Book Review: We All Looked Up by Tommy Wallach

Book Review: We All Looked Up by Tommy Wallach

Shelved: Young adult fiction (contemporary, science fiction)
Buy: Hive
More: Goodreads

“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.”

We All Looked Up was the May pick for my informal we-actually-just-want-an-excuse-to-meet-up-and-chat book club and I was really looking forward to reading it. I’ve read a lot of young adult sci-fi but We All Looked Up is different – a mix of science fiction and contemporary, one of my favourite genres. I tweeted about We All Looked Up when I started reading it, saying it was The Breakfast Club meets the apocalypse, and I still think that’s true. But our four teenage protagonists are confined to one town rather than one building!

Before the asteroid, four teenagers lived their lives defined by four neat labels: athlete (Peter), the outcast (Eliza), the slacker (Andy), the overachiever (Anita), but now that the world’s changed, they have the opportunity to think about themselves, others and the world around them a little bit more. I love how We All Looked Up is told, in alternating chapters narrated by our protagonists, going back and forth between the present and the immediate past. I used to think of myself as someone who would pick ‘plot’ over ‘characters’ but while others are perhaps a little disappointed in the lack of wider world-building – what’s happening in the rest of the world as  Arden is approaching and what governments are doing to stop it – I didn’t feel that that was the point of We All Looked Up. All of the teenagers are flawed and the asteroid is just a device through which we get a modern coming-of-age story.

As with any young adult contemporary novel, we still get our love stories, family arguments, difficult choices and complicated friendships. Peter’s dealing with breaking up with his girlfriend and dreaming about his brief romantic encounter with Eliza – who went from shy to ‘slut’ as a result – and is in competition with Andy, who is amongst the wrong crowd, while Anita is struggling to live up to her parents’ crushing expectations. She takes the opportunity, as it is likely the end of the world after all, to pursue her desire to be a singer. We All Looked Up gets complicated and messy – adolescence often is – as the characters become closer, and I thoroughly enjoyed taking part in their journey.

We All Looked Up is a wonderful, poignant look at what it means to grow up. It makes you wonder whether you have the determination to change the course your life is on, whether you’ll ever have the opportunity to look up.

Published: 26th March 2015
Publisher: Simon & Schuster UK & US
Pages: 384

 

7 thoughts on “Book Review: We All Looked Up by Tommy Wallach

  1. jilliansbooks

    Beautiful review!! I’ve been eyeing on this book for weeks now after reading a couple of reviews. I still see mixed reviews on this book, but I still want to read it because it’s very interesting somehow. :) The characters sound very intriguing because all of them seem to have different personalities, and it’d be nice to get to know them individually. Looks like We All Looked Up has a lot of potential. Thanks for the review! :) Very beautiful <3

    Jillian @ Jillian’s Books

    • Thank you, Jillian! I think it’s just my sort of book. I studied sociology and so I love thinking about people and what society does to make people do the things they do, so I enjoyed this mix.

  2. Awesome review! I’ve been curious about this book so it’s great to see a review! Now I know a bit more about the novel, I am very interested in it. I’m all for the characters over plot, so that’s a bonus!

  3. I absolutely loved this book! I thought it was brilliant! I didn’t know people had those issues with the book. It’s about the teenagers and how their lives are affected, not the whole world. I really loved it! And that ending! Oh my god! So good! Great review, Stacey!

  4. “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.” Would you happen to know what page this quote is on or who’s chapter it is in? I loved the book and remember reading over the quote falling in love with it but turning the page to move on quickly to read more before i could book mark the page!!! grr :/ if you happen to know the page or whos chapter, let me know?!?

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