Title: We All Looked Up
Author: Tommy Wallach
Published: March 26th 2015
Publisher: Simon & Schuster UK Children’s
Genre: Young Adult, Contemporary, Apocalyptic
Length: 384 pages
I received a copy of this book through NetGalley in exchange for an honest review.
Book Blurb (via 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’m not quite sure what I had been expecting when I requested this book, but it definitely turned out to be shocking and beyond anything I might have thought it to be.
Following four teens as they deal with the news that they might only have a 1/3 chance of surviving an meteorite hit in a couple months, this story is less post-apocalyptic and more scary but accurate depiction of how things can quickly go to hell when faced with an end of the world situation.
Although I found it hard to connect with the characters – there was something about them that just didn’t feel ‘real’ to me, like they were just the stereotypes they were portraying (jock, stoner, good girl, promiscuous girl) – I do think that the way they all came together and faced their mortality was tragically beautiful in a way.
This book had a lot of surprises for me, most of them towards the end. There was one particular moment that was so horrific, I had to put the book down for a while before I picked it up again to finish it. The decline of the people and the overpowering ‘police state’ takeover shows the inevitable decline into violence and mayhem, but I still wasn’t quite prepared for what happened.
And yet there was still the small sliver of hope for humanity in the End of the World Party that the teens put together. People coming from all over to just be together and celebrate their potentially last moments on earth.
I found the ending to be bittersweet, but it’s such a powerful story that I didn’t find it disappointing. This one will stay with me for a while, a truly tragic and yet beautiful debut.
About the Author
Tommy Wallach is a Brooklyn-based writer and musician. His first novel, We All Looked Up, will be published by Simon and Schuster in April 2015. His work has appeared in many nice magazines, such as McSweeney’s, Tin House, and Wired. He has released an EP with Decca Records, and will be independently putting out an LP in Spring 2014. He also makes music videos, including one that was exhibited at the Guggenheim Museum. You should buy him dinner.