First of all, before I even start the review, I’m going to give you two disclaimers.
1. When I started reading this, I knew it was going to be epic. Like, along the same lines as Jay Asher’s 13 Reasons Why and John Green’s The Fault in Our Stars. I’m not sure if it was the beautiful writing (part of it), the amazing plot line (definitely), or something unnamable. So, here’s the disclaimer: This is an epic book.
2. I did not like the ending. And I’m going to semi-spoil things for you in the review because of it. However, it’s important to remember (for me, too), that this book isn’t necessarily about the ending. It’s about everything from the first few pages to the last. (But I still hated the ending.)
So, here goes.
Title: We All Looked Up
Author: Tommy Wallach
Genre: Young Adult, Speculative Fiction
What’s It About? Chances are, you’ve heard something about this book. It was pretty hyped before it was even published. And I even saw a FULL PAGE AD in Entertainment Weekly for it. Which, is kind of crazy, because they don’t really advertise a single YA book like that in that magazine.
Okay, okay. Getting back on track. Here’s the story: A asteroid (affectionately named Ardor) is on a collision course with Earth. (Well, the scientists have predicted there’s 66.66666% chance of Ardor actually hitting the Earth.) If the asteroid does hit, it basically means the end of life on Earth for the time being. Pretty epic, right? Well, then you have four main characters who aren’t friends by any means of the imagination. But they’re all still connected. (I see what you did there, Tommy Wallach.) There’s Peter, the All-American basketball player. There’s Eliza, the artsy slut. There’s Andy, the stoner-skater. There’s Anita, the overachiever. What a mix, right?
The story is actually about how they all end up coming together in one way or another because of this asteroid. But the important thing about the story is how they deal with the possibility of dying. Like I said, epic.
Now, here’s what I thought about it: I liked it. I’ll be honest, the middle got a little slow, but I think I was just waiting for more things to happen. And while there was constantly something happening, I was waiting to get to the end already.
The Prose: It was beautifully written. Wallach is a singer-songwriter (more below), and it’s obvious he has a way with words. It’s poetic. There were a lot of lines I wish I could have underlined or highlighted, but alas I was reading the library’s copy. (Coincidentally, I did put this on my To-Buy list on Amazon. It was that good.)
The Characters: I loved each and every character. As a reader, I really grew with them. I felt like I was standing next to them throughout the entire book. They were really rounded going into the story, which was obvious, but they became even more complex throughout. Wallach did an amazing job with this. There were times I loved each of them, and hated them, and then hated Wallach for what he did to them. (I’m shaking my fist at you, Tommy Wallach!) I don’t even think I have just one favorite, which is nuts. Also, it’s not just about the POV characters (listed above). Wallach also did an amazing job of fleshing out the secondary characters that were just as important to the story — Peter’s sister, Misery. Andy’s best friend, Bobo. The drug kingpin, Golden. I mean, really. It was pretty well done. On an epic scale. As a writer, I’m impressed.
The Story: I loved the concept from the moment I first read about this. And really, what’s not to love? It brings up the epic question: What would you do in the face of imminent extinction? It’s really interesting how Wallach approached the topic. And believe-you-me, he didn’t hold back. It was real and visceral. It was true to life. And at times, shocking. (But, I’m easily shocked, let’s be honest.) Parts of it reminded me of Palahniuk’s Fight Club for teens. Not because there’s fighting (but there is), but the way the characters acted toward “the end.”
The Ending: OK, stop here if you don’t want the tiniest spoilers. And remember what I said — it’s not about the end, really. The end of the story is just a consequence of having to end somewhere. Here, I’ll even use white font.
Start highlighting here: The story literally ends as the asteroid is minutes from hitting Earth. Or, really, if you find out if the asteroid collided or not. And while, again, I get it’s not about the asteroid actually hitting or missing, I still wanted, no NEEDED, to know. If I ever meet Mr. Wallach, I will ask him before I gush over this book. End highlighting.
In the end, I had ALL THE FEELS for this book. And I highly recommend it.
Rating: 12/10 stars. That’s right. It’s a Jennifer L. Armentrout level book.
Bonus Features! Remember earlier when I said Wallach is a singer/songwriter? Well, the man is amazing. He wrote an EP that is basically the soundtrack of this novel. (The only other novel I know that was done for was The Seven Rays (which I can’t find on Amazon now), when I fell in love with Elizaveta.) I haven’t listened to it, yet. But I damn well plan on it. You can find out more about the album, Wallach, and other stuff at his website: www.tommywallach.com. You can buy the album directly from iTunes here.