Review: We All Looked Up by Tommy Wallach

April 21, 2015 Review 22 ★★★★

Review: We All Looked Up by Tommy Wallach
We All Looked Up by Tommy Wallach
(Goodreads | Amazon | Book Depository)

Publisher: Simon and Schuster Australia
Source: Publisher
Pages: 370
Release Date: 26th March 2015
Genres: Coming of Age, Contemporary, Emotions & Feelings, Friendship, Love & Romance, People & Places, Young Adult
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 book may be unsuitable for younger readers due to its use of sexual content, drug and alcohol use, and/or violence. Note that this review itself does not contain any inappropriate material.

I received this book for free from the source listed above in exchange for an honest review. This does not affect my opinion of the book or the content of my review.

bec (2)

Every once in a while you come across a book that is really hard to explain in words for one reason or another. WE ALL LOOKED UP is one of those books for me, because I finished it three weeks ago and haven’t had time to pen my thoughts until now, and because reading it was sort of a surreal experience, for the first half anyway.

What was surreal about it? In the first half of WE ALL LOOKED UP I read so many concepts and ideas I had thought about and struggled with before. The characters are in their final year of high school, trying to figure out if what they’re doing now and what they want to do in the future is meaningful or just a waste of time. This exact situation was my life a little under three years ago, and those memories are still fresh because these questions I, and many other young adults, continue to ask myself. And I don’t even have that whole “an asteroid may hit the Earth in two months and obliterate two thirds of life” pressure.

“The best books, they don’t talk about things you never thought of before. They talk about things you always thought about, but that you didn’t think anyone else had thought about. You read them, and suddenly you’re not alone in the world.” p. 11

The most fascinating part of WE ALL LOOKED UP was seeing how different types of people reacted to this potential impending doom. Can you imagine living with a deadline, waiting for the penultimate moment when it could all possible end? Would you keep doing what you’re doing or change your entire lifestyle? The four teens in WE ALL LOOKED UP came from different backgrounds and all reacted in different ways. Some of it was scary, some of it was weird, and some was probably what I would do. There was also a lot of substance abuse, gangs taking over streets, and violence and anarchy.

“Do you think it’s better to fail at something worthwhile, or succeed at something meaningless?” p. 12

Another aspect of WE ALL LOOKED UP I loved was the writing. I already mentioned how Wallach manage to put words I never entirely realised other people thought and put them on a page. Well he didn’t just put the thoughts on paper, he also explained the concepts in the best way possible. Everything was constructed beautifully. So many quotes were marked in the first half of this novel. I have three pages filled in my reading notebook dedicated to this book.

“Why had he assumed time was some kind of infinite source? 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.” p. 86

Unfortunately WE ALL LOOKED UP didn’t maintain the incredibly high standard all the way to the final page. Things got a bit… meh at times in a second half, which sucks because I was so prepared to give this book 5 stars just for the first half. It wasn’t terrible, but it definitely wasn’t on the same level. Most of the problem I had with the second half was the movement away from general human reactions and interesting things to annoying teenage drama.

Teen drama is not entirely unexpected, it is a contemporary after all, but I wasn’t expecting there to be such a focus on it in this book. The drama also revolves around a love quadrangle and romance I couldn’t really get behind. Then there’s the gang/anarchist aspect and sudden action and psychopathic actions of some side characters that lead to an unexpected character death. That stuff was interesting, but also felt kind of weird and sudden and out of place.

That teenage drama part of the plot was literally the only issue I had with WE ALL LOOKED UP. Everything else I loved, from the characters who were all relateable to the writing and themes this novel presented. This contemporary made me think about life and the future, and that’s what I love my contemporaries to do more than anything.

Rating Report
Overall: 3.8

22 Responses to “Review: We All Looked Up by Tommy Wallach”

  1. Joy // Joyousreads

    Well that’s disappointing. It almost felt like a Jekyll and Hyde read for you, isn’t it? It sounds like the other plot elements were afterthoughts. It just didn’t make any sense. I’m still curious about this book, regardless. ;)
    Joy // Joyousreads recently posted…[514]: The Shadows by JR Ward

    • Bec

      It was a bit like that, fortunately the good bits are great though so I can overlook the meh bits. If it dominated the plot my rating might have been very different.

  2. A Canadian Girl

    I’ve never really been a fan of those books that consider what would you do if you knew life was going to end in so-and-so hours or days, but was prepared to give this one a try based off the quotes you chose, Bec. Then, I found out the second half is full of teenage drama. I guess I’ll have to pass on this one then too. Great review though!
    A Canadian Girl recently posted…Review: Cold Burn of Magic by Jennifer Estep

    • Bec

      Aw that’s a shame :( But there’s no point reading it if you don’t think you’d like the drama and such.

  3. Kirsty-Marie

    Okay, now I really need to read this, because it does seem relatable, in the way of how we are, the questions we ask ourselves and how we react to things, and I mean, I’m glad there’s different reactions because obviously we wouldn’t all react the same way. Mean, second half, mean. Teenage drama more with the romance? Guys, you might die,, why the drama over that, huh? >:(
    Kirsty-Marie recently posted…Guest Review Amber: As I Wake

    • Bec

      Yes! Those relatable aspects were what I loved about it. And fortunately all that was good enough that I could overlook all that silly drama. They could have been doing so much else.

  4. Mari - Escape In A Book

    Too bad the novel did not quite hold its own quality all the way to the finish line. I am not sure if this is for me. I am thinking it a little weird that teenage drama should take over when one shortly is in danger of being killed by an asteroid.
    Mari – Escape In A Book recently posted…Tag: Burn, rewrite or reread?

    • Bec

      Yeah it was a shame but I’m still glad the start was so good!

      Some of the drama I could understand, like there were kids who’d never been kissed or been in a relationship of anything before. It just sucks that it had to include a love triangle/square.

    • Bec

      Yay bookish twins! If the drama just took a bit more of a back seat it would have been so much more amazing. Thanks :)

  5. Alise

    I’m loving those quotes but I reallllly dislike the sound of drama, especially when it seems thrown in for no reason. That would have ruined the second half of the book for me as well. The love quadrangle sounds pretty frustrating, only the ToG series can get away with that ;)

    • Bec

      There were so many amazing comments, honestly. It made it a lot easier to forgive the second half a little, so it wasn’t as irritating as it otherwise would have been.

      Haha it’s only the most special books that handle love quadrangles well XD

  6. Joy @ Thoughts By J

    Um…a love quadrangle….*hides*

    I can think of nothing worse to be honest. I’ve heard so many great things about this book, but it’s so refreshing to read your review and get a different perspective as well Bec. I’ve heard the ending is really abrupt, but no one really mentioned the love quadrangle and the teen drama in their reviews. :/

    Hmm, still interested in reading this book but may have to bump it lower on the TBR. Thanks for the honest review chica xx
    Joy @ Thoughts By J recently posted…Book Review: Conjured by Sarah Beth Durst

    • Bec

      The ending is abrupt, but honestly it fits the story and is exactly where I thought it would end. I don’t think I’d want to change it for anything.

      I guess the teen drama/quadrangle really depends on how you interpret it.

      No worries :)

  7. Wattle

    I’m glad you enjoyed this one, even if the second half did go a little flat (even I thought it was a bit weird and I loved this book as a whole, I guess I forgave it pretty easily :P )

    I didn’t even think of the romance thing as a quadrangle while reading but you are SO right lol
    Wattle recently posted…Showcase Sunday #24

    • Bec

      It was a unique books. Wasn’t entirely perfect but then again it’s not my typical genre. Overall it was amazing.

      I picked it that it might develop that way in early on. At least it wasn’t a quadrangle that took up the entire novel.

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