We All Looked Up

By Tommy Wallach

Source: Received from the publisher

Series: n/a

Received from the publisher, for free, for review consideration. This does not affect my opinion of the book or the content of my review.

Publication Date: March 31, 2015

Published by Simon & Schuster Books for Young Readers

My Rating: three-half-stars

We All Looked Up

Cover image and summary from Goodreads:

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.

I really wanted to love We All Looked Up. I want books about the impending apocalypse to fill me with hope, sorrow, and longing. I want to be moved when I read a book about the end of the world. While I really enjoyed the story, I didn’t connect to this book’s characters the way that I wanted to, which prevented me from loving the book.

I loved the novel’s premise, and really enjoyed seeing the way these four separate characters (Anita, Andy, Peter, and Eliza) became wrapped up in each other’s lives and how they all came together in a way that they might not have, if they weren’t dealing with a possible apocalypse. I’m not sure what it was, though, that held me back from connecting with the characters. I liked them and I wanted them to achieve the different goals they were working towards before the end of the world – but  I felt somewhat removed, at arm’s length. Andy’s voice felt distinct, but I found that the other characters’ narrative voices sort of blended together and didn’t feel different from each other.

I also enjoyed the way some of the secondary characters became more central to the story, particularly the way some of them became more menacing as the situation became more dire. There were issues surrounding loss of civil rights, looting, and violence, illustrating that the world can be an especially dangerous place when we all think it’s ending.

I think I was surprised at the way the story seemed to skip ahead on occasion, sometimes days at a time, especially since things seemed to fall apart quickly. I was really looking to read more about the breakdown of society, since that’s part of what really intrigues me about apocalyptic stories, but I do realize that the focus here was on the characters, not necessarily on society or the world at large. But I thought that the characters themselves would perhaps react more to the larger societal changes, at least initially.

I really liked the writing in this book, and would totally read Tommy Wallach’s future works. I also liked that the overall message I got out of the book was one of love, hope, and faith, and in a way I think that the story ended the only way that it really could.

I didn’t fall in love with We All Looked Up, but I liked a lot of things about it. Recommended!

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