It turned out that no amount of terror could stop the great human need to connect…
*I received this book for free from Goodreads First Reads. This has not affected my opinion or review.*
When I received my copy of We All Looked Up by Tommy Wallach, I wasn’t sure what to expect. The blurb was a little vague, not entirely helped by the cover. I decided I would read a few pages, just to get a sense of what the book was like. I didn’t stop reading.
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.
This book was fantastic from the beginning to end. There isn’t really any set plot in the sense that there’s some goal or event they’re trying to accomplish or thwart – because how can you actively thwart death by asteroid? The events are driven by the characters and the decisions they make in the face of a possible apocalypse. The book is told in third person from the perspectives of the four main characters: Peter, Eliza, Andy, and Anita.
Usually I don’t like multiple perspectives for one reason or another, but We All Looked Up was spectacular. Each of the voices was really distinct and I really liked all the characters. They each had their own problems to deal with and even though they were all connected, I really got a sense of their unique characteristics. My favourite character was Anita – she had such a good heart, and she managed to make decisions that she believed would make her happy.
I think that this book really accurately portrayed the way things could go in the face of very potential death. People panic. That’s the entire thing in a nutshell. People panic and they turn desperate and violent and cruel and into monsters of themselves. The things you don’t notice in a person in ordinary light suddenly becomes so perfectly clear you wondered how you missed it (or ignored it) the entire time. We All Looked Up is as much about people’s reaction to potential death as it is the way we strive to grasp each moment in those situations. I personally loved the way that it ended. I won’t spoil it, but it ended even better than I had hoped it would.
My favourite thing about the book was the writing and the concepts of karass and of Pyrrhic victories. The writing was smooth and absorbing so I really fell headfirst into the novel. I really enjoyed Tommy Wallach’s unique use of metaphors and similes; they were all original and descriptive and unusual but perfectly suited all at the same time. The concepts of Pyrrhic victories carried throughout the entire story, shadowed by the actions of the characters, and I personally love when a book has a larger concept tying the whole thing together.
Overall, We All Looked Up by Tommy Wallach was an amazing and immersive read. It made me think about the way we, in real life, might react to that kind of situation, and what I would do if I was only given two months. Is it too early to call it one of my favourite contemporary reads of the year?