We All Looked Up

May 15, 2015 books, reviews 12

We All Looked Up by Tommy Wallach on Reviews and Cake

We All Looked Up is overdramatic and beautiful and frustrating and poignant. It’s about growing up and finding yourself and your purpose in life. It’s also about the apocalypse, but let’s not get caught up in little things like that.

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

The Bad

As you may remember from previous reviews, I’m not the biggest fan of multiple perspectives. I think they were mostly done well in We All Looked Up, and I’ll mention why I enjoyed the multiple POVs later on, but sometimes (mostly in the second half of the book), events get retold from different POVs, and I always find that a little frustrating, because it slows the story down. There was a lot of high school drama, and they weren’t even in school most of the time. Emotions and experiences are always heightened when you experience them for the first time, and all of the characters were fairly young, and they DO have a good reason, but sometimes the drama was a little too much for me. I was also tempted to roll my eyes at all the boys are like this, girls are like this ish, but generally the book had a very positive take on differences, sexuality, and common humanity, so I’ll forgive it. I would have wished for a tighter plot, because I did get slightly bored halfway through, but that might have been because the ending was spoiled for me in another review.

The Good

This book is all about the characters. They’re all such helpless teenagers, and the possible end of the world forces them to, if not grow up, at least grow as people. Or maybe I should say they’re all stereotypes of teenagers: the sports star, the stoner guy, the overachiever and the school slut. All of them are labelled by each other, but the apocalypse makes them understand they’re all just people. and that was fucking beautiful. In the beginning, it was super interesting to see one of the characters casually mentioned by one of the others and then to get to experience how they actually tick the next minute. They become so much more than the stereotypes that define them at the start of the book – they were always more, and it’s fantastic to see them realize it. In the end, it didn’t really matter that much whether the world was really going to end or not, because we’re all going to die sometime, and all we can do is to live the fullest life we can possibly manage. Was that too schmoopy? Well, tough. Blame it on the book.

The Rest

I listened to this as an audiobook, and it really flows. The writing is beautiful, and there are so many quote-worthy sentences that sum up worlds of feelings in one sentence. The cover and the title fit the book perfectly, and it really captures that one moment, when they all have to look up and wait with baited breath. It embodies the hope and community and ravishing uncertainty of everything. The premise is fascinating too. An asteroid hitting the earth is actually quite probable. I was in a lecture about it once and felt like drawing up a will afterwards (yes, you can have my books, but only if you treat them nicely).

I’m giving this book 3.5 cupcakes because I wanted a tighter plot and a less teenage drama, but I enjoyed it muchly, and I can definitely recommend it.

cupcakecupcakecupcakehalf a cupcake

12 Responses to “We All Looked Up”

    • Vlora


      Well, it’s not really set in high school much, but there is a lot of teenage drama. There’s also a lot of great stuff though; you might like it!
      Vlora recently posted…We All Looked UpMy Profile

  1. Naomi

    This book has been in my TBR for such long time, I can’t wait to get my hands on it. It just looks like such a beautiful read and I the idea of labelling eachother but in the end they are realise that they are all human.
    Naomi @The Perks Of Being A Bookworm

  2. Shannon @ It Starts At Midnight

    I want to read this book so badly. In fact, I had to gloss over your review because I want to go in not knowing much. But 3.5 cupcakes is something good to know! I like 3.5 cupcakes. I mean, sure, we all want more cupcakes but.. that’s life. I keep trying to read this and then… not. Because someone peer pressures me into reading something else. But I WILL read it soon, and then I will pop back over here to compare notes!
    Shannon @ It Starts At Midnight recently posted…My Blogging PrerequisitesMy Profile

    • Vlora


      I totally do that haha. Usually it’s not even obvious spoilers, but you have to talk about SOMETHING to review the book, so I’m veeery careful most of the time (both in reading and writing them), but of course it still happens! I love the cupcake musing. I DO want more. :D I rate books weirdly though – sometimes I remember that 3.5/5 is actually a pretty good rating and definitely means I enjoyed a book, and other times I’m like “hey, I liked it, let’s give it 5!”. This was one of the former cases, so I definitely enjoyed it! I’M peer pressuring you into reading THIS. Happy? :D
      Vlora recently posted…Change of Plans, Audiobooks and InternshipsMy Profile

  3. Lola @ Hit or Miss Books

    I love it when characters outgrow their stereotypes and turn into defined and strong human beings. Character-driven stories are not of my favorites, but the premise of this book is just so great; I can’t resist it! Multiple POVs can be hit or miss, but it looks like in this one it very much works. Great review!! :)
    Lola @ Hit or Miss Books recently posted…LGBT Recommendations for You ❤My Profile

    • Vlora


      I’m on the fence about character-driven stories – characters usually make or break a book for me, but if there’s not much BUT character exploration, I need to REALLY like the characters (or find them super interesting somehow). I did like these characters and their growth a lot, but more plot would have definitely been nice. Multiple POVs are usually more miss than hit for me, but I find I can bear them better with audiobooks, and they made sense for this book. :) Hope you’ll enjoy the book if you read it!
      Vlora recently posted…Change of Plans, Audiobooks and InternshipsMy Profile

  4. Olivia

    I have read this one and personally I liked it. Yes, there were a lot of POVs and at the point where it started to backtrack a bit and repeat what already happened from another point of view I was confused for a bit as to what was happening and when. But I got to grips on it. My favourite character was Peter <3 And in general, I am a little bit frustrated but at the same time happy with how it ended. I should have my review of this one coming up in time, hopefully.
    Olivia recently posted…How To: Nightmare Before Christmas NOTDMy Profile

  5. Cynthia

    I do think that multiple perspective POV chapters tend to be overdone. Sometimes certain POVs can be unnecessary, especially when they are just retelling the same events. I don’t necessarily need to know what every single character is thinking. That being said, this book has piqued my interest and I will probably read it at some point.
    Cynthia recently posted…Musing Mondays – Do Negative Reviews Affect Your Reading?My Profile

  6. Danni Mae

    The good section here sounds great- I love the idea of all of these different people coming together and ignoring stereotypes!

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