Published by Simon and Schuster Australia on March 31, 2015
Genres: Science Fiction, Young Adult
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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 you were told today that an asteroid was hurtling towards Earth and we only had 7 weeks left to live, what would you do?
We All Looked up explores this situation from the lives of four different teenagers, who need to find meaning in their lives in the short time they have left. They reflect on their dreams and aspirations, what they want to achieve before the asteroid Ardor hits, and they go for it.
- For Anita, this means pursuing her dream as a singer, despite her parent’s expectations on her joining an Ivy League school.
- For Peter, this means breaking up with his cheerleader girlfriend, and being with the girl he really wants to be with.
- For Eliza, this means making a mark on the world and being known, for something other than sleeping around.
- And for Andy, this means finally getting laid with the girl of his dreams.
What was it that made you keep playing a video game, hour after hour, day after day, no matter how terrible the writing was or how boring the story? You kept going because you had a quest. It didn’t even matter what it was – saving a princess or conquering an alien world or assassinating a king. Andy pictured Eliza as she used to be shy and spectral, quiet as a painting. It was as noble a quest as any.
The Ivy League girl, the popular jock with the cheerleader girlfriend, the school slut and the slacker/stoner – while these characters won’t win any awards for originality, they were relatable and explored in a profound way. When you’re in public, how many people do you categorise into boxes in your head? If you looked beyond the surface, would they be different to your initial thoughts? The characters in We All Looked Up were all living contradictions – there was so much more to them than their reputation.
For example, Eliza has been branded as a slut from kissing a popular cheerleader’s boyfriend. She does have more sex than the average teenager, but why does she do this? She feels it’s the only thing she can control in her life, where her mother has left and her dad has cancer. This girl treats sex like it’s a charity; if she can feel wanted and bring happiness to someone in a short amount of time, she would do it.
Beauty always made a target of its possessor. Every other human quality was hidden easily enough – intelligence, talent, selfishness, even madness – but beauty would not be concealed.
While I’m glad We All Looked Up is a sex positive book which explores slut shaming and unhealthy attitudes about sex, there was a particularly uncomfortable scene which I wasn’t too fond of. A random guy slides into Eliza’s bed, asking for sex, and she gives it, because she was wanted. That was creepy and uncomfortable, and birth control was never mentioned.
The end of the book kind of becomes a bit too intense with the romantic drama, which I wasn’t a fan of. All of these characters gets paired off, and suddenly all that matters is being with someone else. Instead worrying about the end of the world, drama, jealousy and romance came to the forefront.
While a wonderful friendship between four unlikely characters is formed, where’s the time that they spent with their family and other friends? There was hardly any interaction with them after the asteroid was announced, especially with Eliza’s dad, who has cancer, and Anita’s parents which she runs out on. If Peter was so popular, where are his other friends?
Whether the asteroid blazed past them like a bad overhead pass, or landed like a huge fist wrapped in chains of fire, Ardor had already delivered its stale but necessary message: Life was just too goddamn short.
We All Looked Up is a beautiful, philosophical and thought provoking read that offers a beautiful message on living life to the fullest without regret. No matter what the goal is, if you put your mind to it, you can make it happen. Whether you succeed or not isn’t important, it’s whether you actually tried so you’ll have no regrets, and at least you’ll know the outcome. We often let so many things get in the way of our aspirations, and we spend precious time doing what we don’t want to be doing.
Profound thoughts on life can be found throughout its pages, which I spent time reflecting upon. This is a book that requires quiet reflection to be appreciated.
Rating: 3.5 out of 5
Thank you to Simon and Schuster Australia and Aussie YA Bloggers & Readers Group for this blog tour & review opportunity!
As part of this tour, we’re posting our end of world bucket lists. Here’s 5 things I want to achieve if the apocalypse was happening:
1. Kill a zombie
2. Eat all the delicious food
3. Drive a tank
4. Wish upon a shooting star
5. Spend time with loved ones
Tommy Wallach is a Brooklyn-based writer and musician. His first novel, We All Looked Up, will be published by Simon and Schuster in April 2015. His work has appeared in many nice magazines, such as McSweeney’s, Tin House, and Wired. He has released an EP with Decca Records, and will be independently putting out an LP in Spring 2014. He also makes music videos, including one that was exhibited at the Guggenheim Museum. You should buy him dinner.
Simon and Schuster Australia is giving away 5 copies of We All Looked Up as part of this blog tour. Enter below – Australians only!
Follow the tour:
April 1 – Diva Book Nerd
April 2 – Loony Literate
April 3 – Readers in Wonderland, Infinity Reads
April 5 – Fangirl World
April 6 – Happy Indulgence Books, Inside My Worlds, Whimsical Nature
April 7 – The Girly Geek
April 8 – Cassie the Weird, Thoughts by J
April 9 – Genie In a Book, Looking for the Panacea
April 10 – Book Nerd Reviews, Daring Damsels
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