Monday, 30 March 2015

We All Looked Up by Tommy Wallach

Description from Goodreads

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.

If I'm being completely honest, I didn't start reading We All Looked Up with very high expectations despite the novel being one of the most anticipated YA novels in 2015. In fact, I don't read very often contemporary books, because I feel that they are often very predictable (or maybe I've just picked the wrong contemporary books??). However, the premise intrigued me so much, an asteroid heading towards the Earth which will change the lives of four teenagers forever, that I decided to give the genre the occasional chance that I give it from time to time, just to freshen up from all the fantasy and scifi that I usually consume. And I have to give that the debut author Tommy Wallach most definitely didn't disappoint me!

I get it now, why people have been so excited about We All Looked Up. There's something so refreshing about the novel which depicts the lives of Peter (the jog), Eliza (the artist), Anita (the nerd), and Andy (the slacker) and how those lives, which are complete opposite of each other, intertwine because of the horrifying news of the asteroid most likely wiping out 66.6% of the population with its collision. You might first think that the very stereotypical teenager characters might stay just like that, stereotypical, but Wallach is able to breath edge and vulnerability to every character. Even though I liked all the characters, I especially liked Anita and Andy. Their point of views touched me the most as I was able to identify with them the most. Anita struggling with her demanding parents while working her way to the Ivy League, and Andy trying to search a meaning to his life with little luck as he is so lost himself. 

I have to admit that I was expecting a little bit more about the consequences of how the news of the asteroid would affect the society. Sure, the author does describe some of the havoc in Seattle that takes place, but I really wanted to know what the global effect would be like - perhaps more of the economical and political consequences. Of course, the focus of this book was obviously on the relationships and not the societal impacts, but it would have been fun (if you can say that) to see Wallach explore a bigger picture what was happening in the world. That being said, I didn't exactly feel like I liked the book less because I didn't get what I first expected as the influence of the asteroid on Seattle was described. 

Wallach can be a funny guy. He writes very enjoyable prose, and I love how he uses brackets to amplify his jokes (I tend to do that too (see I'm doing it right now (okay, now it's going a bit overboard))). He writes the characters witty and smart, some being more of that and other less, but I'm not sure if there was even one chapter which didn't have something clever linguistic-wise. The 'jokes' weren't exactly laugh-out-loud haha funny, but sarcastic, ironic, or just defiant remarks that stay with you. And I really enjoy reading that kind of writing, particularly so when it seems so effortless like in the case of Tommy Wallach. 

We All Looked Up was a very good debut novel. And you know what, not just a good debut novel, a really enjoyable story. I'm really looking forward to Tommy Wallach's future books because I just fell in love with the way he writes; it's easy to read without getting the feeling that the lines are superficial. We All Looked Up was published March 24, 2015 by Simon and Schuster Books for Young Readers, so you can get yours now!

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