go through significant change throughout the novel, only with a more sinister reason behind it.  Peter suffers an existential crisis, growing a social consciousness and wanting more than to just be the athlete with the perfect girlfriend.  Anita can no longer stand to be the overachieving princess her parents expect her to be, viewing Ardor as a chance to break free.  Andy is a slacker-type, easily manipulated and dragged down by his criminal friends.  And then you have Eliza, the outcast, who is a bit of a combination of the misfit and princess characters in The Breakfast Club.  Each character was connected via six degrees of separation at the start of the book, becoming closer and more intertwined as time went on.

At times, I did struggle to connect with this book a little.  Not very often, and it was only here and there that it happened.  This may have partly been because I couldn’t sit down and read it decent sized sittings, having to content myself with mostly small chunks here and there.  Who knows?  At times I struggled to connect with the romance, although that’s probably because it was completely realistic!  Love isn’t easy, especially during your teenaged years, and Wallach certainly managed to capture that.  I also struggled whenever Andy’s friend Bobo and his criminal friend Golden reared their ugly heads.  I couldn’t for the life of me work out why Andy put up with them!  While I kind of understood why he allowed himself to be manipulated, especially by Bobo, it didn’t make it any easier to read.  Of course, if this book was all sunshine and rainbows, it wouldn’t have been realistic and it likely would have suffered for it.

Despite this, I haven’t been able to switch my brain off since I put this down.  Unlike some other books, this book made me think, and it made me wonder how I’d react if the end of the world was hurtling towards us with no end in sight.  I’m a firm believer in “whatever will be, will be” but I have no idea how I’d react if faced with something of this magnitude.  I also don’t think that a disaster like this would bring out the best in many people, and this was clearly demonstrated in We All Looked Up.  The criminals took advantage of the situation and the authority figures became more and more heavy handed.  People were also instilled with the “flight or fight” response, many choosing to leave and hide somewhere rather than stay and continue life as normal.  We’ve seen time and time again in history how people react to life changing events, and I think Wallach captured a true insight into the human psyche with his debut novel.

I think I’d definitely benefit from a reread of this book, there was so much to take in and it was such an evocative read for only one go through.  A realistic and heartwrenching read, We All Looked Up both terrified and moved me.  I doubt I’ll forget it anytime soon.

What did you think of this book?  Did you enjoy it?


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Hi! I'm Bernadette, a 27 year old lawyer who loves to read (duh!), especially to escape my day job. I love to talk about books but I don't always get the opportunity to do so, hence my blog! I adore YA literature, most genres of Adult Fiction, and I've also been known to pick up a non-fiction book from time to time. I hope you enjoy your visit!

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