We All Looked Up
by Tommy Wallach Published by Simon and Schuster
on March 24th, 2015 Format:
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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.
We All Looked Up was a lively book, with intense situations and character development. However, I did find certain things I didn’t enjoy or understand. Firstly, the author did choose to focus more on the lives of the characters in contrast to the asteroid itself. Peter, Eliza, Anita, and Andy have some pretty crazy lives and all of them are unsure of their futures. With this said, I did think that the characters were a bit flat during parts of the novel. The writing itself was solid, but it could have been more descriptive. I wished that the author developed certain scenes more, sometimes it felt to me that he spent a lot of time on scenes that didn’t really matter to the general plot. Unnecessary deaths and relationship drama occurred, and some confusing religious themes were intertwined lightly, though they never truly became a moral I could actively identify.
With that said, We All Looked Up was very realistic in how it portrayed a typical teenager’s life, and how the world would actually be if the apocalypse was coming. Eliza, Andy, Anita, and Peter all had one thing in common: they were labeled by their peers. Eliza was the slut, Peter was the athlete, Andy was the slacker, and Anita was the overachiever. Turns out that once you step into their shoes and read from their POV, you find out that they are truly nothing like those labels on the inside. Not to say that their isn’t plenty of drugs, drinking, sex, or violence from each character going on throughout the novel, but I felt that even if they did seem not very three-dimensional at some points, the characters were generally refreshing.
The one character I was interested to read from was Eliza, as she was labeled “the slut”. Sometimes slut shaming is common in young adult books, but this is not the case. I really understood Eliza, her motivations, her bad home life, how everything looked and felt to her. I’m glad Tommy Wallach didn’t pass up the opportunity to use Eliza and her character to positively show people who are labeled ‘sluts’ are real people who have problems that cause their self-destructive behavior. I’m glad he didn’t pass up the opportunity to remind readers that those who are labeled are real people with real feelings, thoughts, dreams, and situations.
I liked how Tommy Wallach included drawings of how close the asteroid was, the thought that all of these characters with all of these problems were going to be destroyed instantly by one flaming rock was always in the back of my mind, reminding m to get pumped for the ending. And on the topic of the ending, I was half happy and half sad. I’m not sure it satisfying enough of a conclusion for me, and I’m sure wondering what the director of the movie adaptation is going to do with it. Good luck to them, whoever he is!
Final thoughts: A pretty good read with a few character and plot issues. I recommend that older teens read this one because of explicit content. And just in case you’re wondering, if the movie does happen, I will be seeing it!