Book Review | We All Looked Up by Tommy Wallach


Genre: Young Adult Contemporary

Publishers: Simon & Schuster Books for Young Readers

Publication Date: March 24th, 2015

My Rating: πŸŒŸ πŸŒŸ πŸŒŸ πŸŒŸ

Goodreads Synopsis:

Before the asteroid we let ourselves be defined by labels:
The athlete, the outcast, the slacker, the overachiever.

But then we all looked up and everything changed.

They said it would be here in two months. That gave us two months to leave our labels behind. Two months to become something bigger than what we’d been, something that would last even after the end.

Two months to really live.

This blurb doesn’t do the book justice – it makes it sound like this cliche YA contemporary, but it’s really not.

(Okay, I’ll admit there are some cliches. But pretty much all books have them, and they don’t overwhelm the novel, and that’s what’s important.)

‘The best books, they don’t talk about things you never thought about before. They talk about things you’d always thought about, but that you didn’t think anyone else had thought about. You read them, and suddenly you’re a little bit less alone in the world. You’re part of this cosmic community of people who’ve thought about this thing, whatever it happens to be.’

(I love that quote!)

I have seriously mixed feelings about this book – because it was great, but there are some things I’ve got issues with, even days after reading it. 

Let’s start off with what I liked about it!

The story wasn’t what I thought it was going to be – which is good. I thought it was going to be a bunch of teenage misfits (I say misfits when I really mean popular kids labelled as misfits for marketing purposes) all hanging out in a group, feel crappy because hey, the end of the world is right round the corner. But then as their impending doom came closer to becoming reality, they’d all turn wistful and realise life could’ve been a heck of a lot worse and suddenly they’re all buddies. 

But that wasn’t the plot, and I’m glad it wasn’t. (I won’t lie though, I totally would’ve read that if it were a novel, too.)

Instead, we’re given this honest, believable story. The reality element in We All Looked Up was almost intimidating, because it was so truthful. Tommy Wallach hasn’t shied away from anything – and it’s sad to think that if Earth suddenly had a date with an asteroid in two months time, I’m pretty sure the world would resemble something very similar to the horridness in this novel. 

Our story follows the lives of a group of high school students after they’re told they have two months until the world could end (which is highly likely, it would seem). Told by four characters perspectives, I was impressed by the way Wallach wove the tale so seamlessly between the different POVs. Not once did I feel lost or confused, as everything fit together perfectly. 

And the characters themselves were interesting to read about. They all had such vastly different personalities, and were coming from different backgrounds. It was refreshing to have characters who actually had their own identities – I often read novels where one character blurs into another, so this added another level to the reality factor. 

‘Why had he assumed time was some sort of infinite resource? Now the hourglass had busted open, and what he’d always assumed was just a bunch of sand turned out to be a million tiny diamonds.’

Everything in this book was pretty hard hitting, and I think it’s because of this very simple fact: There’s no zombies roaming the streets of New York, or aliens invading Manhattan – there’s just an asteroid on a course straight to destroying Earth. And that’s something that (though extremely unlikely) could actually happen. 

I know I’ve mentioned it quite a bit, but this book was so realistic. I think it’s actually one of the things I didn’t like about it. Not because realism is a bad thing, but because I just found it hard to read something that was just so truthful – but it’s also what made it as good as it was!

I was close to giving this book a higher rating (I also considered giving it a lower one, too), but something happened in one of the last sections that sort of spoiled the read for me. 

Here’s why: I wasn’t expecting it, and to suddenly come across something that I felt didn’t really fit with the novel, or the characters personalities, was sort of shocking. I won’t go into details because this is a spoiler-free review, but I will say I’m a bit disappointed at what happened. 

But I’m sort of glad I was caught off guard, because it’s given me the motivation to do something I’ve been thinking about recently: Trigger warnings. 

I think it’s really important for people to be aware of things that could trigger them in a novel, and I want to help others who want/need a heads up before reading a book.

So I’ve decided to include Topic Awareness – warnings for certain subjects that I think some people may want to be aware of before reading a book. They’ll be placed at the end of my reviews, so it won’t affect you being able to read my review if you don’t want these warnings.

Topic Awareness:

  • Terminal illness
  • Violence / Death
  • Alcohol & Drug abuse
  • Mentions of sex
  • Theft / Vandalism

If I’ve missed anything that you think is a potentially harmful subject in this novel, please let me know.

Have you read this novel?


– Emma

Read On!

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